The All New and Nasty Lily Leaf Beetle
by Charlie Dobbin
by Charlie Dobbin

Charlie Dobbin, B.Sc. (Agr), is well known horticultural expert with professional gardening experience in a wide range of areas.

Her love of gardening and her easy manner is evident in her delivery of all her gardening seminars. She has a natural enthusiasm that makes her demonstrations both informative and fun.

Charlie was the Editor and Feature Writer of the White Rose Yard & Garden Guide. This company has now ceased to exist.

June 2, 2002

Just when you think you’ve gotten a handle on all the bugs that can give you problems in your garden, along comes another nasty. Enter the Lily Leaf Beetle (Lilioceris lilii).

This beetle has been around in insignificant numbers in Quebec since 1945. In recent years it has shown up in the Ottawa area and now in other parts of southern Ontario.

While this bug seems to like only Oriental and Asiatic lilies, Lily-of-the-Valley, Solomon’s Seal and Fritillarias, it is worth learning about because it can cause serious damage to these plants. Once you have seen a lily beetle you will never forget it. It has very peculiar habits.

The female beetle is bright red and squeaks when you squeeze it. She lays her eggs on the underside of lily leaves. The eggs hatch into larvae that resemble segmented slugs. They can grow up to one-half inch (1cm) long and feed on the leaves of the lilies, moving to the petals, buds and all parts of the plant as they mature. The really interesting thing about the larvae is that they cover themselves with excrement. Protected under this gross layer of orange/brown or yellow, they move about the plant happily munching away.

The easiest and most effective way to get rid of these pests is to hand pick them (if you can stand it) and remove any eggs from the leaves. Your next plan of action can be to apply a pesticide with malathion, or rotenone and pyrethrin mixtures.

At the very least, this bug is easy to identify. If you have a brilliant red beetle that chirps and small slugs that look like they are covered in wet doggy doodoo, you have a lily beetle problem. 

If you’re not thrilled with this exciting new discovery maybe your kids will be.



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