Messages posted to thread:

charlene27-Feb-03 09:44 AM EST 5a   
bill27-Feb-03 12:15 PM EST 5a   
Budding Poet27-Feb-03 12:35 PM EST 5a   
Nancy27-Feb-03 05:30 PM EST 5   
PatA28-Feb-03 06:36 PM EST 3   
Doktor Doom02-Mar-03 04:39 PM EST   
charlene03-Mar-03 11:12 AM EST 5a   

Subject: dreaded lily leaf beetle!
From: charlene
Zone: 5a
Date: 27-Feb-03 09:44 AM EST

I'm hoping to generate some ideas about ridding my garden of my nemisis.. the red lily leaf beetle and her disgusting dung covered off-spring!!I'd rather avoid highly toxic chemicals (young child "helps" in the garden) and have tried the hand picking method with very limited success. Love my lilies but they going to be yanked if I cannot resolve this infestation. Can you HELP????

Subject: RE: dreaded lily leaf beetle!
From: bill
Zone: 5a
Date: 27-Feb-03 12:15 PM EST

Hi Charlene,

I have also given up on hand picking the little devils - I find that I just can't keep up with them.

I tried BTK last year, which is an organic stomach poison (as I understand it). It also works on tent caterpillars. I do believe that this did have an effect, although it happened slowly. I plan to try again this year, starting in the spring.

I am not sure, however, about this product's safety for your garden helper. Perhaps someone else might know.

Good luck!

Subject: RE: dreaded lily leaf beetle!
From: Budding Poet (
Zone: 5a
Date: 27-Feb-03 12:35 PM EST

Hi Charlene

Your best defense is to get to know your enemy. Hang in and read on. There is help on the way.

Lily beetle life cycle The adults overwinter in the soil or on leaf debris and can appear from mid April if the weather is warm. After mating, the female lays 200-300 orange eggs on suitable plants. About a week later, they hatch into reddish-brown larvae that cover themselves with their own black, slimy excrement. When the grubs are mature they burrow into the soil to pupate, emerging as adults in mid to late summer.

Which plants do lily beetles attack? Adults and larvae eat the leaves, flowers and seed pods of the lily and fritillary families and can do severe damage. Adult beetles nibble irregular holes in the leaves and petals, while the larvae methodically work their way from the leaf tips towards the stem. Adults are occasionally found on other plants but these plants do not seem to be eaten by the larvae.

Could I confuse them with anything else? Cardinal beetles are also bright red, with black legs, head and undersides. However, they are twice as big as lily beetles and the body tapers towards the head. Cardinal beetles are carnivorous, and found hunting other insects on a wide range of plants, especially tree trunks. Some soldier beetles are reddish brown, and the same colour underneath. They tend to favour flat, open flowerheads such as umbellifers and are often seen in mating pairs. They are also carnivorous. Asparagus beetles, to which they are related are similarly shaped but not the brilliant scarlet.

Where does lily beetle come from? It originated in the Mediterranean region, though it also occurs in China and northern India. .How far has it spread? Here in North America it is primarily in eastern provinces and states. It ranks seventh most serious insect pest in the USA .In France it is kept in balance by several parasitoids.

Why has it become more widespread recently? They have no enemies here. Lily beetles thrive in areas with warm, dry climates. Their spread may be due to our recent hot dry summers. Observers have noticed that it is reluctant to fly, except on hot, sunny days, so the warm summers of recent years have encouraged it to move further afield. This may also explain why it is spreading much more slowly through the wetter areas.

How can I control lily beetle?If you grow only a few lilies, it's feasible to control lily beetle by inspecting them regularly. Pick off and squash the adults, grubs and eggs; the earlier you start looking, the more likely you are to break the pest's life cycle. Keep the lily beetle under control, at least until the plants finish flowering, to allow the bulbs to build up enough to form next year's flowers. Where plants have been badly damaged, feed the remaining leaves with foliar feed. Reduce the stress on your lilies by mulching them and dividing regularly Plant a trap crop of Fritillarias. The early emerging adult lily beetles will be attracted to the fritts . to eat and rowdily revel. In the cool spring air they do not move very fast and can easily be dispatched in various multiples.

Are there any suitable sprays? If you have a lot of lilies and wish to use a spray, some gardeners use Neem oil. When plants are in flower, spray at dusk to reduce harming bees.

What about biological control? The lily beetle's warning red colour implies it is unpalatable to potential predators such as birds. However, scientists from the University of Rhode Island, USA, motivated by the recent arrival of the pest in Boston, are testing parasitic larvae from France on lily beetle grubs . It is hoped they may prove to be a safe, effective biological control here, not just to protect our garden lilies Our ravishing native lilies need protection from this ravaging pest.

Subject: RE: dreaded lily leaf beetle!
From: Nancy
Zone: 5
Date: 27-Feb-03 05:30 PM EST

Last year I really got hit with these little monsters full force, after a half-hearted and belated attempt at picking them off the year before. Starting when they first emerged in the spring, I picked and squished and stomped twice a day, keeping a sharp eye open for both the adults and the telltale lines of red eggs on the leaves. I think I actually managed some level of success as I didn't have to deal with a lot of those disgusting larvae.

I'm hoping that this very cold weather will kill off most of the overwintering adults. Will know for sure in late April. Keep a good thought!!

Subject: RE: dreaded lily leaf beetle!
From: PatA
Zone: 3
Date: 28-Feb-03 06:36 PM EST

Hi Charlene & all Just a note on BTK. It is specifically formulated to control caterpillars, the larval form of butterflies and moths only! Although quite harmless to humans it won't be effective on your lily beetles either. That's why you found it slow acting Bill. Bill, BP and Nancy all have the right idea, start early. If you find the hand picking method too tedious, there are organic insecticides such as Rotenone, Pyretherin or Insecticidal soap. All breakdown very quickly so as long as your 'lil helper' is kept out of the lily patch during treatment period (generally until product is dry or 24 hours-check label for specific time), it is safe. Use these at first sign of the insects. They work on contact so applying before the beetles arrive is pointless. As with anything a little goes a long way, more is not always better. Follow instructions on the label carefully. Good gardening to all

Subject: RE: dreaded lily leaf beetle!
From: Doktor Doom
Date: 02-Mar-03 04:39 PM EST

Hi Charlene:

Doktor Doom House & Garden spray applied to the lily prior to it exploding with foliage is a very effective method of controling and eliminating these beetles.

As far as harming your young garden helper, apply the product and do not allow the helper in for at least two hours after application, once the product has dried, there is no toxic threat to the young, old or in between.

Also keep your pets out until the treated surfaces have dried, I would recommend that you apply it to the soil in and around this area as well.

Always use these products late at night or early in the morning, UV rays breakdown the effectiveness of the sprays so sunny areas will nedd more treatements than shaded areas but you should get a good two weeks of control after each application, keep the spray off the tops of flowers in bloom as this is where the bees go and this product will kill them too. If used properly this product is extremely effective and very safe.


Doktor Doom

Subject: RE: dreaded lily leaf beetle!
From: charlene
Zone: 5a
Date: 03-Mar-03 11:12 AM EST

Thanks all for replying.... the lilies get one more year and I'll make a concerted effort to pick quicker... tried to teach my son to pick and squish (with gloves on of course!!) When he rapidly abandoned after he found out the "black stuff" was poop!!

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