Lily beetles

Look out for the bright red coats of the scarlet lily beetle on your garden lilies. These garden pests will munch all members of the lily family and eat leaves, stems, buds and flowers.

red or scarlet lily beetle
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As the pretty spring fritillaries burst into flower, look out for emerging adult lily beetles (Lilioceris lilii).

  • Beautiful in their bright red coats, they will be sizing up suitable places to lay their eggs and top of the list are your lilies.
  • Look out for odd rows of orange/reddy brown eggs along the midrib of the leaves. Pick them off.
  • Adult lily beetles squeak when under threat. They make the noise by rubbing together parts of their body. It’s a weird sound that is thought to alarm predators.
  • It’s the hatching grubs that do the most damage. They are quite hard to see as they cover themselves in their own shiny brown/black excrement to protect themselves from predators and the sun.
  • Check for the undersides of the leaves especially at the tips and pick off any affected leaves.
  • Affected plants are unlikely to die, so a regular check and removal regime is a nature friendly solution to minimise the damage of these incredible looking bugs.
  • If your garden is infested choose to grow the hemerocallis family (daylilies), which are not affected by this pest.
  • If you cannot live with them, then choose a contact insecticide that doesn’t persist in the garden. The Neudorff Pyrol Bug & Larvae Killer is based on natural pyrethrum, and is available online at Amazon.
Jean Vernon

About Jean Vernon

Jean Vernon is a slightly quirky, bee friendly, alternative gardener. She doesn’t follow the rules and likes to push the boundaries a bit just to see what happens. She has a fascination for odd plants, especially edibles and a keen interest in growing for pollinators especially bees. She’s rather obsessed with the little buzzers. Telegraph Gardening Correspondent, mostly testing and trialing products and Editor-In-Chief for Richard Jackson’s Garden.
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