Meet the Red Beetle

How does Your Garden Grow?

Have you met the Red Lily Beetle yet? If you have lilies, the lily beetle has been out chomping away eating the leaves, buds and stem destroying your lilies. The beetle will generally eat most lilies except the day lily. As this beetle does not have any know predators, it can become a pest as it eats away to reproduce and eat more lilies.

You do not want to confuse this beetle with the Cardinal beetle, or the unspotted ladybirds. However, if you see this beetle and its friends on your lilies that are slowly disappearing you have a pretty could chance it is the red lily beetle.


Here is How They Work!

The beetle overwinters in the soil and emerges early in spring. The adult is generally found in moist, cool environments. It emerges in spring to feed and mate. The female can lay up to 450 eggs each season in batches of about 12 on the undersides of leaves. It arranges the red-orange to brown eggs in narrow irregular lines along the midrib, where they are more concealed.

                                                 

The eggs then hatch into yellow, brown or orange larvae in about 1–2 weeks.  The larvae feed for up to 24 days, beginning underneath the leaf then working up the rest of the plant, and cause the most damage. Their preferred feeding locale is underneath the leaf or at the node where the leaf meets the stem. They then burrow in the ground to pupate in a cocoon of soil bound with saliva. In about 20 days they emerge as adults and continue to feed until winter. More than one cycle can occur in one year.


What Can You Do?

Look for the lily beetle on your lilies. If you find one you will find many. Depending on when you look you may find the eggs, the larvae, the adult beetle or all three. You can remove the adult by hand. You can drown the red beetle in water or squash them as well. The important part is to be vigilant. Check for the adults for a few days and also check under the leaves for the sticky larvae. If you can catch all the red beetles and the sticky larvae before they burrow in the ground you may be able to stop the cycle and further damage to your lilies.

There is some recent development of parasitoid for biological control, which is used to control the beetle in some areas.

There is always the use of pesticides that will have some temporary affect but there is often the harmful effects of pesticides to the plant, other plants and other helpful bees and insects. I would recommend trying any natural methods as much as possible.

Other garden plants affected include Convallaria majalis, Polygonatum, potato (Solanum tuberosum), flowering tobacco (Nicotiana), hollyhock (Alcea) and Hosta.


Article submitted by Tamie Perryment who is an avid lifelong gardener, lives in Parkdale area and has an Organic Master Gardener’s Certificate from Gaia College.