Tackle pests- Lily Beetles
Tackle pests. Lily Beetles
These bright scarlet beetles are already on the move, I’ve spotted them on a stand of Crown Imperials (Fritillaria imperialis) and they were crawling across some Sweet Williams to get to them! These distinctive red lily beetles have a black head and antennae and they do a lot of damage to spring fritillaries, cardiocrinum and summer lilies. The warm weather definitely seems to have suited them this year.
Lily Beetles are easy to spot but very hard to squash because the moment they spot danger they tumble to the ground and hide. Apparently they also make a high pitched squeal, but I’ve never got near enough to hear it!
Lily beetle damage is easy to see even if you don’t spot the beetles. They leave a disgusting ‘calling card’ on the leaves and stems, covering their young with black slimy excretion. The beetles and their grubs then chomp away at stems and foliage and very quickly disfigure the plants.
Larvae pupate in the soil and re-emerge as adults a few weeks later. They are active all summer and well into autumn so finding them early is crucial to controlling infestation.
Destroy the beetles by hand or control them with a systemic insecticide.
Lily beetles are a relatively recent pest, until the 1980’s they remained a pest that was confined to the South East of Britain but since then they have slowly spread throughout England and Wales reaching as far as Scotland and Northern Ireland and very recently they were reported reaching Eire.
The RHS has an online survey where you can record any sightings in your area and help to track their movement.