Red Lily Beetle infestation

Lily_grower_zone_5(z5 NY)May 25, 2007

I have never experienced the red beetle until today in my area of Zone 5. Found eight of them and killed them. Some lily leaves are showing signs that they were eating them. Could some one who has had this problem such as those in New England give me some practical advice of what to do to curtail this infestation, other than killing them as you find them. Is there a particular spray that would help? We have had very dry weather and I wonder if the beetles thrive in dry or wet situations. I have read in the past the great damage they can do to a lily garden, and this is now a great worry.

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I had the red beetle problem too and found the most effective method was to pick them off using a plastic sandwich bag - then dispose of the beetle in the bag. Look for the beetles on the undersides of the leaves - they are pretty easy to spot once you train your eye - they also tend to be found at the base of the plant. In my experience, I have found 4-6 beetles to be the culprits of all that munching (you would think there would be many more) so locating and picking off half a dozen beetles is usually the easiest thing to do.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 2:30PM
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Just get out there and pick them off. That seems to be the only advice I've found, so I go out every day with an old yogurt container with water and oil and drop them in to drown. Time will tell if this does any good. Last year they devestated my lilies.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 7:43PM
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Red Lily Beetles started becoming a problem a couple of years ago. I use Bayer Rose and Flower Insect Killer to spray my lilies as soon as I see one beetle every year. I was informed at a local nursery that this is the only effective spray. If you see a beetle, scratch the soil around the lily and you are bound to see several more. The first year I noticed these beetles, I thought nothing of it, they desimated my lilies. You want to eliminate them as soon as possible.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 10:25AM
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Lily_grower_zone_5(z5 NY)

Thanks to you who have replied. I am taking your advice, by picking them off by hand and spraying. Some days, I think I have gotten every one and by next morning, there are more, plus that disgusting black stuff on back of leaves. I cannot understand where these came from and wonder if they are air-borne from other areas. I have not planted any thing new and the only thing that was applied to the soil in the Spring was bulb booster granules. I recommend that every one keep an eye out for these beetles even if you think you are safe from them as this is the first year for me. Lilies are so beautiful, it is sad to witness this infestation. I have now discovered them both in front and back of house, in all types of lilies. Good luck to all who have this problem.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2007 at 1:02PM
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sydseeds(5A /ON)

The disgusting black stuff you are finding on the leaves are actually the hatched eggs - now nymphs living in their own poop (the black gob) which will decimate your lilies in no time. Get them off, and also look for red lines of speckled dots on the underside of your leaves - those are the eggs that the adults lay, they then turn into those hatched nymphs.

The spring and late summer is when the infestations is the heaviest - so go get 'em now.

I use neem oil mixture - a spray bottle with 2 caps fulls of neem oil, 4+ drops of ivory dish soap - the spray bottle filled with water to treat the leaves - then I pour this mixture around the plants as a ground soak; then I wear a pair of cotton gloves over my rubber gardening gloves - I soak these cotton gloves in the neem oil solution and from the base of the lilies to the top of the plant , I cup the gloves over the stems and coat the backsides of the leaves. The neem oil doesn't kill the eggs/nymphs/adults beetles, but it inhibits them to lay viable eggs or go on to a further life cycle.

I have about 100 oriental and asiatics. I did this 'glove and ground soak' routine in the spring and late summer last year as there were as many beetles as there were lilies in my garden.

I've end up squishing only a half dozen adult beetles and a few lines of eggs this season due to doing this routine last season, and with the early season 'glove and ground soak', there isn't any 'globes of disgusting black nymphs' on any of my lilies and the leaves are in great shape.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 9:52AM
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Lily_grower_zone_5(z5 NY)

Thanks to you also, Sydseeds, you have furnished more information and it is very helpful. Your aggresive action last year and this year has no doubt saved many a lily for you. I too have many, many lilies gathered over several years, and this infestation sickens me. I will try your glove treatment also. I was thinking and tell me if I am wrong, that at the end of the lily season, when leaves have browned, I will cut them close to ground, and rake soil to get any small leaves or debris and destroy. Would it help then, to spray the soil at the end of season, in case any are lurking in the soil, or hope that the winter freeze may take care of them, and begin to look very early in April, May, and June '08 for any new signs of infestation. To all of you who have replied, thanks very much. It makes me feel not alone in this matter. I urge all growers to examine your lilies daily.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 12:33PM
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sydseeds(5A /ON)

lily_grower_zone 5: You are so right to implement a strict clean up routine at the end of the season.

In the fall I leave about 1 inch of stem poking up at ground level (The 1 inch is so I know where to plant my tulips without uprooting lily bulbs in the late fall but you could cut right to ground level)and then I rigorously rake and remove all fall debrise around the lilies to hopefully rid the last remaining beetles - those 'little reds' will survive all winter in our frozen soil (we get weeks of -20 to -30 degree temperatures here), so each spring once the ground has thawed, I scratch the earth around the lilies and sure enough I'll find a half dozen red beetles still hiding under small clumps of the thawed soil.

A winter freeze will not do these lily beetles in - Quebec and Ontario - who's zones range from 4 to zone 2 still end up seeing these beetles emerge from hybernation just under the soil surface after a long winter.

I've become more selective in the manner in which I buy (and from whom) and in the manner in which I grow my lilies - I've taken to potting them up in the basement first, with a good quality growers mix and won't introduce them or transplant them into the actual gardens until I can verify that the new lily bulb growing is free from emerging 'red devils'.

It is sad to note that gardening friends from south of the border are now having to deal with this wicked beetle. Alot of my lily growing friends up here have ripped out tons of their oriental and asiatic lilies because they could not stand to watch the destructions take place. I am glad I found the 'neem oil' treatment as in Canada we cannot buy the 'Bayer' products so we make due with using the Neem Oil as it is the only thing (along with diligence in keeping an eye out) that curtails the lifecycle of these lily beetles.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 9:47PM
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I have just noticed this morning that one of my lillies has been COMPLETELY decimated - there is absolutely nothing on the stalk!!!!! I've been away on business for the past 3 weeks and my sister just kept my gardens watered. That's why I'm here.

However, the strange thing is - it's the only one that's been touched !!! Other Asiatics nearby are fine. Is this usual?? I'm going tonight to check the underside of all others. Please let me know if anyone has had only one decimated at a time. I also heard that lady bird insects help with this insect ??? Do you know if this is true???

Help !!!!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 3:03PM
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sydseeds(5A /ON)

Scamp: A rabbit will strip a lily like that. One at a time.

The lily beetle will start eating holes in a leaf here and there, making their way up and down the plant and end up stripping the stem but lily beetles usually go into hiding at night and make their way up a plant again the next morning, but that would have to be one smart lily beetle to know to return to the same leaf to finish it off, before moving on again so parts of those initially eaten leaves/partial leaves should still be present.

If the leaves are damaged with hundreds of holes and chunks missing - think lily beetle. You should see evidence of their work on other lilies as well.

The way you describe it - a bare stock with the leaves completely gone, I'd be thinking rabbit (or deer, if deer are common in your yard)

I've never seen ladybugs being able to tackle the lily beetle - ladybugs like to consume soft bodies insects like aphids - the lily beetle has the hard shell body like the ladybug and are similar in size (but not shape) - I don't think they are predators of one another.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2007 at 6:59AM
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My garden in the Burlington, VT area has been defoiliated by this blasted beetle this year - never in the past. Neem has been applied over and over and seems worthless. My gardens have over 200 oriental and asiatic bulbs and I can't stop this beast. I pick, drown, squash and rip off the leaves with the disgusting larvae hanging to them.

Last fall I planted about 20 new bulbs from John Scheepers - a first time order from this company planted into these gardens. I just want to cry when I see the mess my beautiful lilies used to be.

My question is - do I rip the bulbs out and start again several years from now? Or, use "major" pesticides now (which I have avoided using during all my gardening life)?

At this point, I want to nuke the rotten beetles. If anyone knows something that WORKS, please post.

Thanks so much.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 9:13PM
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sydseeds(5A /ON)

Neem oils does work.

It doesn't kill lily beetles though.

It prevents future generations of viable lily beetles, by rendering the existing beetle to lay non-viable eggs; it renders the existing eggs non-viable; and it stops the poop carrying nymps from growing into a fullsized adult beetle.

The lily beetles you are seeing now still need picking/stomping, etc, to prevent them from laying any eggs and the lily plant/leaves need spraying with the neem solution (especially the underside where the little red dotted lines of eggs will hatch and where you'll find the gobs of black poop carrying nymps. You may think it is a useless exercise, but your lilies next year will thank you.

If you don't get on top of the infestation now to curb those eggs from hatching, next year will be twice as brutal on your lilies.

Using a 'major' pesticide will kill off the adult lily beetle today but not the unhatched eggs lying dormant under each leaf - while you're using that 'major' pesticide, it will also be killing off the beneficial insects in your garden - those same insects that help pollinate your plants so that you can enjoy the blooms.

Your choice.

I have close to the same amount of orientals and asiatics as you - and two summers ago I felt like ripping every lily out, but really did 'due diligence' last spring with neem oil; then again mid summer gave them a once over spray and ground soak with neem; then again in the fall did a ground soak. This spring - half dozen red devils at the most and my leaves on the lilies are in tact and no poop blobs yet.

Let us know how it works out for you on whichever method you choose.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 8:41PM
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Sevin spray kills them and I usually only spray once a season if bad then twice and the problem is solved

    Bookmark   June 24, 2007 at 10:30PM
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hi i am mostly into daylilies but i have about 25 others and i did have those red beetles but found a way to kill them off for most of the season without them eating your plants i use seven dust, it leaves a white powder on your plants for a few days it wont bother the lily it just kills the bugs leave it on for about 3 days then wash it off the bugs will be gone , it costs about 5 or 6 bucks at wallmart i only use it on the lilys as the bugs dont seem to bother the daylilies i also use it in the fall as those red beetles go into the ground in winter so i only use it where the lilys are and it helps to kill them off in the ground its a shame to pay a lot for the flower for bugs to eat i would rather have dead bugs and a live flower and besides if the bugs get to thick it takes to darn long to pick them off by hand.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 5:24PM
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Lily_grower_zone_5(z5 NY)

Two months have gone by since I began this thread of messages. I notice there are others who began threads on same subject. The common denominator seems to be we hate beetles. I have heeded all the advice, hand picking, spraying etc. I must have had an ugly case because just spraying a few times did not work for me. I am now at the just occasional beetle stage. Lily enjoyment was tempered by the time spent looking for beetles versus taking in their beauty. Blooms were not as numerous or as healthy, but I'll be on beetle patrol in April '08. Please every one, even if you have never had the beetle, be vigilant early next Spring. Inspect top and under side of leaves as well as blooms and buds.This can be difficult if you have a lot of lilies and they are close together, but inspection is the only way to stay on top of them. Clean up all leaf debris this Autumn and if you have had the beetle, spraying the ground afterwards might help too. Garden Centers, if any of you read these messages, please take note. I saw a center with beetles in their lily plants. They didn't seem to care.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 7:31PM
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northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

I just came across this post and had to reply because, here in Ontario, we have had beetles for at least ten years. Some of my neighbours have stopped growing lilies because of it. They do well here in North America because they are not native and have no predators. We have always been told we must be vigilant, catch them and squish them, or flick them into a pail of soapy water, and run your hand up the stalk to get rid of the black guk which contains the larvae. Nothing we have available here kills them but someone at a college horticultural show gave me this information. The eggs go dormant and overwinter in the earth. When the lily buds start emerging in the spring, spray them and the surrounding earth with a 10% solution of household ammonia. The eggs are just hatching at that point and the ammonia kills them off. It does not hurt the plants or the earth. I usually spray, scratch the earth a bit, and spray again. I did this for several years and had only a few beetles to contend with, and only in the late summer. I did not do it this year because I was so busy with wintersowing, and I had a bad infestation right from the start of the season. They have been present the whole summer (I even got some today) and they have spread to another part of the garden where I have a few extra lilies. I saw some today on my Orientals - they usually only attack my Asiatics. They have always been confined to my first lily bed all these years. If you want to avoid using harsh pesticides in your garden, give this method a try.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 3:39AM
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I have tons of daylilies and a few dozen Asiatic lilies (easter lilies) They have been such a delight until this beetle came around! I am in in the north western part of CT. Our infestation in this neighborhood is going on 4 years now. Last year I tried neem oil and cedar oil (cedarcide for yard spraying.) Neither worked. Since I only had 30 max, I went around the yard with a bucket of warm soapy water with some cedar oil in it. I hand washed each stalk (what a flipping pain in the rear-end.) It helped some, others were a loss. A few went completely unscathed because they were buried between large hosta's.

This year (since we are redoing the pool masonry) I had to rip out all of my perrennials. The lilies were about 6" high when I took them out. I loosened the soil and pulled out the stalk and bulb and shoved them in an old pot and dumped new potting soil on them. (At this point I've dug up so many plants that no plant got coddled or special treatment.) The bucket has been out side in partial shade for 10 days now, and yesterday I noticed about 3 huge larvae and 5 tiny ones on the underside of the leaves.

So the dirt had nothing to do with it at this point...the eggs must have already been on the leaves. Our spring has just been so very cold (it is mid may and this weekend was the first 80 degree weather.) I never thought to get out there for larvae control...I was too busy digging up 250 sq feet of plants! Anyway, I sprayed with neem and picked off the critters. Having them in a pot really does help because I can tip it to look under the plant's leaves. I will go back to where they were planted and spray with neem even thought that dirt will soon be landfill someplace.

*FYI Cedar oil is supposed to kill the eggs, larvae and the beetle but on a gradual basis. It is amazing for grubs, fleas and ticks and beneficial insect safe. I have also been using beneficial nematodes (from gardens alive) in my garden to fight vine borer larvae (it was about 75% effective last year.) So Perhaps using the cedar oil and nematodes to soak the ground in the spring and fall will produce better results. Time for me to check the lilies that I have elsewhere!

Good luck all, Andrea

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 8:38AM
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Ortho Vegetable and Flower insect killer spray works wonders. It now comes in an automated sprayer. I spray every 2 to 3 days.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 6:58PM
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This might be a silly question, but they only attack lilies, right? I only have a few lilies and these critters are all over them and have eaten over half of the stems...I'm thinking of sadly just ripping them out and planting annuals for this summer at least. Will they cause a problem for my other plants too? (I have a mini rosebush that is looking very dead in the same bed...) I have only been in this house a year so not really sure what I have already.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 9:59PM
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ontnative(5b Can/USDA 4)

I believe that they also feed on a few other plants as well, but in my garden it has been primarily true lilies, especially the asiatics.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 9:58AM
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