Arrival of Dreaded Red Lily Beetles

Karchita(WA Z8)June 8, 2013

This is bad news for anyone who grows lilies. Red Lily Beetles are here and I've got them. They are a real menace, imported from Eurasia, and have no natural predators on this continent. As a bonus, the larva are some of the more disgusting critters you are likely to come across in the garden.

I'm in west Bellevue. I may have had them by late last summer, but in my blissful ignorance, I didn't know what they were or notice them. This spring I heard that they had been reported by others in Bellevue, and I figured it out. So far, Neem has been great. I sprayed once and didn't see any activity for over a week. Then I started to see adults again and a few larva showed up, so I sprayed again, about 11 days after the first application.

Here's a link. Read it and weep:

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I wonder if they can find the native lilies out in the countryside.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 7:22PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

If any are left.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 10:20PM
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Karchita(WA Z8)

These beetles seem to almost always only attack true lilies and fritillaria, and I am not familiar with the natives, so I don't know if they are Lilium species. Even if they are, I suppose that if they are somewhat rare or occur in small groups with a lot of separation from the other host plants, that they would not be in much danger. But I'm only guessing on that.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 3:41AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

The local ones are Lilium columbianum and Fritillaria lanceolata (now with a different species name I am not remembering). I haven't seen any of the Lilium nearby in years, there even used to be a small patch visible along I-5 south of Seattle.

Everything goes for lilies, in the garden slugs and viruses in particular have been chronic problems for years.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 2:20PM
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Karchita(WA Z8)

bboy, my experience has been quite different. Recently I have been adding more and more lilies to my beds because they have always been pest free and easy, at least for the asiatics. They are the only ones I grow, as I don't care for the scent of the Orientals.

For the first time, this year I have had aphids on some of my lilies, but other than that, no problems with growing lilies for twenty some years. It makes me wonder if the aphid and beetle problems are interrelated, because IME aphids often attack weakened plants.

I did try some of the gorgeous martagons once, but I killed them. It was may fault, not theirs. I did have a virus once, but it clearly came in with some new bulbs and I just got rid of them and didn't replant in that bed for a few years.

I have a lot of lilies now, and have even gotten into propagating them recently, which is the main reason these beetles are such a disaster for me, but I have already decided to cull most of them and just keep my favorites and wait and see how much of a battle it is to manage these new pests.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 4:26PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Aphids transmit viruses. With garden plants in general there can be viruses present in stock that have a weakening effect without other obvious visual clues like streaking or deformity. For example, when ~35 kinds of viruses were cleared out of rhubarb stocks used for forcing in sheds to provide winter income in parts of Britain the size and productivity of the plants went way up. With lilies specifically it was said for years that you did not want to put forced Easter lilies out in the garden near other kinds as the L. longiflorum were likely to be virused. So these were looking and growing well enough to be sold yet were actually infected.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 10:31PM
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Aphids here attack garden plants with the most tender new growth available--the healthiest plants. The populations can boom and by the time it is noticed, the plant appears as "weakened". The new growth of prized plants is now checked every 2-3 days in the aphid high season.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 11:04PM
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