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Pest Watch

Lily beetle control


The lily beetle (Lilioceris lilii) is the number one pest of lilies. It can reduce a lily plant to nothing in just a few days, so needs to be controlled.

Both the adult lily beetles (or red or scarlet lily beetle to give it its full name) and the horrible grubs devour lilies - leaves, flowers and flower buds.

Adult lily beetle


The adult beetle is about 5-8mm (about 1/4in) long, bright red with a black head and legs. Eggs (right) are laid on the underside of leaves in groups of up to 12-15; they vary in colour from bright orange to nearly red. The grubs have dirty orangey bodies and cover themselves with their own excreta; this gives them some protection from predators and they can be mistaken for birds' droppings. They then fall onto the ground and pupate.

Lily beetle eggs

Adult beetles emerge from the soil from late March to May, laying eggs from April until September. They overwinter in sheltered places, often in the soil but not always near lilies.

It's not only lilies that they have an appetite for - they also go for fritillaries (Fritillaria species) and Cardiocrinum - the tree lily.


One of the best ways to control lily beetle is to inspect plants regularly, and pick off and kill any adults, eggs or grubs as soon as they're seen. I do it early in the morning (before 7.30am) when the adults are sluggish and easy to catch. If disturbed they will drop to the ground on their backs where they can be difficult to spot, so sneak up on them quietly.

Adult beetles and grubs can be controlled, and plants protected, by spraying with Provanto Ultimate Bug Killer, Resolva Bug Killer or BugClear Ultra; the larvae are more susceptible than the adults.

Or you can use the "eco friendly" foliar spray Grazers G4, which reduces the feeding damage of lily beetle infestations. It also strengthens and stimulates plant growth. I've never used it, so I'd love to hear from anyone that has on how effective it is.

Currently there are no biological controls available for lily beetle.

Use plant protection products safely. Always read the label and product information before use.


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