Monday, June 14, 2010

Red lily beetle: New garden pest recently discovered in Calgary

A new garden pest has arrived in Calgary, called the red lily beetle (Lilioceris lilii).

These tiny, insects are strong fliers and can easily spread to gardens throughout the city, munching on wild and planted lilies. Daylilies are not attacked by this pest.

“The red lily beetle is a voracious eater and can consume a lily plant in less than one day,” says Simon Wilkins, Integrated Pest Management Coordinator for The City of Calgary. “Early detection is an important step in protecting lily plants.”

Bright red adult beetles, are about 6 to 8 millimetres long and can be seen chewing on leaves of native and garden lilies in early spring and again in fall.

Throughout spring and summer, orange larvae covered in a black slimy coating also attack various parts of the lily plant and can completely destroy mature plants if populations reach high enough numbers.

Prevention and Treatment

Home owners and landscape gardeners can avoid bringing red lily beetles into gardens by checking the soil around new bulbs and plants for both larvae and adult beetles.

During the growing season, inspect lily foliage for the presence of eggs, larvae and adults. Hand-remove any beetles that are found and place individuals into soapy water. Adult beetles will drop off plants if disturbed, so place a light coloured cloth or bucket of soapy water below the leaves being inspected. Sprinkling diatomaceous earth directly on these beetles will also control them by creating abrasions that will cause them to dry out. Diatomaceous earth is a naturally occurring, silica-based, organic material that can be used in powder form as a mild abrasive.

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