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Insect Control

Red Lily Beetle

What are Red Lily Beetles?

The red lily beetle (Lilioceris lilii), also known as the scarlet lily beetle, is an insect pest to the lily and will consume the leaves, buds, stem and flower of the lily. It belongs to the Order Coleoptera, Family Chrysomelidae. It is a voracious insect and can devour an entire lily plant in a very short time and pose a threat to gardens and greenspaces. The lily leaf beetle is originally from parts of Europe and Asia and is thought to have arrived in North America in the 1940's through the import of plant bulbs.

What does the Red Lily Beetle look like?

red lily beetle

Photo credit:
crabchick under license CC BY 2.0

The adult lily beetle is around 6 to 9mm in length. The adult's forewings, or elytra, is hard, shiny and a bright scarlet colour. The lily beetle's legs, eyes, antennae, head and belly are all pitch black. They have large eyes, a wide abdomen and a slim thorax section. The lily beetle can fly very rapidly and are good at hiding. The red lily beetle is also known to squeek when threatened by a predator.

Adult red lily beetles will lay their eggs on the underside of lily leaves in a crooked line. They can lay up to 450 reddish orange eggs per season. They generally lay them in clusters of 12 along the underside of a leaf. Eggs can take about 7 to 10 days to hatch. The larva are rather ugly and resemble a slug. They also cover themselves with their feces, known as a fecal shield, to ward off predators. The larva will generally feed for 16 to 24 days before entering the soil to pupate. They will remain in the soil for 16 to 22 days before emerging as adults. The adults will feed until the fall when they will find spots to overwinter and emerge the following spring in late March through June.

What does Red Lily Beetle damage look like?

Red lily leaf beetle damage can be the complete defoliation of a lily plant. Generally there will be visible damage to the leaves and the presence of the beetle or it's larva on the underside of the lily leaves and petals.

How can I control Red Lily Beetles?

Because the red lily beetle is originally an introduced species it doesn't have any natural predators in North America. The most common method of controlling beetles is by inspecting your garden regularly and removing the larva or adults by hand. They can then be squished or thrown into the garbage or a bucket of vegetable oil and water.

Other ways to control the red lily beetle include a general insecticide or other remedies found at your local garden store.

Last update: July 22, 2020
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