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Scarlet Lily Leaf Beetle

By: Susan Martin
Here’s what you need to know about the scarlet lily leaf beetle, a garden pest that’s making its way across the United States.

Scarlet lily leaf beetle copyright Susan Martin at Gardener Sues News: The Scarlet lily leaf beetle is a garden pest that can defoliate a plant.

Scarlet lily leaf beetle

Are you noticing that your lily (Lily spp. and hybrids) leaves and buds have irregular holes or notches in them this year? Look for the scarlet lily leaf beetle (Lilioceris lilii). This insect pest is making its way westward across the United States. Its ¼-inch-long, bright red body with black underside is easy to spot, and both the larvae and adult can quickly defoliate a plant. According to the University of Wisconsin Extension, lily leaf beetles can also attack fritillarias (Fritillaria spp.) and occasionally lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) and Solomon's seal (Polygonatum spp.).

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How to control scarlet lily leaf beetle

Control it by dropping insects into soapy water or smashing them with your fingers. Horticultural oils like neem oil are moderately effective at killing the larvae and repelling the adult, but must be applied early and often (every 5 to 7 days). And know that sprays will kill all insects that they touch, including beneficials and pollinators that you'd like to encourage.

'Black Beauty' orienpet lily copyright Susan Martin at Gardener Sue's News 'Black Beauty' Orienpet lily is as elegant as it is durable and it has been found to have good resistance to the scarlet lily leaf beetle.

Plant resistant lily varieties to avoid scarlet lily leaf beetles

If the infestation is severe, you may need to pull out your lilies and grow something else in their place. Or try one of these lily varieties, which appear to be resistant to scarlet lily leaf beetles:

  • ‘Black Beauty’ orienpet lily Lilium hybrid
  • ‘Madame Butterfly’ lily Lilium hybrid
  • ‘Uchida’ lily Lilium hybrid
  • Henry’s lily Lilium henryii
Published: July 25, 2022
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