The Q&A Archives: Beetles on Lilies

Question: In the past two years, my garden has become infested with what I call a lily beetle. It is about 1/2" long and is black with red markings. They are demolishing my lilies and some other plants, and the only advise I have been given to get rid of them is the hand-pluck them off the lilies and squeeze them. Do you have any other suggestions on ridding them from the garden that will not harm my birds and butterflies? And where did these horrible little creatures come from? Thanks for helping a new and avid perennial gardener.

Answer: Unfortunately, based on your description I can't identify the pest, so I can't make a definite suggestion for controlling it. Handpicking is always a good thing to do, but since it sounds like there are so many of them you should also be very careful to clean up, remove and destroy all the plant material killed off by frost at the end of the season. This type of sanitation can be very important in controlling insect and disease problems from year to year in a perennial garden. Next, be sure to clean out any plant trash as it occurs during the season and deadhead (trim off) faded blooms promptly, because some beetles feed on decaying plant material. Sometimes, too, a limited amount of insect damage is tolerable in a garden where strong chemical controls are not frequently used. Finally, you might wish to take a sample of the beetle to your County Extension (831-1223) to see if they can identify it and help you with how to control it. I'm sorry I can't be more helpful.

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