Lilies forum: Bulb mites

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Name: Joe
Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
Lilies Region: New York Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Joebass
May 23, 2014 4:56 PM CST
I was looking for three stems of the same group that should have been up by now and I found the group with no stems and two were badly rotted, with the third on the way. The basal plate was hollowed out and there were all these little white bugs in the basal hole and behind the scales as I peeled them off. They were hard to get on the pictures though. Is there any worry that they would spread to other bulbs. I threw the bulbs out immediately. I'll put up a few pics. And I know the soil looks very wet but it rained a lot the day before and earlier.


Thumb of 2014-05-23/Joebass/11877f
Thumb of 2014-05-23/Joebass/ea6173
Thumb of 2014-05-23/Joebass/7522ac
Thumb of 2014-05-23/Joebass/3e6cba

Name: della
hobart, tasmania
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Photo Contest Winner: 2015
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dellac
May 23, 2014 8:15 PM CST
I've never seen that happen before, voracious little mites. Hope someone knows what's going on.
Name: Joe
Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
Lilies Region: New York Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Joebass
May 23, 2014 11:04 PM CST
It's funny too Della, as the batch of bulbs I got were all sprouting except these bulbs. I figured that these were in cold storage a little longer but maybe it's because the bugs were doing work under the scales that I could not see.
[Last edited by Joebass - May 23, 2014 11:05 PM (+)]
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Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
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Leftwood
May 24, 2014 5:12 AM CST
I've seen that happen in species bulbs that are susceptible to too much moisture. On the scales, the rot always starts from the proximal (the part closest to the central stem) end and progresses outward. In my case, I've never found insects to be the cause, but they are an impetus for bulb rot in many situations. If the insects appear round (think teeny-tiny itsy-bitsy spiders) rather than oblong, they are likely bulb mites. If they are in the shape of an aphid, that's lprobably what they are.
Name: Lorn (Roosterlorn)
S.E Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Lilies Seed Starter Pollen collector Bee Lover Region: Wisconsin
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Roosterlorn
May 24, 2014 6:47 AM CST
If they are tiny, tiny white bugs no bigger than a pinhead and barely visible, they're mites. What to heck is it with mites now. They seemingly are becoming a BIG problem, especially in foreign countries. Mites are hard to detect and get rid of because the hide deep behind the scales where soaking with a pesticide seldom penetrates. Moreover, once they become populated in garden soil they can ruin the whole thing, requiring deep fumigation with cover treatments before it's safe to plant lilies there again. So, you don't want mites; be careful who you buy from and be conscious of what country your bulbs may have originated from. If you have to, plant bulbs in pots the first year to verify bulb cleanliness.

But, let's consider another possible explanation for your problem and hope those little white bugs aren't mites. Maybe they're just some other pest cleaning up rotted vegetation.

When growers dig bulbs in the Fall, they are supposed to dry them thoroughly before loading the bins for cooling down and for chilling storage. The last place and most difficult place to dry is the basil plate area because dirt is not easily removed there. And if the basil plate area is put into cold storage wet or too damp, it WILL spoil. When you purchase bulbs in the Spring, check the outside scales for blue mold. It is usually harmless on the scales but it is a good sign the bulbs were chilled a little too damp and that's when you want to really examine the basil plate thoroughly!

Here's a case where a Fall dug bulb was not dried enough prior to chill storage. Had I planted this bulb, it would have looked just like yours.
Thumb of 2014-05-24/Roosterlorn/3dce02


Thumb of 2014-05-24/Roosterlorn/db6ac8

You could have scaled these bulbs, too. You'll end up with many little ones. If decide to do that, soak the scales in a 10% household bleach solution for 20 minutes, the rinse and dry to callous over night.

Name: Joe
Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
Lilies Region: New York Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Joebass
May 24, 2014 8:53 AM CST
Since I did dispose of the bulb in a half filled trash can filled with matted grass I was easily able to reassess the bad bulb. I took 4 of the best scales that I already peeled off yesterday and cut off any top rotting portions and soaked it in the bleach solution so I will put them in some damp sphagnum tomorrow. Of the rest of the bulb I was able to observe the bugs. They are white, small as a pin tip and they actually move pretty quickly. From googled pictures of "bulb mites" I'm not sure if I can positively ID them as such. From online photos they appear a little bulbous and seem to be behaving well for the photographer. In my case the bugs seem very small and were moving fast. That said I'm not sure if I can positively ID them as bulb mites even though I've titled this thread as such. Either way, it's a little disconcerting to plant what looked like healthy bulbs that rotted away.
Name: Lorn (Roosterlorn)
S.E Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Lilies Seed Starter Pollen collector Bee Lover Region: Wisconsin
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Roosterlorn
May 24, 2014 9:53 AM CST
Well, since all three had the same problem, I would certainly bring it to the attention of whoever you got them from. I my case above, it was isolated to just one of six bulbs. Not worth a complaint. I do regret not making a courtesy call to them, however.
Name: Joe
Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
Lilies Region: New York Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Joebass
May 24, 2014 10:04 AM CST
I was planning on it. Being that it was just those three bulbs out of at least 10, I will let the company know.

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