Lilies forum: Lily Beetle Study

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Name: PNR
north of Calgary AB, Canada (Zone 3b)
prairies, Chinook winds, 3500 ft
Feb 26, 2018 11:43 PM CST
Hi, I came across a detailed thesis/study on some of the habits of the lily beetle I thought which might be helpful.

The name of the study is "Impact, host range and chemical ecology of the lily beetle, Lilioceris lilii"

Right now, the direct download to the full study can be found at
https ://
It can also be found on Google Scholar. (Sorry, I cannot add a direct link yet as a new member.)

Here is the abstract, it's a bit wordy, but it has some very interesting points:

"The lily beetle (Lilioceris lilii, Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) has a univoltine life cycle and a limited host range (Lilium, Fritillaria and Cardiocrinum). A survey of 237 professional growers indicates that L. lilii is a problem for many in the UK lily industry. A three-year field trial using six different Lilium indicated that the species Lilium regale is more resistant to L. lilii than the hybrids L. 'Tiber', L. 'Brindisi', L. 'Conca d'Or', L. 'Eliganzer' and L. 'Golden Joy'. Phenology observations between the trial and an established population of the beetle have provided base-line data to which further observations can be compared. Future host susceptibility trials should use a standard lily such as L. regale against which others can be compared. Behavioural bioassays using a linear-track olfactometer demonstrated that the responses of L. lilii to hosts and conspecifics are at least in part odour-mediated. Significantly more diapaused females moved into airstreams containing the odour of intact hosts over clean air, to that of hosts and beetles combined over that of undamaged or manually-damaged plants, and into airstreams from intact plants over larval-infested plants. Pre-diapause males moved into the airstreams of intact hosts in preference to L. lilii-infested plants. Using air entrainment, gas chromatography (GC) and coupled gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), headspace volatiles from beetleinfested host plants have been collected and identified. From these compounds, methyl salicylate, nonanal, cis-jasmone, linalool, 6-methyl-5-hepten-2-one and β-pinene elicited electrophysiological responses from L. lilii using electroantennography (EAG) and coupled GC-EAG. Bioassays indicate that diapaused female beetles move into the airstream of clean air in preference to cis-jasmone. Investigations from all areas of the project have progressed our understanding of the ecology of L. lilii but further studies are needed before more effective control strategies can be developed."

What I gather from this (if I've read correctly), is that lily beetles find lilies using scent. Out of the varieties of lilies they tested, the beetles didn't like L.regale as much. Also, female beetles moved away from cis-jasmone. When I look up cis-jasmone, I think refers to jasmine oil.

I've ordered some jasmine oil from Amazon and will give it a try this year, I'll keep this post updated if I have any success. Lily beetles are a major problem where I live.
[Last edited by prairie_northrose - Feb 26, 2018 11:49 PM (+)]
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Bulbs Lilies Bee Lover Irises Hellebores Deer
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Photo Contest Winner: 2016
Feb 27, 2018 3:21 AM CST
PNR, do please report if it doesn't work as well.

I'm sure scent plays a very important role, but I also think the lily beetles mostly are content with whatever lily they first encounter when they fly to a new location, unless perhaps they smell an even more desirable cultivar further away.

I try to keep a pretty good squish program here. Still I always miss a few, but today I think most of the lily beetles, especially in early spring, are visitors from other gardens.

For a few years I have observed significantly more Lily Beetles in the front yard(east) and almost none in the back yard(west).
The reason I think this happens is that there are many more lily growers in the direction of the front yard, and almost none in the direction of the back yard. The prevalent wind is also from the west, which would also play a role as scent wouldn't be as likely to be carried in that direction attracting lily beetles to my garden.

I have lilies spread out in many places in the front yard and what I notice is that while I have sporadic outbreaks in the more central parts of the front yard, most problems occur on the perimeters. When I started to grow Martagons in the more shaded, further away parts of the garden they immediately got infested and thus I moved the perimeter of defense as well.

The Martagons early appearance and perhaps their scent played a role in this, but also I think their location was important. These were the first lilies any visiting lily beetle would encounter when arriving from gardens south and east of me. I also have a large patch of Crown Imperials filling the same early "capture crop" function along the sunny north side of the garden. They seem to get less attacked since I started growing Martagons.

I however have hundreds of lilies in the back yard, more than in the front yard, yet rarely have a lily beetle there. There are no Martagons or Crown Imperials here though, so not as attractive early in the season.

Generally speaking Asiatics and LA hybrids seems more prone to damage here than OT lilies and Orientals, when I grow them in the front yard, but yet they have very little problems when growing in the back yard. I have moved most of these Asiatics and LA hybrids away from the front yard, but the lily beetle problem hasn't moved with them.

One would think that as the Crown Imperials go dormant and the Martagons leaves are less nutritious further into the summer that they would come in hordes to infest the back yard, but it isn't so. They mostly find other hosts in the front yard.

I have a little less than an acre here, so I think in a smaller garden this pattern wouldn't be so visible as the lilies then would be growing more closely together, but still I find these observations interesting. I use these patterns, accidental or not as to spend my time more efficient when scouting for lily beetles.
Name: Frank Mosher
Nova Scotia, Canada (Zone 6a)
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Birds Roses Clematis Lilies Peonies
Region: Canadian Photo Contest Winner: 2017 Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Feb 27, 2018 2:12 PM CST
I posted my results with respect to the Lily Beetle. Believe it was entitled" "Lily Beetle Revisited". I talked about an available very small wasp, the size of a fruit fly, which only attacks the black Lily Beetle Larvae, located on the underside of lily leaves. If you google lily beetle and wasps, it should come up. Several US and Can
universities giving the wasps free if you want to follow their study rules. I am impressed after only the first year.
Name: PNR
north of Calgary AB, Canada (Zone 3b)
prairies, Chinook winds, 3500 ft
Feb 27, 2018 11:04 PM CST
Hi Frank, yes I was very excited to read your previous post about your success with your results with the wasp! I often visit the Olds agricultural college nearby. A worker mentioned to me last year they were testing out the wasps, I think they are called 'Tetrastichus Setifer'. I didn't think about asking them to have some wasps until I read about your experience; that's a really good idea.

My understanding is they have been testing the wasp in Calgary, Carlton University in Ottawa, and at Olds College as of 2016. I hope they can confirm the wasps are able to overwinter & establish here in Alberta, or if they are able to release it on a larger scale here.

One of my neighbours pulled out all of her lilies because of the beetles. Daily patrols have worked for me, I put a container of soapy water under the adults and they fall into once I knock the leaf. With my plan to add more lilies, I'm still exploring other non-insecticide methods so I don't have to check every day. I've heard others have some luck with Neem oil, talc powder, and garlic spray. I wonder if these are all related as they mask the odour/scent of the lilies? I'm still learning....

William, interesting observations, I can say the same about my yard - I used to have lilies in the north bed, where the wind arrives first. Those lilies in the front were always affected by beetles first. With this in mind, I may plant in areas which are more hidden from wind.

I like what you mention about a "capture crop." The beetles started on my orientals in my south bed last year, perhaps this was because I removed all the asiatics from the north bed. I wonder if keeping some lilies in the north bed where the wind comes first will distract the beetles from the others in the south bed...

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