Res­ur­rec­tion of the LILY

A new weapon in the war against the lily bee­tle

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - COLLEEN ZACHARIAS

PICK­ING and squish­ing has be­come a daily rit­ual for gar­den­ers who are grow­ing lilies. Locked in a bat­tle with the lily leaf bee­tle, some gar­den­ers check re­li­giously un­der a lad­der of nar­row lily leaves for rows of ob­long red­dish or­ange eggs in the quest to save their lilies. The lily leaf bee­tle, easily iden­ti­fied by its scar­let coloura­tion and black head and an­ten­nae, lays more than 300 eggs. To de­fend it­self against preda­tors, the lar­vae cov­ers it­self in its own ex­cre­ment, a fe­cal shield, if you will, that by any ac­count is a gross, slimy blob. Hes­i­tate too long to re­move the adults and egg masses by hand and the lar­vae will soon eat the leaves as well as the buds, flow­ers, and stems. The lily is able to with­stand one sea­son’s bee­tle in­fes­ta­tion how­ever mul­ti­ple an­nual in­fes­ta­tions that strip all or most of the plant’s leaves ul­ti­mately in­ter­feres with the es­sen­tial process of pho­to­syn­the­sis. The re­sult is re­duced plant vigor. Un­less, of course, you first de­cide to un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously pull the in­fested lily out of the ground and plant some­thing else. There is no doubt that lilies are worth sav­ing. Asi­atic, Trum­pet and Ori­en­tal lilies pro­duce some of the most sump­tu­ous blooms in the sum­mer gar­den. Not ev­ery­one, though, has the stom­ach for pick­ing and squish­ing scores of bee­tles or wip­ing off their lar­vae from the un­der­sides of leaves. Orig­i­nally from Europe and Asia, the scar­let lily bee­tle or lily leaf bee­tle has no nat­u­ral preda­tor in its new, ex­pand­ing habi­tat. As most gar­den­ers will tell you, both non-chem­i­cal and reg­is­tered chem­i­cal strate­gies have proved largely un­suc­cess­ful.


The lily leaf bee­tle above, can ren­der a lily al­most un­rec­og­niz­able. An Ori­en­tal x Asi­atic hy­brid, above right, Kaveri has up­fac­ing, lightly fra­grant golden blooms with a bronze-red flame and vivid green throat.

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