I went out the other evening during an all too brief spell of sunshine to admire my lilies and poke my nose in for a good sniff. I then realised I hadn’t once checked them for the dreaded Scarlet Lily Beetle (Lilioceris lilii). On closer inspection I did notice that a few of the leaves had indeed been munched, especially on the new plants I have raised from lily scale propagation earlier this year. It wasn’t hard to find the culprits. These rather horrid looking blobs are in fact the larvae or more correctly the orange body clinging to the leaf is the larva it is then covered by its own black excrement…..delightful!
It is important to remove these larvae as they will continue to eat the leaves before dropping to the soil where they will pupate and emerge as new adults in 2 to 3 weeks. My choice of disposal usually involves my thumb and index finger…. you get the idea! The adults overwinter in the soil and for that reason I will re-pot my lilies each year, although this won’t necessarily help as they don’t always choose soil close to their feeding ground but it is worth a try.
I don’t intend to use pesticides so it will all be down to hand picking and the ‘thumb finger method’. I will aim to be more vigilant next year and hopefully remove the adult beetles before they have had a chance to lay their eggs. So whilst Wimbledon is on in the background I’m thinking…. ‘never take your eyes off the ball’……’never take your eyes off your lilies!’