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Protect Your Garden From This Little Red Pest

Posted on August 5, 2022
red lily beetle on a leaf
The Red Lily Beetle Has Moved Into Calgary City Limits

Since 2001, Alberta has been home to the red lily beetle. Originally from parts of Europe and Asia, it is believed the pest made its way to Canada through imported plant bulbs. In 2017, records indicate it had travelled as far north as Edmonton, Alta. and caused full infestations. Red lily beetles have been found across Alberta but have recently become prevalent within Calgary city limits.

The red lily beetle is also known as the scarlet lily beetle and lily leaf beetle (Lilioceris lilii). It is known to lay its eggs and develop on lilies, including any plants from the Lilium species like Turk's-cap Lilies, Tiger Lilies, Easter Lilies, Asiatic and Oriental Lilies but not Daylilies. Sometimes, the red lily beetle will also feed lightly on other plants, including Lily Of The Valley, Solomon's Seal, Bittersweet Potato, Hollyhock and various hosta species. It is, however, a devastating pest to true lilies.

How To Identify The Red Lily Beetle

Red Lily Beetles are also known as scarlet beetle due to their distinct, bright red colouring. An adult can grow between six and nine millimetres long. Its wings are bright red but its underside, legs, head, and antenna are all black. It has large eyes, a slim thorax and a broad abdomen. Its antennas consist of 11 segments while its eyes are notched. Often it is confused with the ladybug (Coccinellidae), however, the red lily beetle does not have any spots along its outer shell like the ladybug.

red lily beetle larvae
The Lifecycle Of A Red Lily Beetle

A female can lay up to about 450 eggs throughout a season. She will lay them in batches of 12 to 15 in a straight line located on the underside of lily leaves close to the stem of the plant. They range in colour from red and orange to brown.

When the larvae hatch, they are hungry and most damaging to their host at this stage. They will eat away at the plant for up to 24 days before retreating into the soil to pupate in a cocoon of soil that is bound with saliva. At this stage, the larvae are confused for bird droppings. It can take up to 20 days before they emerge as adults and continue with their lifecycle. During the winter months, they burrow into the soil and emerge in the spring to feed and mate.

up close sshot of a red lily beetle on a leaf
Controlling The Red Lily Beetle

The Red Lily Beetle can be quite devastating to garden plants. Getting a hold of the pest before it reaches infestation levels is best. Aside from calling your local pest control company, you can take some immediate precautions.

First, inspect the soil around any bulbs you have throughout your yard and garden. Also, when purchasing new perennial plants, check the soil for any larvae.

When looking for adults, look around the base and underside of all leaves. Have a bag or bowl of water mixed with dish soap and place it beneath the areas you are investigating. Adults have a defence mechanism when they sense danger — they fall off the leaves with their black underside facing up, blending in with the dirt beneath the plant. Meaning they will fall right into a bowl of liquid and drown.

Another prevention method is spreading diatomaceous earth, an organic, silica-based material, directly on these pests. It causes the insect to dry up and die eventually.

For more information about the red lily beetle or to book an appointment with a professional pest expert, contact Martin's Pest Control today.