A surprise lily and not so surprising lily beetle


I was pottering around the potatoes and to my surprise I found a pot of lilies!

I don’t know how this got put with all my spring bulb pots, which are ready to be stored away and refreshed in the autumn.

old plant pots

I salvaged it immediately but to my horror I also found the dreaded lily beetle.

I don’t like killing wildlife of any sort but these are an invasive species in the UK, which makes ‘disposing of them’ a little easier to cope with. The RHS have a good page all about the lily beetle if you want to know more about its origin and distribution in the UK.

We only started to find these in the allotment last year and for such a lovely looking little pest they do a lot of damage.

lily beetle

When Adam tore down our old shed he found a lot of them and gathered them into a little pot. He was very eager to make me listen to them. I wasn’t impressed by this but they did make a very loud squeak!

I have other lilies growing elsewhere in the garden. Lovely yellow day lilies in the front garden and a few dotted around the allotment.

foxglovesA few lilies are planted in the higgledy-piggledy wildlife garden. Hope they don’t attract the ‘wrong’ wildlife though!

.peach lily

How has your garden been for pests this year? What’s your worst pest? Have you seen any of the giant Spanish slugs yet?!


33 Responses to “A surprise lily and not so surprising lily beetle”

  1. Ricki Grady July 6, 2013 at 7:06 pm #

    The beetle is really cute: looks like a little red sports car. We live in the land of slugs, but they have plenty to munch on in the surrounding forest. When we find one, we just fling him out there.

    • Anna B July 6, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

      Hi Ricki! Yes I tend to fling snails and slugs too. Sometimes I put them in the composter, prisoners but with plenty to eat. Not sure if that’s cruelty or kindness??!!

  2. Cathy July 6, 2013 at 7:25 pm #

    I took pity on the single one I found last year and put it in our green bin a with a lily leaf – not so this year, when they have arrived with their families! I can’t say I am happy with the concept of killing them, so I try to tell myself that it’s their fault and they don’t belong here! I am intrigued about the sound you say they make – do they have a language all of their own? Can you talk lily- beetle?! Look like an Aldi pot of lilies – I was hoping to get some red ones this year, but they must have gone first.

    • Anna B July 6, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

      Hahaa! Hi Cathy! Yes that must be their own language! If anyone could talk to them I reckon Adam could. He’s also responsible for bringing the lilies, red ones sound nice!

  3. Cathy July 6, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

    I haven’t heard of Spanish slugs, but we had one on our lawn a couple of weeks ago and it was about 10 inches long! Snails are my main problem though. And if I plant a lily I can be sure the beetle will appear here too, although they don’t go for the day lilies. I wonder where they suddenly appear from – or do they have an amazingly good sense of smell?!! ;-)

    • Anna B July 6, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

      The Spanish slugs are massive and an orangey colour. We had loads last year, none so far this time round! The lily beetles are crazy creatures, I’m intrigued now as to how they sniff the lilies out. Interesting to read about their distribution here, they stayed down south for so long before venturing up north. Perhaps the people in the south got fed up & stopped planting lilies!

  4. pianolearner July 6, 2013 at 10:38 pm #

    Wellywoman and I keep meaning to buy some lilies. Must do some for next year. I’m note sure if the area has many beatles. Fingers crossed

    • Anna B July 17, 2013 at 5:16 am #

      Hey dude! I hope you and wellywoman are well! I hope the little critters haven’t made it to your area either! Fingers crossed indeed!

  5. gardeninacity July 6, 2013 at 11:41 pm #

    I have never seen a lily beetle. Really this year has not been too bad for pests. Even the mosquitos have been relatively uncommon. I hope your lilies are left unmolested by those lily beetles!

    • Anna B July 17, 2013 at 5:40 am #

      Hi Jason, I’m pleased the dreaded beetle hasn’t found you! They are menaces. I’ve not seen any monster slugs this year so apart from the beetle I’m fairly happy too!

  6. croftgarden July 7, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    Disposing of the adults is tough – it is just a case of the “close your eyes and think of England” approach. Getting rid of the larvae is not pleasant, they resemble lumps of brown slime on the underside of the lily leaves but can be washed off with a jet of water. Yuk!
    We’re having an aphid year, but its good for the ladybirds.

    • Anna B July 17, 2013 at 5:41 am #

      The larvae is disgusting, you’re absolutely right! At least the beetles are colourful!

      • croftgarden July 17, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

        It is a pity they are such beautiful beetles

  7. Christina July 7, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

    Lily beetle is a tenaLily beetle is a tenacious pest here too! I don’t know how they find my lilies, there can’t be another garden that has lilies for about 5 km, but as soon as the lilies start to grow in spring – there they are! My husband is the best pest remover and takes on this job as a way to look at the garden when he arrives home in the evenings.

    • Anna B July 17, 2013 at 5:50 am #

      Hi Christina, yes I usually leave the pest control jobs to Adam too! We both love creatures of all kinds though so it is difficult. I just try to think that the lily beetle is invasive over here and so it needs to be killed off to restore the balance!

  8. djdfr July 7, 2013 at 7:58 pm #

    Those beetles (criocère in French) have totally denuded my Madonna lily and one poor blossom is hanging down the half broken stem, trying valiantly to bloom anyway. I only managed to catch one of the beetles and squished it between two pieces of slate.

    • Anna B July 17, 2013 at 5:50 am #

      Squishing between slates sounds like a good plan!

  9. thesneakymagpie July 8, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

    I really hope never to see a giant Spanish slug in my garden! Pest de jour are aphids that ate all my broad beans. x

    • Anna B July 17, 2013 at 5:51 am #

      Aphids ate your broad beans? I’ve never encountered that one, just weevils! I don’t like sharing my food!! x

  10. char July 9, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

    I have so many slugs at the plot at the moment, I think it’s because I’ve had one section of it covered over in plastic – they seem to like to live under that.

    • Anna B July 17, 2013 at 5:54 am #

      Hi Char! Yes unfortunately they love anything that they can crawl under and hide and lay their eggs under. I used to have the same problem when I covered sections of my plot too. I just leave everything exposed over winter now and apart from last year I do seem to have less slugs

  11. Anna July 9, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    Have been battling against them for the last few years Anna but this year they are even more numerous. Have now developed a perfect picking up and pinging technique but will not go into details. Long may my acquaintance with the Spanish slug be delayed!

    • Anna B July 17, 2013 at 5:55 am #

      Pick up and ping!!! Wow! Those spanish slugs were immense weren’t they. Thank goodness it’s dryer this year!!!

  12. about sean's food July 10, 2013 at 9:38 am #

    I wouldn’t waste a second in squishing the beetle. It may be cute but I would much rather have the lily – they’re so very pretty. At the moment I’ve been having the odd slug near my celery and some sort of bug is wickedly attacking all of my cabbages, cavolo nero included. It’s covered in holes and I’m worried that they might not properly form. Really like your garden by the way. Your flowers look lovely.

    • Anna B July 17, 2013 at 5:58 am #

      Haha! Hi Sean! You can come round and squish the beetles in my garden if you like! Unfortunately brassicas do get attacked – maybe try an organic spray? I don’t like to use chemicals on something I am going to eat but every now and again I use an organic one and it seems to work :)

  13. Caro July 11, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

    Yikes! Thankfully no sightings of huge orange slugs here, Anna! I did see a couple of lily beetles last year, such a glorious colour, fabulous to photograph, can’t remember what I did with them, probably just relocated. Rosemary beetles, on the other hand, with their gorgeous stripes, get immediately squished. I will, however, be much more vigilant looking out for lily beetles this year as I’ve added quite a few more lilies to the garden … Love the fact that Adam can speak beetle! *chuckle* C xx

    • Anna B July 17, 2013 at 6:00 am #

      Hi Caro! Yes I love the way Adam can talk to the creatures too! I’m not always impressed though when he tries to introduce me to them – especially the little grub things he seems to always find! I’m really pleased I’ve not seen the monster slugs either, let’s hope they’re on the decline!! xx

  14. Nadezda July 20, 2013 at 7:45 am #

    Anna, we have no this beetle but the snails eat the lilies as well. I find them on the petals every morning and kill. Every lily has a hole in its petals! Terrible! Your allotment looks nice! Hope to see soon your new garden!

    • Anna B July 20, 2013 at 8:18 am #

      Lilies are damaged so easily! Thank you so much for dropping by :)

  15. Born To Organize July 26, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

    We continue to struggle with the dreaded scale. Our young Magnolia is infested with little to do. I worked diligently in the late winter scraping off every bit of it from the dormant tree, then wiping the branches down with soapy water. Looking at the tree now, its as if I did nothing at all. It’s amazing how something so small can inflict such damage.

    Your lilies are darling

    • Anna B July 26, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

      Aw thank you so much! What a shame after all the care you put into looking after your magnolia, although maybe if you hadn’t done that it would be much worse by now? I hope your young tree becomes stronger and more resistant if that’s possible? I don;t know much about scale.

      • Born To Organize July 26, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

        Thanks, Anna. Apparently it is endemic to this particular tree in our area and very hard to control. The scale attaches to young branches and can kill the tree. Further, ants protect the scale from predators so they can harvest the ‘honeydew’ secretions produced by the scale. The good news is that it hasn’t spread to neighboring trees, but it is unsightly and disappointing. I’ll keep trying…

        • Anna B July 27, 2013 at 11:14 am #

          Poor tree,sounds like a nasty predator with its own ant protection! You’re giving it a lot of care so I hope you can keep it alive. :)


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