Gardening: Lily Beetle must be controlled or destroyed in Alberta

Ken Fry is well known in the world of bugs. He is head of Olds College’s Entomology department and curator of their extensive bug collection. He has also co-authored a book “Garden Bugs of Alberta” which should be on every gardener’s shelf

At present time, Ken and the college are involved in a study to control or eradicate the Lily Beetle in Alberta. This beetle was first discovered in Airdrie in 2004. In the past 14 years, it has spread north and south along the Queen II corridor. If left unchecked, it will continue to spread decimating the lily population.

The Lily Beetle has a bright red to scarlet back with a black head, legs and underside. They are narrow at the shoulders and range in size from 6- 8 mm long.

Adults overwinter in the soil emerging the last part of April to mid-May, at the same time as the lily emerges. The insects mate and lay a line of tiny reddish orange eggs on the underside of lily leaves.

In mid-June, the yellowish white larva with black eyes emerge from the eggs and start feeding on the underside of the leaves. As the larva grows so does its appetite. The Lily Beetle covers itself with its own feces as protection from predators. If left unchecked larva often consume the complete plant; leaves, buds and flowers. Without leaves the plant cannot replenish the bulb.

By mid-July the larva have burrowed into the soil as a pupa to emerge as an adult at the end of August to continue to feed on lilies. Mid-October they burrow back into the soil and repeat the cycle next year.

Small infestations can be hand-picked as adults, larva or eggs. Watch the lilies as they emerge for red insects that DO NOT have spots. Look at the undersides of leaves to remove eggs. During the summer months, check lilies regularly for damage and remove all larva. If larva isn’t found on the leaves, dig around the plant in the first ½ inch of soil looking for cocoons and larva. Unfortunately, not all lava pupate under the lily plants and can be further afield making them harder to find and destroy once they are in the ground.

If purchasing lilies from outside of Alberta, check soil for larva or adults. If in doubt, discard all soil into the garbage.

At present time Ken, and his team at Olds College are trialing the use of a parasitic wasp, Tetrastichus Setifer, in Alberta. The tiny wasp lays eggs in the larva which then feed on the larva, killing it. So far the wasp has been successful removing most of the beetles from the plots at the college and also been introduced at another site.

The parasitic wasp is native to Asia and has migrated into part of Europe keeping the lily beetle population to a minimum. As Tetrastichus Setifer, only targets the larva of the lady beetle and is tiny, it does not pose a problem to humans or other insects.

Dr. Fry is tracking Lily Beetle infestations across Alberta and needs the assistance of every gardener to report any Lily Beetle sightings to KFry@oldscollege.ca or lilybeetle@arls-lilies.org

Parasitic wasps are being raised at the college, but not in great enough numbers benefit all gardeners. For now, the best solution is to catch and destroy all insects, eggs and larva as they are detected. If there is a known beetle problem, in your garden or neighborhood, check and destroy daily.

Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist that lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at your_garden@hotmail.com

Just Posted

Vandal strikes downtown business

Window with PRIDE poster broken

No new RNs hired to Red Deer hospital emergency department in a month: United Nurses of Alberta

UNA filed a grievance in June in response to what they say is a staffing crisis

Traffic pattern to change for summer near interchange

Southbound Hwy 2 traffic to be shifted

Red Deer couple win $100,000 in lottery

Couple won their money on June 1 LOTTO MAX with EXTRA draw

‘Walking survey’ of Red Deer’s green carts starts this week

Gold stars or pointers on correct use will be left on inspected carts

Updated: SUV smashes through fences and deck in Anders

Driver taken to hospital after SUV veered off 30th Avenue into Anders

Cull hasn’t been able to solve bunny burden in Alberta mountain town of Canmore

CANMORE, Alta. — Problems persist in an Alberta mountain town overrun with… Continue reading

Canada should help Holocaust denier on trial in Germany: civil liberties group

OTTAWA — A civil liberties group is urging the Canadian government to… Continue reading

Westerner Days: Send us your photos

Your reader photo may just make the pages of the Adovcate.

Adam Henrique signs $29.1M, 5-year extension with Ducks

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Centre Adam Henrique has signed a $29.1 million, five-year… Continue reading

Fashion firms upend design routine to focus on speed, trends

NEW YORK — Prototypes? Passe. Fashion company Betabrand saw that knitwear was… Continue reading

Trimming and tidying: Perennials need care too

The great attraction in growing perennial flowers is that you never have… Continue reading

Johnny Depp settles lawsuits involving former managers

LOS ANGELES — Johnny Depp has settled lawsuits with his former business… Continue reading

Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber falls to Bryce Harper in Home Run Derby final

WASHINGTON — Nationals Park was eerily quiet late Monday when Kyle Schwarber… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month