Red lily beetles are not native to Alberta and there are few treatments against them. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Gardeners beware: A red pest is preying on Red Deer-area lilies

Lily beetles are chowing down in Central Alberta gardens

Voracious invaders were hiding in plain sight in Pat Young’s backyard.

The Red Deer resident was hanging wash on her clothes line Monday morning when she noticed the lilies she’d transplanted decades ago from her parents’ garden were looking decidedly ratty.

She took a closer look and was startled to see an army of red beetles feasting on the leaves.

“My lilies were being decimated! … I picked off as many (bugs) as I could and I flushed them down the toilet,” said Young, who lives in West Park.

After some online investigating, she discovered these red lily beetles (also known as scarlet lily beetles or lilioceris lilii) are wreaking havoc on many gardens and green spaces in the province.

The flying bugs, originally from Europe and Asia, have been in Eastern Canada since 1943, but only reached Alberta a few years ago. They look like rectangular ladybugs without spots, with bright red bodies that narrow at the shoulder, and black heads, legs and undersides.

The beetles destroy native lilies, and Asian species, but don’t care for day lilies (which are actually not a true lily) or more resistant Oriental lilies, said Christine Cornelius a horticulturist for Parkland Garden Centre.

Cornelius has fielded a few calls about these beetles from Central Alberta gardeners over the past couple of years, but she believes populations have become more entrenched in this area, since many more calls have been coming in this summer.

There aren’t a lot of products that can combat the pests. Cornelius said gardeners can try Trounce, which gets rid of other beetles and insects organically. A City of Calgary website recommends sprinkling diatomaceous earth (an organic silica-based material) directly on the beetles. It will cause abrasions that will cause the bugs to dry out.

Cornelius believes it’s more effective to hand-pick the red beetles off lilies, and also removing the small black larvae and translucent eggs hidden on the underside of leaves. (The Calgary website recommends dropping them in a bowl of soapy water to prevent escape).

Since the bugs overwinter in the soil beneath the plants, Cornelius also recommended checking the soil around bulbs in the fall.

Once infested lily stalks are cut down, she asks gardeners not compost them, since this could spread the insects to other areas.

Young said she plans to burn the leaves and stalks in the hope next year’s lilies are beetle free.



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Red lily beetle. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Red Deer Advocate staff).

Just Posted

Red Deer’s Christmas Wish Breakfast helps children by collecting toys

Donations go to Red Deer Salvation Army and Red Deer Christmas Bureau

Two Central Alberta school districts pay to prepare grads for diploma exams

Clearview and Wolf Creek want all Grade 12 students to Rock the Diplomas

‘Blow themselves up:’ Police worried about butane hash oil extractions at home

CALGARY — Alberta law enforcement officials say they are worried that the… Continue reading

Data suggests violence rising in Winnipeg remand jail; union says meth a factor

WINNIPEG — Newly obtained statistics point to increasing violence at the Winnipeg… Continue reading

Photos: Hundreds attend Red Deer Lights the Night

Cold weather didn’t stop people from enjoying holiday festivities

VIDEO: Stan Lee leaves posthumous message for his fans

Marvel Comics’ co-creator died on Monday at the age of 95

Trump on Khashoggi death tape: ‘No reason for me to hear it’

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said there is no reason for him… Continue reading

Searchers in California fires step up efforts ahead of rain

CHICO, Calif. — Searchers combing a Northern California town levelled by a… Continue reading

Disney details new ‘Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge’ attractions

ORLANDO, Fla. — “Star Wars” fans will soon be able to pilot… Continue reading

Pacific summit ends with no communique as China, US differ

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea — An acrimonious meeting of world leaders… Continue reading

Pope decries that ‘wealthy few’ feast on what belongs to all

VATICAN CITY — Championing the cause of the poor, Pope Francis on… Continue reading

Steep food discounts at U.S. stadiums slow to move north of the border

When the new home of the Atlanta Falcons and United FC opened… Continue reading

Macron, Merkel seek common approaches to Trump, euro

FRANKFURT — French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel consulted… Continue reading

Children of migrants living in U.S. pushing up American asylum-seeker numbers

OTTAWA — As Canada grapples with an influx of irregular asylum seekers,… Continue reading

Most Read