Calgary

Red lily beetle attacks Calgary

A greedy new pest that can devour a whole lily plant in a day has descended on Calgary, city officials warned Friday.
Calgary gardeners might start seeing these beetles, originally from Europe and Asia, eating their lilies. ((City of Calgary))

A greedy new pest that can devour a whole lily plant in a day has descended on Calgary, city officials warned Friday.

Red lily beetles recently arrived in Calgary from eastern Canada are attacking gardens throughout the city, feeding on the leaves of native and garden lilies, said Simon Wilkins, the city's pest management co-ordinator.

"Homeowners and gardeners should look for this pest in their gardens. The red lily beetle is a voracious eater. Early detection is an important step in protecting lily plants," he said.

The red lily beetle — which begins as larvae underneath lily leaves — is starting to become a problem in Calgary gardens, the city says. ((The City of Calgary))

Adults can come out of hibernation by April, feeding and laying eggs as late as June. Females lay hundreds of tiny, oval, reddish-orange eggs on the underside of leaves.

The eggs hatch within 10 days, revealing a yellowish larvae with a slimy black coating which then feeds on the foliage.

A large infestation can completely destroy mature plants.

The beetles, which measure six to eight millimetres long at maturity, do not attack daylilies.

Homeowners can avoid bringing the bright red, flying bugs into their gardens by:

  • Checking the soil around new bulbs and plants for larvae and adult beetles.
  • Inspecting lily foliage for eggs, larvae and adults again during the growing season.
  • Removing by hand any beetles, which come off easily, and letting them drop into soapy water.
  • Sprinkling diatomaceous earth — a naturally occurring, silica-based, organic material — directly on the beetles, which will cause them to dry out and die.

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