It’s time to check for red lily leaf beetle in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko

red lily leaf beetles and lilies
Red lily leaf beetles courtesy Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org, left, and Gordon Ballard. Lily photos by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Connie Oswald Stofko

Gardeners in Western New York have started to notice the red lily leaf beetle, which can devastate your lilies (true lilies, but not daylilies).

I’ve written about red lily leaf beetles before; see details here.

Last year we shared a couple home remedies that might keep red lily leaf beetles away. One is diatomaceous earth and the other is a homemade spray.

There aren’t any controlled studies that look at how effective either of these methods are, but they probably won’t do any harm, said John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County.

Have you tried either of these methods? Did they work? Have you tried anything else? Did you give up and get rid of your lilies?

Please share your experience by leaving a comment.

19 Comments on “It’s time to check for red lily leaf beetle in WNY

  1. I live in Springfield, MA but my daughter lives in Buffalo, NY. I’ve been a member of your group for a few years. I have many lilies in my 50×100 City Plot. I grow lilies on all 4 sides of my home and around the garage. I used a Bayer product a couple of years ago. Last year I tried a soap solution with coffee grounds. I still found many beetles. The Mason jar or Solo cup filled with a soap solution for collecting beetles really works as the Hot Summer weather sets in, but you have to do this twice a day morning and late afternoon. I will NOT be getting rid of my lilies, I’d rather stand and fight.

  2. I had complete lily devastation in container plants 2 years ago. No saving the plants. Dumped the plants out, cleaned the pots, and reused last year. Only two bugs last year with the regular use of Neem spray and Captain Jack’s Bug Killer. As soon as lilies start to grow I hit them with Neem. I also give the end of season soil a blast of it too. I think former neighbors had them and did no remediation.

  3. I got rid of my lilies. If everyone eliminated lilies, maybe in a few years the beetles would all be gone and we could start with new lily stock? Worth a shot.

  4. It’s interesting that some gardeners are getting good results with Sevin. Remember to not use insecticides on plants with open flowers.

  5. While cleaning my lily beds last week I noticed my first red lily leaf beetle of the season which I shushed in my fingers. Last year I caught them early in the season and was able to destroy most of them. The trick is to be observant and not to let them propagate. Once the lilies start to pop up from the soil. I begin spraying the foliage and the ground around the lilies where the beetles are. This seems to work great for me, but you have to keep your eye on them.

  6. I’ve used Neem the last two years
    it works well but you really have to soak the plant and under the leaves. Must be diligent, spraying every few days and after it rains. I check the plants in the morning and again in the evening using a cup and small branch to scrape the the eggs off. A few years ago I had a nice Lily garden but after the second year with these bugs, I had to dig my bulbs up. I keep a few Lily’s in containers now. Just easier to manage. It’s a shame. Lily’s were so low maintenance before this 🪲.

  7. After two years, despite hand picking, home remedy, Sevin and more, I unfortunately ended up getting rid of all my beautiful lilies (Cheektowaga).

  8. I keep a mason jar filled with dish soap and water near my lilies. I’ll check them once a day and knock any beetles that I see into the jar. It’s best to hold the jar right under the beetle because as others have said they tend to drop when they are disturbed. That seemed to control them for the last couple of years. It was an easy solution and I didn’t need to use any chemicals

  9. I noticed them fairly early, thanks to the article I read here last year. I diligently wiped off the larva (covered with their own feces) from the underside of the leaves. I started noticing the row of tiny red eggs on the underside of leaves and would destroy them. I squashed the beetles when I found them, although many dropped off. I like the idea of the solo cup. This year I will be watching carefully and will spray with neem weekly.

  10. I had used Neem for 2 summers, works for awhile but if it rains it washes it off. I tried the humane way, flicking them into a cup also. They are voracious eaters so the only way to salvage my lilies was using Sevin dusting powder.

  11. Last year they devastated my beautiful flourishing lilies. I was too late And didn’t realize what they were in time to save the plants.. I’m ready to hit them with big guns right out of the gate this year- would love to hear the best practices anyone can share.

  12. I rely on needle nose pliers to squish them. Holding a red solo cup under the beetle while trying to catch it with the pliers is helpful because the beetle sometimes falls off the plant. The cup underneath will catch it!

  13. My husband has already sprayed Neem on emerging Stargazers as they were eaten quite a bit last year. Neem works, but much better if you are diligent, early, and spray every few weeks! and yes, they are quick. Once they drop to the ground, they disappear!

  14. If you have lilies you must take this seriously!!! I tried culling them by hand and killing them but they are quick! I also tried hosing them off. In the end I lost the battle and have no true lilies in my yard anymore. ☹️ (Niagara Falls)

  15. I gave a few puffs of sevin when they appeared in the Spring, would check occasionally during growing time, puff again with Sevin if needed and had no problems after that

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