Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Demons In My Garden

We finally had some decent weather this week after so many days of rain, so I decided to take advantage of it and catch up on some chores in the garden. I was really eager to get out there because a garden tends to misbehave if you’re not vigilant about maintaining it. In addition, it’s important to keep a careful eye out on the riffraff that shows up when gardener supervision is absent for extended periods.


I must have been away for much too long because all hell broke loose out there, literally. Not only did the plants and weeds spin out of control, but I discovered – much to my horror - that demons had moved in.

Yes, really, demons. I have proof. Take a look:

These are the most evil things you’ll ever find in your garden. Their official name is Lilioceris lilii, but they’re commonly referred to as ‘red lily beetles’. And if you’re unfortunate enough to have your garden infested by them, you can kiss your lilies good-bye. Which is what I did yesterday.

Lily beetles eat the leaves, stems, buds and flowers of lilies, fritillaries and other members of the family Liliaceae. Within days. And by the time they’re done with them, the poor plants look like they’ve been run over by a train.

There are no registered chemicals for lily beetles, and there are no natural predators or parasites of these demons in North America, so you have two choices in dealing with them:

1) Regular handpicking and crushing of eggs, larvae and adults. Adults can be drowned in soapy water is you’re queasy about crushing.

2) Avoid growing susceptible plants in the first place. This includes numerous beautiful cultivars of lilium.

Last year, I spent weeks trying to keep these beetles at bay. And they kept coming back. Again and again. They ate through my lilies until they looked like they’d been put through the shredder. It was a sad sight.

The garden is much larger now with a lot more responsibilities, and I do not have the time or the patience to deal with lily beetles this gardening season. And next gardening season. And every gardening season after that. So yesterday, I made the sad decision to do without lilies. When I got outside, I removed the ruined plants; they looked horrible, and the flowers on many of them didn't look like they were going to open, after all, because of how damaged they were.

Lilies are my favourite garden bulbs, but they're too much trouble. I will just have to do without them until a suitable remedy for demon beetles is found. Perhaps a natural predator will be introduced in time that will keep these pests at bay.

Until then, no more lilies for this gardener.

Good-bye, my sweet plants. I will miss you...sniff...

[reaches for kleenex...dabs tears from eyes...]

Jeez, you guys...get a room...


  1. Yikes! I've just started growing lilies this year. Hopefully, I won't have to deal with the beetles.

  2. That is some serious riffraff lol - good one. They do look like little demons and they they behave like them too. A real shame about your lilies

  3. I finally gave in and dug up the lily bulbs this year. In other years I've been able to keep on top of them (at least I thought so), but this year they were back with a vengence. And not being able to do the amount of gardening I usually do I decided to get rid of the lilies. And guess what those darn red lily beetles have disappeared too. I'll just have to find somthing else to take their place.

  4. Wow! I don't think they are too prevalent up here, since my lilies have lived and thrived for a few years now. They sure are colorful though.

  5. @Bom - I hope you never have to deal with these beetles! They are just terrible. You should check to see if you have them in your area, though.


    @Jane - I am upset about my lilies, but I just don't have time to deal with these bugs. I didn't finish pulling up all the lilies yet, but I'll get to each one. Only one of my lilies hasn't been infested; I figure it's a matter of time before they find it.

    @Crafty Gardener - Last year, I really fought to keep my lilies, but the beetles just kept coming back. I'm just not in the mood for this type of battle. Perhaps in time, something will hit the market that will deal with these pests more easily.


    @Tatiana - You've been lucky so far. These pests are in your province; it hasn't been that long since they arrived, so it's possible their numbers aren't that big, and that they haven't spread around as much. Keep a lookout for them. And hope that they never find their way into your garden!