Alright ornamental plant lovers, this is one nasty BAD bug! At least it is bad when it comes to your lily flowers…
I saw this little guy hanging out on my kale and collard greens so I was immediately suspicious at first as to what he was doing there. It didn’t seem like he was eating anything however. He was more-so scoping the place out, looking for lilies probably.
The bright-red lily leaf beetle, Lilioceris lilii, is a pretty easy one to spot. They are native to Europe and turned up in eastern Mass. in 1992. They LOVE to eat the leaves of lilies and fritillaria. If they are not controlled, they can kill your plants.
(An important thing to note is they only eat true lilies, those of the Lilium genus, including Asiatic, Easter, & Oriental lilies. Don’t worry about your daylilies, you know, the one that you see growing EVERYWHERE. Those are in the genus Hemerocallis and are not true lilies.)
Lily leaf beetles lay reddish-orange eggs on the underside of lily and fritillaria leaves. It is the just hatched larva that causes the most devastation so be on the look out! Because these bugs are imports, they have no native predators here. The University of Rhode Island researchers have traveled to Europe and collected some larva of the parasitic wasps, a natural predator of the lily leaf beetles. They are currently introducing the wasp to the region in hopes that this will help curb the population of the red lily leaf beetle. So far, it seems to be working out.
In the meantime, stay on the look out for these red little bugs on your lily plants and PLEASE! do not mistake lady bugs for the red lily leaf beetle. Lady bugs are very beneficial to have around in your garden! take a good look at the pictures and make sure you know your bugs! Pick the red lily leaf beetle adults, eggs, and larva off your lilies, making sure you get rid of them. You can drop them in a can of vegetable oil or water with a lid.