Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - August 06, 2007

From: E Dummerston, VT
Region: Northeast
Topic: Pests, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Defenses against imported red leaf beetles on lilies
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I've recently discovered small red beetles of some kind on my lilies, which they are happily devouring. I've been picking them off with my fingers and squashing them, but I'd like a better alternative. I'd prefer not to use chemicals. Is there a homemade recipe I can try that will kill them? Can you tell me what they are? I've never seen them before this summer. Thanks for your help.

ANSWER:

Indeed, you are the victim of the red leaf beetle. The reason you are just now seeing it is that it only recently migrated into New England, probably from Europe with a shipment of lily bulbs. There are no known predators of this pest in the Western Hemisphere, and the little monsters can destroy a lily in a very short time. It attacks only the true lily, not daylilies. There are three stages in which the beetle is visible on your plant: the eggs, small black spots on the underside of the leaves, the larvae, nasty slug-like creatures, and the beetle itself. Hand-picking is about the best suggested method, and if you have only a few plants, this might suffice. Actually, the larval stage is the most destructive, actively chewing up everything it can get to, but to destroy the eggs and the beetles is to destroy future larvae. When you are hand picking them (a nasty job, you must really love your lilies!) make very sure they're dead, whatever stage you're after. One suggestion was to drop them in a container of soapy water or water with vegetable oil on the top. Don't just knock the beetles off.

 

More Pests Questions

Problems with Ashe juniper from Lakeway TX
May 25, 2013 - Dear Sir/Madam, I have been living for the last three years in Lakeway, Texas approximately 20 miles west of Austin. In my back garden there are several ashe junipers about 15-20ft tall. However...
view the full question and answer

Pill bugs in potted plants in Atlanta GA
June 14, 2013 - Hello, I repotted four aloe vera plants two days ago with a cacti soil and watered them thoroughly in terra cotta pots according to directions on the bag. Well the next morning the pots had pill bug...
view the full question and answer

Identity of small objects that look like tiny pecans
November 14, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I am doing my science fair project on acorns. Last year I measured how many acorns and other nature-y stuff fell into a baby pool from a live oak tree in my backyard every ...
view the full question and answer

Small tan balls on oak from Pipe Creek TX
May 21, 2014 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, our spanish oak is growing tan colored lumpy balls about the size and weight of a marshmallow..sometimes just one at the end of a short stem and sometimes 2-3 clumped together....
view the full question and answer

Problems with rusty blackhaw viburnum in Austin
May 07, 2010 - I have a four foot rusty blackhaw viburnum. Last summer the leaves turned reddish and in the late summer most of them fell off. This February the plant started to leaf out and then bloomed. It has ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.