En Español

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 Herbs/Forbs Questions

Failure of tall garden phlox buds to open in St. Louis MO
July 30, 2009 - Why won't the buds of my tall garden phlox open? Plants are apparently healthy, no powdery mildew or visible insects, foliage looks great and buds are profuse but they don't open. I have two clumps ...
view the full question and answer

Native plants suitable for rock garden in New York
March 26, 2006 - I'd like to start a rock garden. The area is very rocky, the soil is shallow and it's partially shaded. I'd like mostly perennials that flower from spring to fall. I hope to make some purchases fr...
view the full question and answer

Cutting back of non-native Salvia Elegans in Portland OR
December 31, 2011 - I did not trim back my pineapple sage in the fall. It is now winter and the plants are bare sticks. Should I cut them back or leave them alone?
view the full question and answer

Watering for Scarlett Milkweed in Florida
October 18, 2008 - I have a Scarlett Milkweed and it was doing very well until this last week. It now has yellow leaves that are falling off and no flowers. It says on the tag that the water is low once it is establishe...
view the full question and answer

How to have year round color in the garden in Fort Worth
October 23, 2010 - Hello, I'm sending an SOS for a miracle! Since planting is the best now during the fall or so I've been told for North Texas Native Perennials, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed. My beautifully mat...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center