En EspaŅol

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?


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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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


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.


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

How do I prepare blackfoot daisies for winter in Austin, TX
October 19, 2010 - I have blackfoot daisies in my garden that have bloomed all summer. They are cascading out of the bed onto my lawn/grass. They have been so beautiful that I hate to cut them back. How do I prepare t...
view the full question and answer

Native perennials for Donley County, TX
July 16, 2009 - What are the best perennials to plant in Donley County, TX?
view the full question and answer

Plant ID from Foster RI
April 05, 2012 - I have a weed flowering plant in bloom in a moist semi-shaded area. I would like to send a photo but I do not know how to upload.
view the full question and answer

Use of cedar/juniper mulch in wildflower meadows
August 31, 2013 - What to do with freshly shredded cedar/juniper mulch? We have a pile of freshly ground cedar mulch that we can either keep in a large pile until it has composted(but the neighbors are complaining), or...
view the full question and answer

Opinion of 5 best native garden plants in Oklahoma from Burneyville OK
September 07, 2013 - What would you say are the 3 to 5 BEST native garden plants for south central Oklahoma?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center