Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Plants for a school garden in College Station TX
July 20, 2011 - I need to plant some things in my school garden. Green plants and plants with some color. Hardly ever rains here. Please give suggestions.
view the full question and answer

Is Lycopodium digitatum native to South Carolina?
December 27, 2012 - Is Lycopodium digitatum native to SC; do you know if it's available in SC nurseries?
view the full question and answer

Ground covers for a shady spot in central Texas
February 23, 2016 - I reside in Austin, Texas and need advice on my xeriscaping project. Portions of my front yard have always been a challenge to get grass to grow, so I have xeriscaped that area with Fairland Pink gran...
view the full question and answer

Getting milkweed seeds into seed mixes from Milwaukee WI
February 07, 2014 - My husband and I are concerned about the Monarch butterfly migration and have started an effort to get milkweed planted along some bike trails here in Wisconsin. This made me think of Ladybird Johnso...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover under live oaks
June 18, 2012 - I have some areas under Live Oak trees (maybe 200 sq. ft.)that remain bare, in spite of trying Habiturf. Soil is dry, poor and shallow. Can you suggest a living ground cover that would not require m...
view the full question and answer

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