London (change)
Today 15°C / 8°C
Tomorrow 18°C / 6°C

What's nibbling my Lilies?


by Richard Jones

We get lily beetles occasionally but when I bent down to pick up this red insect it turned out to be a striking black and red plant bug and not a beetle at all...


After writing an article on how and why to keep a garden wildlife diary for BBC Gardener's World Magazine, I've been invited to go electronic and turn it into a blog. My handwriting is atrocious so maybe this will be a good way of keeping the diary legible and accessible!

The garden of our semi-detached East Dulwich house in south London isn't huge at about 25 metres long, but it does boast a small pond and there are enough scruffy bits to encourage all sorts of wildlife. And some of the neighbouring gardens are even more wild and overgrown. Since my main interest is in insects, these are obviously going to feature pretty heavily here, but we also get our fair share of birds and beasts through too.

lily beetleA few days ago I noticed that the lilies growing in a pot just outside the front door had been nibbled. We get lily beetles occasionally but when I bent down to pick up this red insect it turned out to be a striking black and red plant bug and not a beetle at all (see pic).

Corizus hyoscyami doesn't have an English name because, until recently, it was very rare in Britain, and more or less confined to coastal sand dunes. But in the last couple of years it's started to turn up inland and I think this is the first time it's appeared in London. The next day I saw a note on the British Bugs email interest group that someone had found it on his allotment in Suffolk and was enquiring about its status. At least the soil is sandy there; if it can make itself at home on our heavy London clay, it can live anywhere. It feeds on a wide number of native wild plant species so it's unlikely to become a nuisance, just another brightly-coloured insect to decorate the garden. I'd certainly be interested to hear whether anyone else has seen this critter in their own gardens.



Discuss this blog post

Talkback: What's nibbling my Lilies?
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step

Gardeners' World Web User 13/07/2007 at 18:47

I wondered if it was one of the many types of Shield Bugs!

Gardeners' World Web User 13/07/2007 at 20:13

I live near Newark in Nottinghamshire and I have seen noticed "new" beetles in my garden this year. Regarding the Lily beetle I have killed about a hundred this year and have had to wipe their disgusting larve off the Lily leaves and squash them, this is even after spraying the plants with the proper spray.

Gardeners' World Web User 14/07/2007 at 12:40

I live in France - outskirts of Paris and have this beetle everywhere in my garden. They particularly like my hollyhocks.

Gardeners' World Web User 14/07/2007 at 20:40

We live in Hungary, where it is hot and dry in Summer. Our soil is very sandy. These bugs are resident here and swarming all over our garden. They do not appear to do any harm.

Gardeners' World Web User 14/07/2007 at 22:07

We have been inundated with the lily beetle here in Ontario, Canada and it is spreading. We have tried spraying with hort. oil as it causes them not to breathe. They are picked off and squashed also, but they are soon back again. It is the larvae they leave that is the problem. This year, like others, I am cutting them right down after flowering, if the buds are not already ruined, and will spray the ground where they live. One lives in hope.

See more comments...