Lily beetles are beautiful insects, but they’re capable of stripping lilies, fritillaries and giant lilies (Cardiocrinum) back to a few meagre stems. Watch this short Quick Tips video, with entomologist Richard ‘Bugman’ Jones, for advice on how to deal with lily beetles.
Constant vigilance is the answer where lily beetles are concerned. Pick off the adults, and squish ‘em. And look for the clusters of orange eggs, each about a millimetre high, laid on the undersides of leaves. The sticky larvae are pretty amazing, or disgusting; they have their anus on the top of their backs and cover themselves with their own dark red, semi-liquid excrement. This disguises and hides them in the mess, a good defence against predators. Try spraying them off with soapy water. Lily beetles are beautiful insects – but only if you can see beyond the damage they do.