So how do you kill the scarlet lily beetle? This is quite possibly the best question I have asked this summer. Why, because my prized Nepalese lilies are covered in them and I have already spent over an hour this morning popping and squishing both the red adults and their evil looking larval children. My first recommendation is to wear gloves when commencing this course of action but unfortunately I saw red (how appropriate) as I cast my eyes over the ravaged mess that was once luxuriant foliage.

The problem with lily beetles is that when they are disturbed, they have this irritating habit of dropping to the ground and lying motionless on their backs. This makes it the devils own job to try and find them if your lilies are growing in the ground. Furthermore, if left unchecked, lily beetles will couple frantically and lay their eggs hidden from view on the underside of the lilies leaves.

In a further attempt to avoid discovery, the dull orange larvae will first hatch, then cover themselves with excreta to deter predators allowing themselves to feast on both the lily leaves and flowers with impunity!

Once they have had their fill they will drop to the floor and bury themselves in the soil beneath your plants in order to pupate before hatching out in their scarlet adult form. In this manner they are more than capable of producing multiple generations in a single year. This is why it is important to regularly check your lily plants late in the season, even when there are no longer any flowers. You really cannot take your eye of the ball with regards to this.


Because of the juveniles effective camouflage and the adults capacity to hid and drop out of site, squashing lily beetles as a control method may not be particularly practical, although it can me extremely satisfying. As a far more effective measures go - and particularly with heavy infestations - you may need to apply a systemic insecticidal spray.

While this may not be an environmentally ethical method of controlling lily beetle, at least it will work, but I will advise that you do not apply this group of chemicals to you plants while they are in flower, otherwise beneficial pollinating insects can be seriously affected.

Alternatively, use a contact insecticide such as Permethrin, one of the Pyrethroid insecticides. Just be aware that you will need to apply Permethrin on a regular basis and it will only kill what it touches. As mentioned before, do not spray the flowers as again, it will kill beneficial pollinating insects.

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Janet said...

Am I the only person that thinks lily beetle is a beautifullittle creature? but then they don't get as far north (yet)to destroy my lilies.

Shazi said...

I just moved my lily plant to a sunnier spot this season. I'm hoping that will help keep the lily beetles away.

Danphilrob said...

To Janet & Shazi
you will not think they are beautiful when you come back to your lillies after 6 weeks in Spain as I did last year to find youe lily leaves and lily buds totally devistated.They are veracios once they gat a hold and I spend hours(so my wife says) on my hand and knees searching for the little b*ggers.however many I kill there always seem to be more next day!!>They reached Manchester last year!

Anonymous said...

Rosie/Iver Heath bucks
The little devils have eaten all my lilly flowers!
Just bought spray but I think it's too late this year, don't think there will be any more flowers,, so looking forward to my stargazers which I got it the local centre at half price! !

Anonymous said...

@Janet: Yes, they're pretty but my appreciation for their shiny red shells fades when I see my long-awaited, fragrant Star Gazer lilies chewed to pieces. I don't like using any chemicals and don't mind a few chewed leaves, but these insects will totally devastate ALL of your lilies.

RainyDayInterns said...


If you are going to "borrow" the image from RainyDayGarden, at least credit the source:


Simon Eade said...

Hi RainyDayInterns and thank you for your comment. If you took the time to read the article to it end rather than go straight to the comments you will notice that a reference has already been given, along with a back link to your site. You will also notice that in all my articles, all photos and references contain link-backs to their original sources. I am happy to remove your photo along with the back-link if it makes you feel better.

LB said...

Try Neem oil. I mix it with water and a little bit of dishwashing soap and it seems to help a lot.

C Wischhusen said...

Relentlessly patrolling the entire garden to catch and squish before they mate (or while mating) is the only method that really works unless you want to spray the whole garden as they also go on fritillaries, tulips, daffodils and peonies.

Henry Jon said...

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Pest Control Arlington Va

Matt Mourachian said...

Just cut down my lilies that I have waited all year to enjoy. The lily beetles had destroyed it, never heard of these little buggers before but they have found their way to RI?

Michelle Marsha said...

I live in Wolcott vt and those darn things have destryed my lillies!! This is the first year Ive had them. I use 10% household ammonia and that helps, not resves but helps. Goodluck!

Elizabeth Hickey said...

I fought these red beetles for 5 yrs. in Manitoba. I used natural sprays, but they need to be destroyed by hand. I cringe every time I catch one, but they are voracious. I've since moved to Ontario and they are here now ... in my lilies. SHEESH! I'm trying a spray of water, dish detergent and hot sauce (my neighbour swears by it).

Sally Curtis said...

I live in South Wales UK and have got a box full of different types of Lilies including tree and Alpine and stargazer lilies and am constantly removing the little bugs from my lilies what can I use to kill them as there constantly munching on my flowers thank you

Sally Curtis said...

I live in South Wales UK and have got a box full of different types of Lilies including tree and Alpine and stargazer lilies and am constantly removing the little bugs from my lilies what can I use to kill them as there constantly munching on my flowers thank you