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I've found two pests on my plants and I have no idea what they are. One is a bright red beetle and the other is VERY tiny, brown, slimy, and slug-looking. Among other things, they are eating the leaves of my lilies. Can you help? Thank you! Joyce.

Answer

Great question, Joyce. Those red beetles are "Lily Leaf Beetles" and those tiny, slimy bugs are the Lily Leaf Beetle Larvae.

The beetle was accidentally introduced into the United States through Montreal, Canada. It was discovered in Massachusetts in 1992 and now is found in all six New England states. This beetle lays its eggs and completes its life cycle on true lilies. A study at the University of Maine has shown that Asiatic Lilies are the most vulnerable, while some oriental lilies are slightly more resistant. The Lily Leaf Beetle spends the winter in the ground or in leaf litter and starts laying eggs in early spring. Each female can lay up to 450 eggs which takes about 1-2 weeks to hatch. The eggs are laid on the underside of the leaf. No matter what life stage these insects are in, adult or larvae, they feed off the lily's plant material. The slime they're covered in is actually the larvae's excrement.

As they devour your plant, they pile their feces on top of themselves as a defense mechanism. It makes them difficult to see, difficult to destroy and very unpleas- ant to touch. They range in color from a red-orange to a dark brown. To prevent damage, it's important to get rid of these pests early in the season, before they have a chance to reproduce. The organic way to get rid of these pests is to remove them by hand or to use Neem Oil which will kill the larvae and repel the adults. You'll want to wait for the ground and plant to be dry and then drench the plant and surrounding soil with the oil. Getting rid of the larvae can be difficult because their "fecal shield" provides them with some protection from the spray. So a complete and heavy coverage every 5-7 days is necessary.

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About Linda Lillie

Linda K. Lillie is the President of Sprigs & Twigs, Inc, the premier landscape design and maintenance, tree care, lawn care, stonework, and carpentry service provider in southeastern Connecticut since 1997. She is a graduate of Connecticut College in Botany, a Connecticut Master Gardener and a national award winning landscape designer for her landscape design and landscape installation work.

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