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Gardening in Washington State

New invasive: lily leaf beetle

The lily leaf beetle (LLB), Lilioceris lilii, is a bright red beetle in the chrysomelid family native to Europe and Eurasia. In its native range, LLB is a pest of exotic and hybrid lilies. Researchers in the eastern United States have found Asiatic lily hybrids to be most susceptible to LLB while some Oriental varieties are resistant. Lilium henryi ‘Madame Butterfly’, L. speciosum ‘Uchida’, L. ‘Black beauty’, L. regale and L. ‘Golden Joy’ appear to be most resistant.

Adult lily leaf beetles in Bellevue, Washington. (Photo courtesy of E. LaGasa, WSDA.)

Adult beetles overwinter in the soil and emerge in the spring to feed on developing foliage and seek mates. Adult beetles are very active and mobile, and they make a defensive chirping or squeaking noise when provoked. Mated adult females lay eggs in small batches in irregular rows…laying up to 450 eggs during the season. Newly emerged larvae feed on the undersides of leaves. As larvae mature, feeding damage becomes more apparent on older leaves and sometimes stems and flowers.

See Todd Murray’s “Pest Watch: Lily Leaf Beetle.”


9 comments on “New invasive: lily leaf beetle”

  1. Faye Morris said on April 16, 2017:

    I live in Bellevue, WA and have had the lily beetles for the last two years. I use Diatomaceous Earth and also went about knocking any of the beetles I found into a container with some of the diatomaceous earth in it, sealing it afterwards. I haven’t spotted any yet this year but this article reminded me that I’d better go looking.

    • Billye Miles-Seale said on May 29, 2018:

      I just found them on my lilies in Renton, WA today. The damage is extensive. I’m spraying with Neem oil, have ordered Spinosad and will get some diatomaceous earth. I couldn’t figure out what the black “gushy stuff” was; now I know! I’m going to pick them off tomorrow and dump them in soapy water (if I have any lilies left!)

      • Alicia McMurchie said on April 28, 2021:

        Finding and killing them is often more effective – I’ve stopped using Neem oil because it can kill frogs and salamanders.

  2. Sheila Dimitroff said on April 16, 2017:

    I live in Ontario. I had lily beetles about 10 years ago and they managed to destroy an entire bed of lilies! I used diatomaceous earth, some pesticide powder and a a spray. I was diligent for a year and then gave up the second year because I couldn’t keep on top of them. No luck! I have ended up just not planting lilies,

  3. Dana Bush said on April 16, 2017:

    I am in Calgary. I grow lilies in pots, from fresh bulbs each year. Two years ago I was invaded by lily beetles. I go on a beetle prowl ever couple of days. It is only somewhat effective – I may give up on lilies.

  4. Jane currelly said on April 16, 2017:

    I do twice daily inspections with a container oof water,dish soap,and Tabasco.You have to get all of the poopy larvae too.A time for reflection ?

  5. Kelly Drummelsmith said on April 26, 2017:

    I am in the Detroit area of Michigan and found the beetles today. I am hoping some of the ideas to get rid of them help.

  6. Arlene Robbins said on July 8, 2019:

    Recently moved to a Detroit, Michigan, suburb. Just found them after I noticed the lily plant getting more and more holes. I go out every day now to manually kill them. They do burrow into the soil. Neighbor told me that last year they invaded in huge numbers.

  7. Lilian Bray said on July 7, 2020:

    6 year’s ago I was not sure what they were destroyed 90% of my lilies, over the years less battling, this year, I transplanted 7 out of 10 to a different area where I have healthy 30 +lilies, they are doing better, they started to acttack my lupins, gladiolus all the natural creations, I found dish soap and mouthwash, seems to keep them away.

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