Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Spanking the Lilies

Beside the back door of our house we have a group of tiger lilies that should look like this by August.

But each year they usually end up looking like this instead.

The culprit is the lily beetle, a small orange insect that originated in Europe and Asia and arrived in North America sixty years ago, hidden in a shipment of flowers.  It lives in the soil around the lilies and emerges each spring to mate and lay eggs. The adults and larvae dine on tender young lily leaves, leaving them in a very sorry state.

This year I watched carefully for signs of damage to the leaves. My usual plan of attack is to pick the beetles off the leaves and drop them into a pail of water with a little dish liquid added. Hand-picking seems to be the most reliable method of control, since approved insecticides are ineffective on them, stronger poisons are illegal where we live, and the little beasts seem to have no natural enemies.

Until last week I noticed no sign of the pests during my twice daily inspections. Maybe this would be a beetle-free year for the first time in over a decade. I rejoiced as the lilies grew tall and flower buds appeared at the top of the long, thick stems. Then suddenly last weekend, the enemy struck with a vengeance. Maybe they were celebrating Independence Day. One evening the lilies where undamaged and healthy; the following morning they were riddled with holes and covered with orange menaces.

I grabbed my pail, filled it with water, added a dash of detergent, and went into the garden to do battle. Holding the pail at the base of a lily with one hand, I patted the stem none too gently with the other, and was gratified to see beetles fall from the plant and land in the bucket. I systematically worked my way through the patch, whacking the lilies and harvesting the unwanted pests.

"You're spanking the lilies!" Ron observed.

"It's the bugs that deserve the spanking," I replied as I worked. I can see that I'll be busy for the next few days, spanking the lilies until the pests are under control. Kinky gardening can be fun!

From Hermione's Heart


Anonymous said...


Good luck spanking the lilies.


Roz said...

LoL Hermione, Isn't it amazing where you can find kink and spanking.

Good luck, I hope you manage to eradicate the little beggers!


geekie kittie said...

Ooo so THAT'S what those bugs are. I have seen them around too but had no idea what they were!!

I'm gonna go find some lilies to spank too!!! (we have lots of wild ones out at the lake)

ronnie said...

Nasty little bugs.

Good luck with the spanking.


Aimless Rambling said...

Who knew that a little spanking benefits everyone and everything.

Good luck with getting rid of the "beasties".

Sassafrass said...

Spankin' the lillies, that's funny stuff.

maryanne said...

funny! thanks for sharing this.

Redendmaker said...

Try setting out a low plastic container like a salad/slaw one from the supermarket or deli and put some beer (stale is ok). This kills earwigs, slugs and many other bugs around plants. Some drown, slugs sort of melt. Easy trick, much like killing ants in the house with Windex. Eco friendly too. Good luck

Bobbie Jo said...

I love tiger lilies and I wish I had some. I guess I will have to get some bulbs and plant them. :-) I never heard of these bugs before, either, so thanks for the heads up.

Hermione said...

Joey - It's a tough job but someone's gotta do it.

Roz - Me too!

Lost Kittie - Wild lilies? Cool!

Ronnie - They are evil little eating machines.

Sunny - Thanks, I'll need it.

Sass - Thank you. I try my best!

maryanne - My pleasure.

Redend - Yes, I have used that for trapping slugs in the past but not sure the beetles are interested in drinking. The dogs would get there first:)

Bobbie Jo - Most nursery catalogues have them for sale in many colours as well as the original orange. Enjoy!


Terpsichore said...

I hope spanking the lilies helps

Hermione said...

Terps - It's doing the job so far.


garyntboy said...

We have those beetles in our garden too, they are SO annoying......little blighters....we sprayed our lillies last year with a bug killer and touch wood they haven't returned this year as yet !!!!
Hope you solve your problem dear heart.
King regards,

Hermione said...

Gary - I'm glad you were successful. We thought the dye in bright red cedar mulch would poison them, but alas, it only slowed them down till July. I'll get them yet!