If you haven’t started already, it’s time here in the UK to begin inspecting your lily plants for these:
Scarlet Lily beetle, a modern invader to our shores that has no natural predators here and whose grubs and adults can completely defoliate your lilies in days if left unchecked.
They’re only small – about a centimetre or so long -but their brilliant scarlet colouring makes them pretty easy to spot, although you do need to inspect under the leaves for the adults, their eggs, which are about a millimetre long, orangey-red and laid in small clusters, and any grubs that may have hatched out (they cover themselves in their own excrement – nice!).
Control is either by hand (pick ’em off and squish ’em!) or there are chemicals available, such as Provado Ultimate Bug Killer (I don’t use chemicals if I can avoid them, so I don’t know how effective this is).
One tip if you’re controlling by hand is to have a small pot or bowl at the ready and when you spot one of the little blighters, put the receptacle underneath and knock them into it, because one of their defence mechanisms when attacked is to drop to the ground on their backs so that their black undersides are uppermost, at which point you will have almost no chance of spotting them!
I’ve only caught three thus far this year, but I do only have a single pot of tree lilies to patrol, and I re-pot them every autumn to try to dispose of any over-wintering adults, so I really shouldn’t have a big problem.
Good luck to all lily-lovers out there!