Scarlet Lily Beetle | Fact & Control

So in today’s article, we will be looking at a totally different species of bug, the scarlet lily beetle. Now, these bugs are loveable but can be quite difficult when you try growing lily bulbs.

Now, scarlet lily bugs can be misidentified as ladybugs, and hopefully, by now, you know that ladybugs are really beneficial.

The Scarlet lily bugs have been around since prior to world war II but they laid dormant for a real sort of 50 or 60 years, but unfortunately, they are now breeding like wildfire and you can find them all over the UK, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland and they are really becoming a menace for anybody growing lilies.

Now, these beetles will only attack lilies and do not really attack anything else. Over the winter they basically live under the ground and in the soil and come out throughout the spring.


What Are Facts About the Scarlet Lily Beetle?

Scarlet Lily Beetle
Picture of the Scarlet Lily Beetle

So, here’s a close-up of the scholarly bug now, the scientific name of these bugs is called Lilioceris lilii, but they can also be called red beetles, which are an obvious name because their whole body is bright red.

They are indigenous to parts of Europe and most of Asia and have also been reported in parts of Canada and America.

This is mainly down to the importation of lily plants and bulbs, but due to a large amount of distribution and invasions from the bugs and vast amounts of Lily bug species, many countries are now declining. They are almost identical red to a ladybug but ladybugs have a slightly shorter around the body and have up to seven black spots on their bodies.

As soon as the warmer sunnier spring temperatures start to occur the scarlet lily beetles will start emerging from the soil at around the exact same time. The younger lily bugs will start pushing through the soil, and it is said that the scarlet lily bugs are awakened by a smell or chemicals that are given off by the young shoots.

As soon as they are fully awake, they will then go on the hunt for food and a mate. Scarlet lily bugs are extremely prolific and will make it all the way through the entire season and lifespan of the lily.

Also much like ladybugs, they can fly from flower to flower but instead of being beneficial like ladybugs, the scarlet lily bug will actually strip the flower from top to bottom. Once the male is finished mating he will then fly off to find other mates and other food sources. The female will then look around for a nice safe place to lay her eggs.

They can lay around 450 eggs in one season, but usually around 12 per time (the female will lay small orange eggs). We advise you to check your lilies daily for any of these eggs, which could be on the top or bottom of the leaves. The eggs will then start slowly turning into lava which can take between 7 and 14 days.

Now, even at this young age, they will start stripping your plant from foliage to flowers as they grow. They will look like something straight out of a horror movie and they are quite disgusting. We definitely would not advise doing this with your hands mainly because the larvae will defecate all over themselves.

Now, we are not sure if they do this to protect themselves from predators or if it is just a really nasty health issue, but they use their own excrement as a kind of cocoon before they turn into a fully mature bug.

Once they are fully fed as larvas, they will then go into a pupa stage which will take around six weeks. They will then emerge as the bright red scarlet lily bug you know around midsummer once fully mature.

These bugs will then go on the hunt to decimate as many plant lives as possible. Now these newer bugs will cause a lot of damage, but they won’t actually reproduce until next year as there is only one reproductive generation per season.

They are around 8mm in length and are quite small, but it only takes two or three of these to be on one plant for the plant to be destroyed over a small amount of time.


Read also: Why Do Ladybugs Fly?


How Do I Control a Scarlet Lily Beetle Infestation?

The first sign that you may have a scarlet lily beetle infestation is dark brown sticky fecal dots, which are known as frass.

Now before we knew what to look for, we just thought these were bird droppings or dirt that had been kicked up by local cats or other animals, but these small dark patches are actually the lava covered in their own feces.

Now, there are quite a lot of chemical treatments that you can do for this but I definitely don’t recommend doing that at all as these are extremely harmful to bees and other pollinators. Instead, we’d recommend using homemade insecticides or you can use handpicking.

Now, if you are using hand picking we’d definitely recommend doing it as quickly as possible because the scarlet lily bug will send out a fair amount of other bugs in the area. This is also done by setting up a high-pitched squeal which lets all the other bugs know there is danger in the area.

Those bugs will then drop to the ground and show their belly and cover themselves in soil. So if you are handpicking, definitely look around the base of the plant as well.

The easiest way is to get some kitchen rolls, or toilet rolls and place them on the upper and lower part of the leaf, and gently scrape the lava off.

Now, we have seen other information on the internet saying to remove these leaves or remove the flowers, but Asiatic lilies and other species only flower once, so definitely do not do this.

When you see all the larvae are now onto the tissue, you can discard this however you see fit. Now as we said before, you may have to do this daily because they do reproduce quite a lock so keep an eye out for those little black bulbs.


Read also: What Does a Ladybug Eat? | Diet Exposed



Spray all the eggs accordingly. Do not apply in direct sunshine because it will break the eggs, so always apply after the sun has set and the night temperatures start to cool.

Well, hopefully, today’s article has helped you identify and treat the scarlet lily beetles issues if you are growing lilies.

If you did benefit from this article, do not forget to give it a thumbs up and share it with your friends if you haven’t already.

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