Lily beetle infestations frustrating Edmonton gardeners

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Lily Beetle infestations up in Edmonton
WATCH: The lily beetle first made it's appearance in Edmonton about five years ago, and the invasive is starting to impact more gardens. Sarah Komadina has the story – Aug 17, 2019

Scarlet lily beetle infestations appear to be on the rise in Edmonton, according to Classic Landscapes manager Perry Stothart.

He said the invasive pest started eating up lilies in Edmonton about five years ago.

“This year, by far, the explosion has been unprecedented. We are seeing people on a daily basis coming in and having a problem with the lily beetle,” Stothart said Saturday. “It’s alarming whenever you see something ravage your plants, especially since a lily is supposed to be nice and it takes it the other way.

“They are bright scarlet red. People notice them. They actually let out a little squeak when you go to grab them.”

The lily beetle originates from Europe and Asia, and made its way to Eastern Canada more than 70 years ago. It only recently came to Alberta. This beetle will rarely eat other plants.

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“Normally, you will have things that can attack insect pests and as their populations rise, the predators attack them and can then bring down those populations,” Stothart said.

“But, in this case, they don’t have those natural predators, so they are sort of free reign to attack our lilies and really ravage our crops.”

READ MORE: Invasive fish species makes its way into Rideau Canal

Amelia Bellamy-Royds planted her lilies five years ago. This is the first year the lily beetle got to them and it’s been an ongoing battle since July.

“They were absolutely devouring the plants, eating through the leaves, eating through the petals,” Bellamy-Royds said.

“[Lilies are] usually so fabulous and easy to take care for and some [of] these plants, I don’t know if they’re going to survive.”

Once the beetle is in your garden, it will likely be back. The pest winters underground and will start to attack lilies in the spring.

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Lily beetles can lay between 200 and 400 eggs per generation, and it’s hard to get rid of them. Stothart suggests starting to look at your lilies early in the season, picking off the beetles and putting them into a jar of soapy water.

READ MORE: Tiny Asian wasps brought in to fight Calgary’s invasive lily beetle

Stothart said to also look under the leaves for larvae and get rid it too.

“Diatomaceous earth is great,” Stothart said. “It’s sort of a white powder you spread on the soil. Slugs, beetles, anything that crawls over it, it can really control the population as well.”

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