Red Alert: Lily Leaf Beetle Eggs

Nip your lily leaf beetle problem in the bud, or in the egg, by squishing this pest’s red, shiny ova before they hatch. Here’s what they look like… laid in a line, on the underside of lily leaves.

Oriental and Asiatic lilies are particularly yummy to the lily leaf beetle, and the three successive generations of these bugs per summer can denude a lily as quickly as that.

No leaves, then no food production to feed the bulb. Soon, no bulb.

In my garden, 2009 was the worst invasion yet of these pretty, but voracious, red beetles. For info on safe control of the adults and larvae (fingers may be involved), see my posts from June and August of last year, here and here. But the best defense is at the egg stage, when they’ll hold still long enough for the Flying Squishing Fingers of Fate to do their business. Get to it.


  1. What a horrible pest! Thank you for posting this warning.

    I've never known of them coming this far south, but I'm going out soon and look under leaves, just in case.

  2. Great alert! These beetles are really bad news to our lilies! I have been ruthless with them… fingers being my most ready weapon. In protecting my lilies I can bear my murderous behavior. I leave the carcasses on the plants to warn other beetles off. Gardening can be such a battle of the fittest! I had not thought to look for eggs. Thank You!

  3. I have mostly given up on lilies because of the beetles. How can anything so pretty be so pestilential? but then I suppose Snow white's stepmother was pretty hot too and she was up to all sorts of no good.

  4. Helen, Thanks for this information. I took most of my lilies out about 5 years ago when, given the combination of deer who liked to nip the buds off and beetles that left the rest of the plant a disgusting mess of black poo, I realized that I actually saw very few lily blooms. A few hardy plants somehow persisted, though. I find it just about impossible to capture these pests in the beetle stage; they move so fast. I will get out and look for eggs. -Jean

  5. I was picking these off my lilies all summer, then a neighbour replanted her lawn with bugle weed that was totally infested. The beetles aren't touching the bugleweed but have destroyed my lily of the valley border and are spreading. What can I do?

    1. Hmm, Krys, The lily leaf beetle goes for plants in the lily family (which includes hostas and lily of the valley), so I'm surprised to read that your neighbour's bugle (Ajuga) was infested. However, the beetles do pupate in the soil, so perhaps the earth the bugle was growing in came from somewhere close to a lily patch, even in a nursery, where beetles had been active.

      At the moment, the only organic control that I know of (other than the squish technique, which is instantly effective on a one-on-one basis) is spraying with Neem oil. You either have to saturate the soil or make direct contact with the adults. The protective coating of poo around the larvae might protect them from the spray.

  6. Hi, great article! I have had my lilies infested with these diabolical bugs for three years. This year i decided to completely annihilate them from my lily patch, and my method seems to be working.

    First, I dug up the biggest, healthiest lilies, and potted them.
    Then, I squashed every single egg I could find – being in pots made this easier.
    Next I sprayed the lilies with neem oil- it is used as a leaf shine for indoor tropical plants, is non-toxic and those beetles HATE it. (it smells bad.)
    I also dampened the soil in the pots, to deter them from burrowing into the soil to hide.
    As any larvae emerged from eggs i missed, I clipped those leaves, removing the larvae and their hideous poo.
    I have been doing this for two weeks, and so far so good.

    This fall, before returning the lilies to their patch, I will once again spray to dampen the soil around the lilies, replace them, and hope that my reign of destruction will send them away, never to return….

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