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Look out for lily beetles13 May 2013
Look out for lily beetles as they can be a real menace at this time of year. They attack not only oriental and asiatic lilies, but also members of the same family including fritillaries and the spectacular Cardiocrinum, which grows to a massive 2m in height and is a real head-turner in the late summer garden.
The adult beetles are very pretty, in brilliant scarlet with a jet-black head and legs. But their grubs are among the ugliest in the garden: found in the axils between leaf and stem, they're fat, orange and usually covered in a mess of slimy black excrement.
Lily beetles and their grubs will defoliate your plants in a matter of days once numbers build up, so keep them under control with regular patrols of susceptible plants while they're active, from March to October.
When you spot an adult beetle, place one hand underneath to catch them as they throw themselves to the ground the moment they're disturbed. The grubs can also be easily dislodged and squashed before they do any damage. As a last resort, pesticide sprays, available from your favourite garden centre, can help control the problem: ask the staff for advice on how to use them responsibly.