Red lily beetles are a soft, beetle-like creature that insect enthusiasts would find rather pleasing to the eye. Those that grow lilies would likely have a different opinion. The red lily beetle can decimate and entire garden of flowers in as little as a day, doing it permanent damage. The red lily beetle also has been known to survive extreme winters making them one of the more difficult garden pests to kill.
Identify the red lily beetle by looking for insects with a striking red body and black legs. The red lily beetle is highly destructive to lilies. Both the adults and the larvae will feed from spring to autumn attacking the stem, flower and foliage. They usually start with the leaves. If you notice your leaves have been eaten then there is a good chance you have red lily beetles.
Take two caps full of neem oil and 4 drops of Ivory washing up liquid. Mix with water in a spray bottle and apply it to the plants. This will treat the leaves and the foliage. This mixture will not actually kill the beetle. However it will stop their eggs from hatching. Spray the leaves and foliage generously. You can wipe the soap and water away but leaving it will not harm the plants.
Pour the neem oil solution at the base of the plants. The solution will not harm the plant and will prevent any further infestation of eggs developing near the plant's root system. The larvae and the adults can live anywhere on the plants. The stems and the leaves are good placed to start looking because these are two of the most common feeding areas. You can identify the beetle larvae by looking for a black sludge type of material.
Take a large sized bucket and fill it with warm water. Next take 118 ml (1/2 cup) of washing up liquid and mix. Pick the beetles off the flowers by hand and flick them into the water. This is time consuming, but effective. Next run your hands up the stalk of your plants and remove any of bits of black residue that look like bird droppings. These are the larvae that have camouflaged themselves with their own faeces. Pick off the larvae as well.
Mix 9 parts water and 1 part household ammonia. Place in a spray bottle. In the spring time when the lily buds first start emerging, spray the flower and the surrounding earth. The lily beetle larvae go dormant over the winter and emerge as adults in the spring. This solution should kill them before they have the opportunity to hatch. Following this treatment up with an insecticide is recommended. If your are making a true effort to stay green, there has been some success with using parasitic wasps to control the red lily beetle population.
Lily beetle larvae can be found by scratching the earth around the bulbs or newly sprouted plants. The sooner you deal with the problem the better your chances of avoiding an infestation.