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Growing Wisdom: Ornamental Lily Beetles
If you love to grow ornamental lilies or fritallaria beware the ornamental lily beetle may be headed for your area if it not there already.
 
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cording to Cornell University, the lily leaf beetles likely stowed away aboard a European plant shipment, and they first were found on this continent in 1942 near Montreal, but it was not until 1992 that they were seen in the Boston area. Scientists are not sure if these two sightings are from the same infestation. Since their discovery in Boston, the beetles have been spotted throughout eastern Massachusetts and have continued to spread throughout the eastern regions of New England. By 1998 and 1999, the beetles were found in New Hampshire and along the southern border of Maine. They have been seen in Vermont, New York State and other regions of the northeast. 
 
The adult beetle has a bright red shell with no visible markings.  Hand removal and crushing them can be quite effective if you have a small area to control.  The larvae are quite disgusting and need to be taught some better hygiene.  They cover themselves with their own excrement, most likely a defense mechanism.  You can identify the larvae as they look like bits of muddy soot or dirt.
A good biological control is neem, an insecticide based upon extracts from the neem tree.  You can find neem at garden centers under the trade names Turplcx, Azatin EC, Margosan-0, Align and BioNeem. Neem kills larvae and repels adults. Neem is most effective on young larvae; it must be applied every five to seven days after egg hatch.  The insecticide imidacloprid also provides effective control but it is synthetic and not organic. It is available in several formulations from Bayer including foliar sprays, soil drenches, and fertilizer stakes.  As always take care and follow instructions carefully when using any control organic or otherwise.
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