Thursday, 5 May 2016

The evil weevil

I've squished the first scarlet lily beetle of the season, that had started laying waste to an already sickly Martagon in the extensive gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers...

"Mein Kampf" aka the Daily Mail has declared war on them as it does to any other kind of foreigner - they are "aliens", a "scourge", leading an "invasion of biblical proportions", according to them. Loathe though I am to agree with such a sordid rag, scarlet lily beetles are indeed vile beasts.

The adults are what might - had they not such a reputation - be classed as "beautiful". Their cheerful red carapaces are a match for the garden-friendly ladybird, and one could imagine jewellers creating fine gems in their image, like the famed scarab, or the dragonfly.

However, present one of these beetles with a prized Cardiocrinum, Snake's Head Fritillary or Regal lily - all of which we grow - and it will munch chunks out of the prettiest without much effort. It also has a self-defence method of jumping off its food plant and turning its black underside upwards, becoming practically invisible against soil.

And, once fed and paired up with a mate, what of this beetle's sweet, cherished babies?

Maggots, covered in their own shit to protect against predators such as ants or wasps, in their hundreds! These monstrous grubs can reduce a lily plant to little more than ribbons in a day or two.

We tend to avoid spraying, as we love bees and hoverflies. So vigilance, examining every leaf and squishing as we go is all we can do. Oh, the joys of gardening!


  1. I just moved a row of day lilies a month ago and they're blooming already, tough little bastard darlings.

    1. I don't believe the day lily (Hemerocallis) is a target of the lily beetle [lucky you!]; it used to be classified in the same family, but apparently now the botanists have identified that it is more closely related to Asparagus! I should try growing it here, but as it is renowned for growing huge - and, despite all our efforts in transforming the garden we do only rent this place (so tend to avoid much in the way of permanent planting) - we've not gone for it. So far. Jx


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