bug of the day
Originally uploaded by urtica.
Talk about a charismatic microfauna! The lily leaf beetle (Lilioceris lilii) is an interesting invasive species, and not just because of its striking red exterior. Accidentally introduced through the import of ornamental lily bulbs, the beetles, now found in Canada, New England and New York, will destroy any Asian lilies (Lilium spp.) in your yard if left to their own devices (note that this does not include the daylilies (Hemerocallis spp.).
Maybe you are thinking that there is an obvious solution here: don't plant Asian lilies, and the lily leaf beetles will just go away. As usual, it is not that simple. Not only will they feed on bittersweet nightshade (Solanum dulcamara), a common weed of yards and parks, but they will reproduce on native lily species as well.
This week's episode of the PBS series The Victory Garden, titled "Annual Pleasures," features a discussion of planting lilies and includes photo I took of a lily leaf beetle back in 2003. Since then, I have gotten rid of all of the Asian lilies that were growing in my yard, but as the photo above demonstrates, the beetles are still hanging around.