Home / Leaf Beetles (Chrysomelidae) / Red Lily Beetle (Lilioceris lilii)

Red Lily Beetle (Lilioceris lilii)

Red lily beetle of the leaf beetles family is native to certain parts of Asia and Europe but has become invasive in the United Kingdom and some regions of North America. This beetle has an ill-reputation of eating lily plants and causing significant damage to them, hence the name.

Red Lily Beetle

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Leaf Beetles
  • Genus: Lilioceris
  • Scientific name: Lilioceris lilii

Physical Description and Identification

Adult

Size: 6 – 9mm (0.23 – 0.35 inches)

Color: These beetles have scarlet red elytra, while their antennae, head, legs, and eyes are black.

Other Characteristic Features: They have large eyes, alongside a lean thorax and broad abdomen. Their elytra appear rounded and shiny, while the antennae comprise eleven segments.

Lilioceris lilii
Scarlet Lily Beetle

Larva

The larvae appear orange, brown, or yellow and hatch in a week or two from the eggs laid. They feed for approximately 24 days and mostly eat the leaves’ undersides or the nodes in between the meeting point of the leaf and stem.

Scarlet Lily Beetle Larvae

Pupa

The pupation period takes place underground, and the adults emerge from the cocoon in 20 days.

Red Lily Beetle Pupa

Egg

The eggs have a reddish-orange or brown color laid in irregular lines on the leave’s midribs.

Red Lily Beetle Eggs
Scarlet Lily Beetle Eggs

Quick Facts

Other NamesScarlet lily beetle, lily leaf beetle, red beetle
Adult lifespanApproximately one year
Duration of larval stageAbout 24 days
DistributionNative: Europe and Asia
Invasive: Parts of North America, North Africa, Middle East
HabitatTemperate regions where lily plants grow
Seasons active fromMarch – July
Host PlantsLilies (true lilies, daylilies, tiger lilies, trumpet lilies), potato, hollyhock, Solomon’s seal 
Diet of larvae and adultsLeaves, buds, stems, and flowers of their host plants
Red Beetle
Red Lily Leaf Beetle

Identifying the Damage Caused by Them

The red lily beetle larvae cause the majority of the damage. They eat not just the undersides of the leaves but every other part of the plant, including the flowers, stems, and buds. They make big, oval holes at the center and even chew the leaves to such an extent that only the stems remain at the end. Tracking the larvae and destroying them is extremely difficult since they hide under the covering of their excrement.

The adult beetles also eat voraciously, yet they feed less on the foliage. However, they, too, are responsible for spoiling the plants since the females lay most of the eggs on the midribs, causing harm to the tissues.

In a garden in Nova Scotia’s Waverly, the number of lily plants declined from 50 (in 1996) to just 1 in 2006.

Ways to get rid of them

Applying insecticides near the lily plantations is one way to get rid of the red lily beetles. When added near the lilies, coffee grounds have also known to help in deterring the beetles from causing damage. Another way to keep a check on their numbers is by adding floating row covers, as in this way, the adults won’t be able to feed or even lay eggs near the lilies. Spraying soapy water on the grubs or even applying neem oil on the leaves’ undersides where the infestation is maximum are ideal ways to kill the larvae.

Red Lily Beetle Damage

Did You Know 

  • They are often confused with the cardinal beetle also having red elytra and black undersides, yet the two have prominent differences. The cardinal beetle has a flatter and more elongated elytra and comb-shaped antennae. It also feeds on insects, while the red lily beetle is herbivorous.
  • Its introduction in North America dates back to 1943 when plant bulbs were imported.
Lily Leaf Beetle
Scarlet Lily Leaf Beetle

Image Source: images.glaciermedia.ca, i.pinimg.com, ag.umass.edu, oakleafgardening.com, observation.org, warehouse1.indicia.org.uk, s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com, wiscontext.org, warehouse1.indicia.org.uk, oldhousegardens.com, researchgate.net, i1.wp.com

Red lily beetle of the leaf beetles family is native to certain parts of Asia and Europe but has become invasive in the United Kingdom and some regions of North America. This beetle has an ill-reputation of eating lily plants and causing significant damage to them, hence the name.

Red Lily Beetle

Physical Description and Identification

Adult

Size: 6 – 9mm (0.23 – 0.35 inches)

Color: These beetles have scarlet red elytra, while their antennae, head, legs, and eyes are black.

Other Characteristic Features: They have large eyes, alongside a lean thorax and broad abdomen. Their elytra appear rounded and shiny, while the antennae comprise eleven segments.

Lilioceris lilii
Scarlet Lily Beetle

Larva

The larvae appear orange, brown, or yellow and hatch in a week or two from the eggs laid. They feed for approximately 24 days and mostly eat the leaves’ undersides or the nodes in between the meeting point of the leaf and stem.

Scarlet Lily Beetle Larvae

Pupa

The pupation period takes place underground, and the adults emerge from the cocoon in 20 days.

Red Lily Beetle Pupa

Egg

The eggs have a reddish-orange or brown color laid in irregular lines on the leave’s midribs.

Red Lily Beetle Eggs
Scarlet Lily Beetle Eggs

Quick Facts

Other NamesScarlet lily beetle, lily leaf beetle, red beetle
Adult lifespanApproximately one year
Duration of larval stageAbout 24 days
DistributionNative: Europe and Asia
Invasive: Parts of North America, North Africa, Middle East
HabitatTemperate regions where lily plants grow
Seasons active fromMarch – July
Host PlantsLilies (true lilies, daylilies, tiger lilies, trumpet lilies), potato, hollyhock, Solomon’s seal 
Diet of larvae and adultsLeaves, buds, stems, and flowers of their host plants
Red Beetle
Red Lily Leaf Beetle

Identifying the Damage Caused by Them

The red lily beetle larvae cause the majority of the damage. They eat not just the undersides of the leaves but every other part of the plant, including the flowers, stems, and buds. They make big, oval holes at the center and even chew the leaves to such an extent that only the stems remain at the end. Tracking the larvae and destroying them is extremely difficult since they hide under the covering of their excrement.

The adult beetles also eat voraciously, yet they feed less on the foliage. However, they, too, are responsible for spoiling the plants since the females lay most of the eggs on the midribs, causing harm to the tissues.

In a garden in Nova Scotia’s Waverly, the number of lily plants declined from 50 (in 1996) to just 1 in 2006.

Ways to get rid of them

Applying insecticides near the lily plantations is one way to get rid of the red lily beetles. When added near the lilies, coffee grounds have also known to help in deterring the beetles from causing damage. Another way to keep a check on their numbers is by adding floating row covers, as in this way, the adults won’t be able to feed or even lay eggs near the lilies. Spraying soapy water on the grubs or even applying neem oil on the leaves’ undersides where the infestation is maximum are ideal ways to kill the larvae.

Red Lily Beetle Damage

Did You Know 

  • They are often confused with the cardinal beetle also having red elytra and black undersides, yet the two have prominent differences. The cardinal beetle has a flatter and more elongated elytra and comb-shaped antennae. It also feeds on insects, while the red lily beetle is herbivorous.
  • Its introduction in North America dates back to 1943 when plant bulbs were imported.
Lily Leaf Beetle
Scarlet Lily Leaf Beetle

Image Source: images.glaciermedia.ca, i.pinimg.com, ag.umass.edu, oakleafgardening.com, observation.org, warehouse1.indicia.org.uk, s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com, wiscontext.org, warehouse1.indicia.org.uk, oldhousegardens.com, researchgate.net, i1.wp.com

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