Pests in the garden – Lily Beetles and Snails

Bees on Lily

Bees on Lily

The recent warmer weather has brought a number of pests into activity in the garden and sent others into semi-hiding.

Lily beetles are stunning to look at with a bright red wing cases and black legs. They may eat other plants in your garden, but their preferred diet is Lilies and Fritillaries; and it is these two on which they lay their eggs.

Red Lily Beetle

Red Lily Beetle

The cold spring has delayed the emergence of the adults, but they are now on the move which means gardeners need to be on the alert. They may have overwintered anywhere in the garden so treating the soil around your Lilies and Fritillaries doesn’t always prevent a spring and summer onslaught of these pests. The adults are looking for host plants so they can lay eggs under the leaves, and will do this generally from April to mid-summer; although, as we have seen this year, and last, there can be some variation.

If you only have a few tasty Lily Beetle dinners in your garden, the easiest for m of control is to pick the adults off and squish them with your boot or trowel. Remember to check the underside of the leaves of the Lilly or Fritillary plant on which you found the beetle and remove any eggs as well.

If you miss any eggs, the larvae look like a blackish squidge on the leaf as they tend to roll around in their own excrement when not eating your plants.

Red Lily Beetle on Fritillary

Red Lily Beetle on Fritillary

To recap – the insects you want on your Lilies and Fritillaries are Bees such as you can see in the Lily photo and not Beetles such as you can see in the Fritillary photo.
Snails (Helix aspersa) may have been less noticeable in the garden since the weather has become warmer and drier but they are still around, waiting for your seedlings and young plants to offer up a tasty meal. Check for snails underneath plant pots, behind large planters and at the base of fences where they’ll find shade during the day. For the home gardener, the easiest method is hand collection and disposal; for example, squish underfoot, throw in a bucket of water, or offer to your garden blackbird for breakfast.

snail Chelsea Flower Show

snail at Chelsea Flower Show

Throwing over the fence is not recommended: the snails always return. There have been a few experiments to see how far away you have to take your garden snails to prevent them returning. One trial was carried out whereby snails had their shells marked with nail varnish (a different colour for different areas and gardens) and were then transported varying distances away. The snails seemed remarkably consistent in finding their way back home over short distances. The further away they were deposited the fewer snails returned; but this could have been due to other factors; the perils of crossing busy roads for example.

The moral? If you tip your snails into your neighbour’s garden they will return to eat your lettuces, but if you take them on a trip to the supermarket car park they’ll probably not manage to travel back home…

Enjoy your Bank Holiday Weekend!
Marie,  Senior Partner, Plews Garden Design
If you’d like Plews to help you with fighting pests or you’d like a planting design made of less tasty plants do get in touch.

snail on car reg plate

snail on car reg plate


5 responses »


  2. Pingback: Lilium Scarlet Delight, Orienpets, Red Lily Beetles | small house/BIG GARDEN

  3. Pingback: Responsibility |

  4. Hi! I know it’s been a while ago… Do you perhaps know who (artist, company) built the giant snail at the Chelsea flower show 2010?


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