Categories > Pests

Scarlet Lily Beetles – Kill Them Dead

Scarlet lily beetles (Lilioceris lilii) a new pest to watch out for in the lily garden. They affect Asiastic, Oriental, LA, and Martagon types of lilies. Scarlet lily beetles do not bother Daylilies (Hemerocalis). Over that last 20 years they have been making a steady migration across the county from Montreal, folowing an apparent inadvertent import from Europe.

Scarlet lily beetles over winter in the soil surrounding lily stalks in the fall. They come out in early spring just as the lilies are emerging. The adults are hungry and ready to get on with life and mate. Any one female can lay as many as 250 eggs.

You will know Scarlet Lily Beetles are around if you see:

• multiple unsightly holes in your lily leaves.
• their bright red rectangular shaped bodies (slightly larger than a lady bug) and rather large black antennae.
Scarlet Lily Beetles love to hang out upside down on the bottom sides of the lily leaves. When they detect any slight danger, they drop off of the leaf backwards, landing on their red backs with their black underbelly facing up – an impressive protective mechanism because it makes them next to impossible to see in the soil.

There are few chemicals that are effective against Scarlet Lily Beetles, so the most effective way to catch them is to go out regularly, like every 2 or 3 days, and catch them manually. This requires resolve and diligence, but this war can be won.

How to catch the adults:

• Because of their predictable back flipping, this is a technique that is wonderfully effective:
o Very gingerly, without shaking the lily plant, hold a sealable container filled ½ full with soapy water or vinegar against the stem below the beetle and knock the leaf the beetle is on – it WILL back flop right into your container.
And drown.
• Keep scouting for adults all summer, they stick around until fall.

Getting the Eggs:

• Scarlet lily beetle eggs are easy to find. They are bright red, laid in an impressively straight line on the undersides of the lily leaves. The beetles hatch about 2 weeks after the eggs are laid.
• Pick off the leaves with the eggs and put them in a sealed plastic bag so they have no chance of surviving.
Death by suffocation.

Getting the juveniles:

• As the juveniles grow, they cover themselves with their own excrement as a way of camouflaging and making themselves less desirable for birds (No kidding no sane bird would eat that!).
• As with eggs, the best way to take care of the these beetle babies is to pick off the leaves that they are on and add them to your above sealed container with the soapy water or vinegar or you could just put these a sealed plastic bag, so they will die.

In the autumn:

• Lily beetles over winter in the first 2-3” of soil around the stalk of the lilies. Loosen up the soil vigorously after the first few frosts to disrupt their napping and you can catch a few more that way.
• The more beetles you catch on this side of spring the better.
• Lily beetles tend to take flight this time of year and they do fly well. That is how they have spread from garden to garden, town to town, and province to province.

Be encouraged to do your best to rid our gardens of this agressive beetle – you have to be diligent but you can do this!




Natural Pest Control – Aphids

These sap sucking pests are around all summer long in small amounts but their populations increase impressively in late summer. Some of the first signs of an aphid attack are shiny sticky leaves with white or black flecks (egg casings), yellowing or misshapen leaves, and a general overall lack of thriving growth. Here are some strategies to help cope with them.

Who they are:

  • tiny bugs that hang out on undersides of leaves or on stems
  • can be almost any color of the rainbow ranging from green, pink,  yellow, to grey or – black
  • they are the size of the colored head of a sewing pin, so easily seen with the naked eye

What They do:

They suck the nutrients out of plant leaves.

Aphids Love:

  • Dianthus
  • Petunias and Calibrachoa (Million Bells) especially purple and yellow varieties
  • Lupines
  • Nasturtiums
  • Dahlias
  • Manitoba maples

General Strategies to decrease bug infestations:

  • have ‘trap crops’ away from your garden.  Trap crops attract aphids & they will stay there & feed.
  • ‘Trap plants’ include: Manitoba maple trees, lupines, mint, fennel, dill, dandelions, yarrow
  • plant garlic & onions – aphids hate the smell
  • spray with a strong flow of water daily until they are gone

Natural pest Control recipes:

See the links below for ideas:

1. Gardening Know How


2. Organic Gardening


3. The Rhubarb Compendium – has 2 insecticide recipes for leaf eating insects including aphids, cabbage caterpillars



Deer & Rabbit Resistant Perennials | Gardening

Deer ravage country gardens and rabbits love to mess with country and urban gardens.  We are often asked for ideas for deer and rabbit proof annuals and perennials.  Unfortunately, there is nothing ‘proof’ when it comes to deer and rabbits – when hungry enough, they will eat basically anything that’s not poisonous to them.  Below we have listed some strategies to help combat these pesky visitors and hope that this helps somewhat.

General guidelines:

Use plants:

  • with a bad taste or smell
  • that are highly fragrant
  • that contain a milky sap
  • that are highly textured with fuzzy leaves
  • that have prickly stems
  • like ornamental grasses – deer have difficulty chewing they long stems

The following is a list of perennials that deer tend to avoid sourced from fellow gardeners, customers at our greenhouse, and perennial suppliers.  Please remember that this is a general list but there is no guarantee that deer or rabbits will not eat these.  Let us know what you discover.

  • Achillea (Yarrow)
  • Aconitum (Monkshood)
  • Aquilegia (Columbine)
  • Artemesia (Silver Mound)
  • Cerastium (Snow in Summer)
  • Delphinium
  • Dictamnus (Gas Plant)
  • Dicentra (Bleeding Heart)
  • Digitalis (Foxglove)
  • Euphorbia (Spurge)
  • Lupines
  • Monarda (Beebalm)
  • Nepeta (Catmint)
  • Rhubarb
  • Salvia

A few other strategies:

  • Be aware of time / weather that makes your garden more vulnerable to visits from deer and rabbits i.e. drought
  • Protect vulnerable plants with physical barriers like cages, netting, and noisy materials that flap in the wind
  • Put up fencing
  • Plant less desirable plants

Wishing you success because this is a challenging issue!


Comparing Peonies: Shrub vs Tree vs ITOH

Peonies are wonderful shrub-like perennials with huge flowers boasting wonderful fragrances that people have a certain sentimentality about because often they grew in their grandmother’s yard. In fact, those peonies are likely still growing in that same yard because they are one of the longest lasting and easiest care perennials around – they can last up to 70 years or more.

Perennials can be even said to be a ‘no care’ perennial just as long as you don’t divide them, which can cause certain death.  The biggest two drawbacks about Peonies is that they often need to be staked and some people hate how ants are attracted to the buds.  Ants aren’t needed for the buds to open but they definitely love the sugar in the sap.

The peonies of our grandparents’ day are still around but there have been some ‘modifications’ to them.  They have been crossbred (not genetically modified) over the years and now we have three major classifications:  Garden, Tree, and Intersectional (aka ITOH).  Below is a chart of the differences in habit and care. If you have time, check out the website: it has wonderful information and great pictures.

peony care


Sources: Perennials for Every Purpose by Larry Hodgson, Walters Gardens, Inc,,

Call us for more peony tips and tricks: 780-467-3091!

Natural pest control: Cut Worms

Cutworms are a finite problem lasting 2 – 3 weeks in the early spring – just about the time you have planted your veggie garden seedlings and your seeds have erupted.  You generally don’t know you have them until you see wilted and dying seedlings in your garden that have been cut off near, at , or below soil level.  Here are some strategies to cope with them.

Who they are:

  • larvae from eggs that have overwintered, laid by a variety of adult moths on grass or other green plants/weeds in the garden or at the garden’s edge in the fall
  • they emerge hungry & ready to feed so they can reach their next enstar (stage of development), which is that of a pupae or cocoon
  • range in color from grey to brown & black, with or without spots
  • curl themselves up into a classic C shape when exposed from the soil
  • check out this Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Fact Sheet on identifying cutworms (note: this is not of natural pest control):

What they do:

  • live in top 2” of soil
  • like to feed at night or on cloudy days
  • some emerge from the soil, others feed just below soil level
  • feed on the stems of the young plants – thus cutting off the stem – hence the name, cutworm
  • feed by wrapping their bodies around the stem to grip on & eat

Getting rid of them:

It is possible to reduce the incidence of cutworms but it takes discipline

Here are a few ideas

  • Tilling in both the spring and fall to expose the cutworms
  • Placing collars around the base of the stems
  • Placing something (a nail, toothpick, straw) right beside the stem so the cut worm can’t wrap itself around the stem to dine
  • Natural pest control

Also,  check out the following links below:

1. The Old Farmer’s Almanc


2. Gardening Know How


3. Natural pesticide recipes

4. Montana Homesteader


5. Mother Earth News


6.  Canola Encyclopedia