Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Attack of the alien invaders - Japanese Lily Beetle

We had our first blast of summer heat today - 32 degrees celcius (39 with humidex).  Fortunately it is  much cooler here on the shoreline of Lake Ontario.  The tulips have come to the end of their bloom, having been battered by a deluge on Sunday night and now frying in the heat of the day, so I went out after dinner with a bucket and scissors to deadhead and take stock.  Whilst crouching down amongst the burgeoning foliage I was distressed to find something other than the usual detritus of human life that I seem to find intermittently scattered in the garden as a result of living on a main street (abandoned cell phones, car keys and sundry articles of clothing, not warranting further comment).  I have my first infestation of Japanese Lily Beetle!

In my efforts to ensure I had something spectacular in bloom all summer long last year (a result of my anxiety at not knowing when the Master Gardeners of the local horticultural society would turn up to judge my efforts, after some kindly citizen anonymously nominated me for a prize Etobicoke & Toronto West Great Gardens Contest) I popped in a variety of lilies, bought in near full bloom, to fill in a few gaps.  Now, they are growing back with great vigour, but are under attack from what might otherwise be considered a rather beautiful insect.  The Japanese Lily Beetle appears to have arrived in the North East US about 15 years ago, and in the absence of any natural predators, has gone on to successfully colonize large swathes of the US and Canada, and now Mimico!  I had my first encounter with them on a visit to the Toronto Botanical Garden last summer, where the lilies were completely denuded and looked like bejewelled sceptres, absolutely enrusted with ruby-red beetles.  Utter devastation!

So, from now on, I will need to make regular inspections and see if handpicking the little blighters will be enough to keep them under control.  If anyone has any good tips on controlling them, please let me know!!

PS - in case I haven't already tooted my trumpet on last year's Great Garden competition, I was first prize winner in the "alternative category" (how apt) for Ward 6.  Unsolicited compliments much appreciated ;)

Here are some photos of how things look on the last day of May.

Tulips are over - what will be next to make a splash?

In the backyard, there are still a few tulips that look like they'll hold out for a few more days

On an impulse, I bought 2 standard gardenias to adorn the deck this year...they should like Toronto's hot and humid summer weather, and I can't wait to smell their perfume

My Chinese Tree Peony is starting to open - the flower petals look like the wings of a swan

I'm expecting a burst of crisp white from this clematis in a few days

Greg's Grandmother sent him home from a visit with a bunch of seedlings from her garden - she's 87 and still gardening and travelling intrepidly.  Lupins, cardinal flower, lungwort, bachelor buttons and costmary were amongst those I could identify.  The others will need to flower before I'll recognize them.

Japanese Lily Beetles are not the only troublesome pests in the garden at the moment.  The squirrels love digging in my newly planted containers.  A dose of blood meal will discourage them.

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