By Victoria Plum
My orange Fritillaria imperialis always seems to be hard struck by lily beetle, though I suspect some leaf damage is slug or snail-related.
Despite foliage damage the flowers were superb. The distinctive smell seems to attract a variety of insects (flies in particular) to the entire plant, not just to the flowers. My yellow one had no flowers this year: I suspect LB damage under or at ground level.
My Lilium pyrenaicum (pictured) usually suffers from LB, but being a “good doer” seems to struggle through and flower just the same. This year there is no sign of damage, despite being only a few feet from the Fritillaria.
I wonder now whether it is the weather that makes the difference. While the pupating LB stage likes to be moist, under ground level the adult beetle (a native of warmer climes, not Britain, so is an “incomer” as we call those “from away” round here; in Cornwall they call them “blow-ins”, a useful term for invasive insects) seems to like warmth and sun.
So if the weather is hot and still, as it was when the Fritillaria flowered, this encourages the beetle activity, but the cooler weather (as we had in early May) seems to inhibit the hatch, so none to be seen on the L. pyrenaicum yet.
I was so impressed by a friend’s lovely pots of lilies that I allowed myself to be seduced by the catalogue pictures and now have pots of various lilies in front and back gardens.
Will they survive the onslaught of LB when it comes, as come it will? My only remedy is to frequently check the plants (crushing beetles between fingernails) and it is this constant vigilance that has led me to my observations regarding weather conditions.
I have placed the new lilies by doors and paths in frequent use and so, as an optimistic gardener, I hope to beat the beetle damage by strategy, though of course I know I can never eradicate them.
P.S. Has anyone actually seen any bats use the new “bat corridor” bridges over the new NDR or even over the old ones on the A11 at Elveden?