Mosquitoes have hands-down won the Pest du Jour honour for this summer, jour après jour après jour.
There are two other pests we need to be mindful of though.
The red lily beetle has been wreaking havoc in gardens throughout the city. Its effects are heartbreaking — whole patches of lilies have disappeared, lilies that had been in families for generations have disappeared. However, lilies have been saved and the battle is far from over.
These little monsters are quite attractive and could easily mislead you into thinking anything so bright bold and beautiful had to be good. Fortunately, we knew better.
Two obvious signs of problems are chewed up lily leaves and the red beetle itself. As well the eggs, which are yellow-orange, are laid in irregular rows on the undersides of the leaves. The pupae, which are covered in their own black gooey feces, will be found on both sides of the leaves.
Hand-pick and immediately destroy all three forms. Contact insecticides can also be used.
As well, early in the spring, stir up the soil around your lilies, and catch any emerging adults that may have overwintered there.
On the downside, persistence is absolutely necessary. On the upside, there is currently research into the possibility of using a parasitic wasp as a biological control agent. For more information, and to contribute to lily beetle tracking, check out:
The emerald ash borer has yet to arrive to unleash its fury. And fury it will be. Barely a tree has been left standing in areas that have been hit. Young, old, healthy, weakened and decrepit, they all fall prey. Yikes.
So what can we do?
The EAB is spread by human activities such as moving firewood. When you come home from the lake or campsite, don’t bring any firewood with you. No matter what price you paid, or how much you could use it in your fire pit in the city. Don’t transport firewood.
Get to know which trees are ash trees, as EAB are specific to ash trees (Fraxinus spp.).
Check your trees for signs of trouble. These include: crown dieback, sprouting of branches on the main stem, heavy woodpecker damage, D-shaped exit holes in the bark, and the beetles themselves, which are metallic green and about half an inch long.
To help monitor for EAB, check out: savetheelms.mb.ca
Carla Keast has a master’s degree in landscape architecture and is a Winnipeg-based freelance landscape designer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org