The lily beetles are here.
If you find one of these in your garden, especially on your lilies, don't panic. Oh go on then, panic. The lily beetle is not native to the UK or the USA, so yes you've guessed it, no natural predators. The birds won't eat them, they squeak when attacked, yes they do. Would you tuck into your dinner if it squeaked as your fork approached the plate ?
I first noticed these beetles earlier this year in the summer, sorry I mean March. The lilies were only just poking through the soil, so the beetles didn't have much to eat. Needless to say, I disposed of them, but now they're back again. And love is in the air:
As you can see, they had been nibbling the lily leaves before they got amorous. If I had left them, the female would have laid her eggs on the underside of the lily leaves. The resultant larvae cover themselves in their own excrement, so that they look like bird droppings. But you don't find bird droppings underneath leaves, unless the birds in your garden think they are Red Arrow pilots and like to do aerobatics. Come to think of it, but that's another story.
So how do you control them? In parts of Europe, the beetle is kept under control by parasitic wasps, but in the UK only two species of these wasps have been discovered, and certainly not in sufficient numbers to have any effect. So at the moment, the solution is to pick them off the plants and destroy them. The adults are easy to see, although a little tough to squash, they have harder shells than vine weevils. Look under the leaves for larvae and eggs, and remove them also. And if all else fails, don't grow lilies or fritillarias.
On a happier note, the blue tits did manage to evict the bee from their nestbox. They are very discreetly coming in and out of the box. Looks like the eggs have been laid, but no activity yet to suggest any have hatched yet.
And the final April rainfall figures for Sheffield have just been announced. We had 177mm, that's just a smidgen under 7 inches in real money. Wonder what May will have in store for us.