Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wanted: Bugs

Karla Salp
Pest Program Outreach Coordinator

wanted poster for lily leaf beetle
Believe it or not, the Department of Agriculture is ready to take live bugs off of your hands…or yard.

Of course, it’s not just any bug that WSDA is looking for. They are in need of live specimens of the Lily Leaf Beetle, will be found for the next few weeks, primarily on lilies.

Gathering these bright red insects is part of a biological control project that WSDA’s pest program hopes to launch this spring. WSDA held public meetings in Bellevue last week to tell community members about the new pest and their plans to respond to the introduction.

The lily leaf beetle consumes both the leaves and blossoms of lilies and fritillaries. It is a threat to both home gardens and commercial lily growers. The bug was first found by an alert gardener in Bellevue and sightings of the beetle have now been confirmed throughout the greater Seattle area.

Unfortunately, eradicating this particular pest is not possible.

The good news, however, is that a biological control has proven effective in other areas where the Lily Leaf Beetle has become established, such as the East Coast. WSDA’s project involves the release of tiny wasps that predate only on the Lily Leaf Beetle; there are no other insects in the Pacific Northwest which the wasp targets.

To improve the likelihood of establishing the wasp in Washington, WSDA needs to ensure there are sufficient Lily Leaf Beetles in areas where the wasps will be released.

WSDA asks gardeners who see the beetle in their yards to report them. WSDA will collect the beetles from gardeners upon request.

You can take pictures of and report Lily Leaf Beetle sightings on WSDA’s website. When reporting your sighting, leave a note in the comments section of the form if you would like WSDA to collect the beetles.