There is so much to like about lilies. They are bold and beautiful, courtesy of their black-speckled flowers, and come in various shades such as salmon, red, yellow, and orange.
The stems carry multiple flowers and can grow up to 5 feet. Despite their aesthetic aura, the elegant flowers are not immune to destructive pests in the garden.
This article sheds more light on what animals eat lilies to help you get rid of them in your garden.
What Animals Are Eating My Lily Flowers And Leaves?
A hard fact to accept is some animals have a penchant for nibbling on the flowers and leaves of the lily plant. If this has been happening in your yard, you must be curious to know who the culprits are and how to contain them.
Luckily, we have uncovered that for you. Check the list below to find out if you have seen such animals in your garden or spotted their trails.
- Lily Bettles
- Household Pets
Let’s get down further to the finer details.
1. Lily Beetles (Lilioceris Lilli)
Lily beetles like your lily plant for the pollen, nectar, and anything else they will find palatable. Though small, they move in large numbers and can substantially defoliate or reduce your plants to shreds.
Their bright red color makes it easy for you to spot them against a green leafy background. This is the first step in eliminating them.
Interestingly, the emergence of adult beetles in spring typically coincides with the emergence of lilies. After mating, the adults lay up to 400 eggs in a season underneath the plant foliage.
When the eggs hatch, the orange larvae begin feeding on the leaves, hiding in their black excrement from other predators.
The larvae eventually mature into adults and keep feeding on the plants. As the life cycle of the beetles carries on, you now have an army of both the larvae and adult lily beetles entirely defoliating your lily plants.
- Scout for emerging adults in spring and eliminate them before they begin egg-laying. To accomplish this, shake the beetles into a bucket of soapy water and dispose of them.
- Pick and squeeze the poop-covered larvae. You can wear hand gloves for this exercise.
- Prune the infected plant leaves.
2. Household Pets
If you think your dogs are protecting your elegant lilies from other pests in the garden, think again. They are themselves guilty of consuming your plants.
Cats also add to the list of pets in your home that can feed on your lily plant.
However, unlike dogs, cats are susceptible to poisoning from plants in the Lilium family. For instance, the leaves of Tiger Lily cause liver problems in cats. Common symptoms of lily leaf poisoning in cats include vomiting.
Seek the services of a nearby vet in the event of plant poisoning in cats.
- Sprinkle spices such as chilly powder and cayenne pepper onto the soil or your lily plant to deter your pets. The chilly powder will not harm your plant.
- You can also spray a mixture of cayenne paper powder and water on your plants.
- Lay some gravel on the soil around your plants. Gravel is generally uncomfortable for an animal with paws.
Another animal that loves your lily because of its pollen is the rabbit. They find the lily bulbs particularly tasty— younger ones like feeding on the nectar.
As efficient foragers, rabbits will look for food and carry back twigs or grass to continue nibbling. Your plants could already be victims of their aggressive eating habits.
If you don’t rear rabbits, you can detect their presence by watching for their tracks and droppings. They have four toes, with the rear two and a half times longer than the front set.
Their droppings look like brown balls measuring ⅜ inches in diameter.
- Ring fence your flower or plant garden with a 1-inch mesh chicken wire fence. The fence must go 6 inches under and 2 feet above the ground for the best results. You should ensure the underground portion of the fence bends outward at a 90-degree angle.
- Sprinkle blood meal on the soil around your lilies. The smell will make the rabbits stay away.
- Block spaces between sheds or decks where rabbits are most likely to find shelter in your garden.
- Clean and keep your garden tidy by removing low branches on trees and shrubs and cutting off long grass.
Lilies and slugs seem to have a thing, and you shouldn’t be surprised by the latter’s presence in your garden. The lily leaves contain a glycoside chemical that makes it easy for slugs to detect them.
Scientific sources allude to slugs having a genetic disposition that makes it easy for them to feed on lilies.
However, you can tackle them before they start munching your plants using the control measures below.
- Sprinkle diatomaceous earth on the soil around your lily plants for natural protection from slugs and snails. Diatomaceous earth also contains silicate that helps improve soil fertility and aids in the growth of your garden plants.
Lilies are among the flowers that bloom year-round, making chipmunks want to relish their taste often.
The animal will gladly feed on the seeds and bulbs, earning the name “lily-eaters.”
- Use motion lights to deter the chipmunks that visit your yard at night.
- Surround your plant with chicken wire.
- Plant your lilies with Daffodils which repel most mammals.
- Sprinkle spices on the soil around your garden.
Gophers love to eat roots, tubers, barks, and fallen fruits of most garden plants. They are typically active after dawn and before dusk.
If you have them in your garden, you know that they create extensive tunnels and create multiple exits at the soil surface. Gophers are attracted to lilies because of their bright flowers that usually bloom from mid-summer to fall.
They will also consume and destroy other plants in their wake.
- Use ultrasonic sound emitters that emit loud noises consistently.
- Place CDs and tin foils around your lily plants to keep the gophers away. These materials reflect light and keep these troublesome animals away.
- Spray your plants with garlic spray.
- Use commercial repellents.
Moles feed on bulbs and tubers and find lilies a delectable meal to ease their hunger pangs. These animals are particularly attracted because of the essential vitamins that the lilies pack.
However, moles are omnivorous and also feed on beetles, snails, slugs, earthworms, and mice. As such, there are information inconsistencies in whether moles eat lily bulbs or only create tunnels and space for other rodents to feed on the bulbs.
Either way, you want to protect your lilies against them.
- Plant lilies in raised beds, and place ½ inch wire mesh at the bottom of the bed before filling it with soil. Lay another layer at the top soil or after laying mulch. Lilies will not be obstructed from growing through the mesh.
- Get rid of insects in your yard the moles prey on. An excellent example is grubs. Encourage natural predators that feed on grubs such as birds by adding a feeder or bird bath in your yard.
- Place your lily bulbs in cages or wire baskets to protect them from moles before planting them. Fill the cage with 1-2 inches of soil. Arrange the bulbs inside the cage with their pointed parts facing up and cover the remaining space with soil. Plant them 6-8 inches deep in the seed bed.
8. Voles/ Field Mice
Voles and moles are similar creatures, and the two could appear confusing to a novice gardener. However, ground moles are larger than the voles and have bigger front paws.
Voles are almost the size of a large mouse with a short neck, a large wedge-shaped head, and enormous shoulders. These body features are helpful for the voles to thrust through the soil in search of food.
Voles are vegetarians feeding on bulbs and tubers of garden plants such as the lilies. They also eat lily flowers.
Sometimes voles will eat the lily plant or carry it away to eat it up later.
- Get rid of their food sources in the garden.
- Eliminate vole habitation in your garden or their hiding places.
- Use barriers such as chicken wire mesh to protect your garden. The wire mesh should preferably be 10 inches below ground and 10 inches above the ground.
- Rid them off with a commercial mole and vole repellent. Sprinkle the granules of the repellent around your lily garden. It produces an odor that makes the voles keep off. Avoid applying the granules during the rainfall season since their potency gets depleted.
- Plant castor oil plants around your garden. They are poisonous to voles.
- Use a DIY wooden mouse trap— place it on their path in the grass, and cover it with a 5-gallon bucket.
The deer is yet another animal that feeds on lilies. Your lilies are more susceptible, especially if you plant them along the borders, given their beauty and low maintenance costs.
Some deer species love the petals and the nectar found in the lily flowers. The white-tailored deer is particularly fond of the plant.
- Plant deer repellent plants like the Japanese Silver Grass.
- Use commercial deer repellent from garden centers.
- Use bar soaps with a strong fragrance and strategically tie them on your lily plants at the deer’s nose height.
- Build a fence around your garden, keeping it at 8 feet tall.
Squirrels eat the nectar and seeds of the lily plant flower, earning them the name “flower people.”
Given their omnivorous nature, squirrels also feed on insects. However, they won’t shy away from feeding on lilies if there is no other food source available.
- Sprinkle spices like chili flakes and pepper on the lily leaves or soil around to deter the squirrels.
- Use commercial repellents from a trusted dealer.
- Use chicken wire around your lily plants.
- Plant squirrel repellent plants such as Hyacinth, Geraniums, Alliums, Galanthus, and Daffodils.
The opossum is a North American marsupial mammal capable of climbing trees, and its population has been growing exponentially in urban areas. Luckily for them, lilies are constantly growing close to their dens and thus an easy target.
Opossums feed on both the leaves and flowers of your lily plant.
- Surround your lilies with chicken wire.
- Sprinkle spices around your lily plants.
- Plant strong scented plants like allium and basil.
We hope you now have a fair idea of what animals are feasting on your precious lilies.
Watching your lilies getting decimated can be pretty discouraging, especially if you are starting on your gardening journey.
However, you are better placed to deter the pests through some of the recommended solutions.
Every control method mentioned is tailored according to the animal you’re dealing with in the garden.
We hope you will have bountiful produce the next time around. Cheers!
Job Kiniale is a certified crop scientist and gardening enthusiast with a passion to help beginning gardeners navigate their newfound hobby. Let’s talk about plants, backyard ideas, and general gardening advice. Outside work, Job loves spending time with family.