In the Garden

Last year I reported that the crimson lily beetle had been discovered in our area. It showed up in Bellevue and has been discovered at several outlying areas since then. It’s only a matter of time before it raises havoc in gardens all over.

This ferocious pest looks like a small red ladybug with no spots, but it’s anything but beneficial. Each adult can lay up to 450 eggs. The larvae hatch almost all at once and immediately begin to devour leaves, buds and flowers at a record rate.

If you see damage on your lilies (they also attack hollyhock, hosta, potatoes, fritillarias and lily of the valley) look for the presence of bright-red adults, red or brown egg masses or larvae covered with a soft, brown gooey substance.

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El kabatski pest control (squishing) doesn’t work well to control this menace, and many of the chemical insecticides recommended may be hazardous to humans, pets, beneficial insects and the environment.

According to my research, the least toxic products that have been found to effectively control this pest contain azadirachtin, a natural insect repellent and growth regulator extracted from the seed of the neem tree.

Note that the organic pesticide neem oil is not the same substance and used alone has not been found to be as effective. A number of pest-control products contain azadirachtin, including Safer’s Bioneem, which contains both azadiractin and neem oil. Ask for a product containing azadiractin at your local nursery.

Plant Daphnis without fear

It’s hard to resist Aegopodium podagraria ‘Variegatum’ (bishop’s weed). This member of the carrot family features attractive bluish-green leaves edged in creamy white. It livens up the darkest shade and, in summer, produces umbel flowers that resemble those of Queen Anne’s lace.

Unfortunately, Aegopodium is a monster in disguise, and if you plant it where it isn’t totally confined, it will quickly take over your entire garden and become a hated, impossible-to-eradicate weed.

Now you can have the same look with a different but much-better-behaved perennial. Peucedanum ostruthium ‘Daphnis’ (variegated peuce masterwort) is a newly introduced beauty from France. Although at first glance it looks quite similar to Aegopodium, it’s actually more attractive.

The gray-green variegated foliage emerges edged in gold before turning creamy white in summer, and the entire plant has a more refined, elegant look. The lacy flowers on Peucedanum are fragrant and larger than those on Aegopodium; plus they make great long-lasting additions in bouquets.

Unlike Aegopodium, which thrives in dry shade, Peucedanum does best in morning sun or bright shade and rich, moist soil. The only problem with this lovely plant is that you’ll need to put a big sign next to it that states: “I’m not a dim-dim: This is NOT Aegopodium!”

Ciscoe Morris: “Gardening With Ciscoe” airs at 10 a.m. Saturdays on KING-TV.