Paropsides calypso and lilly pillies

Almost 12 months on and I have an update on the beetles which are eating our lilly pilly plants. At the time of writing my previous post on this topic, I had thought maybe my hunting had had an impact on the beetle population because throughout January and February I only caught a couple of beetles and larvae.  I continued to fertilise the plants throughout this year, both with Seasol and a separate slow release fertiliser, and they started to thicken, particularly throughout April – May during autumn.

Now, with Melbourne in the middle of spring there is plenty of new growth on the trees and I was excited to think they would finally start to thicken. But then the new growth started to thin, and leaves were being eaten. The paropsides calyspo beetles had returned.

Paropsides calypso activity

 

It seems my efforts last year were not successful, and instead of being eradicated the beetles just weren’t active.  I suspect they laid eggs at the end of summer, and the eggs laid dormant until conditions were right for them to hatch and flourish.  It does, however, feel like I’ve had some success in the past few weeks which is why I’m writing this post to share my findings.

Last year when I was catching beetles, and now this year catching their larvae, I kept a count of the numbers I was seeing. Granted my activity would have impacted the overall population size, but I believe this gives a good indication of when they’re active. As you can see in the chart above, October in Melbourne seems to be the prime time for the larvae to hatch and move throughout the plant as they grow and develop into beetles.  One week in the middle of October I caught 180 larvae! Then throughout the rest of spring and then summer the beetles dominate. Last year the most I caught was 50 at the end of December. In January summer really kicks in, so perhaps the weather starts to become too hot for them and they cease to be active.  It is worth keeping these time frames in mind when trying to deal with this pest, as late September or early October is probably the best time to start treating the plant with pesticide.

Based on a comment by Ben on my previous post, a two weeks ago I sprayed our plants with a combination of eco-neem and eco-oil.  These work by suppressing the insect’s urge to eat so they effectively starve to death. Eco-neem apparently works on the beetles, while eco-oil is more effective on caterpillars. I found these in the pest control section of Bunnings, and expect they would also be easy to find at any nursery.  Having applied two coats, I’ve only seen 3-4 larvae and beetles since. Given the number of larvae I squashed, I think that will have had an impact on their numbers as well, but I’m hopeful this treatment will help to put an end to their reign over my plants. I’m going to continue this for the next few weeks with a combination of regular fertilising and hopefully by the end of spring the plants are happy and healthy.

Eco-neem and eco-oil which appear to be effective at controlling paropsides calypso

To help you locate these pests on your own plants, here are some things to keep in mind:

Larvae

  • Larvae are pretty small, ranging from 1mm in length up to 1cm.
  • They’re normally light green, but as they mature they take on a redish tinge
  • They’re often found at the end of branches chewing on fresh growth (in particular the fine red growth)
  • You might also find them crawling along branches

Beetles

  • The beetles are similar in size to a ladybird (7-8mm long and 3-4mm wide)
  • They’re bright green in colour
  • They are less likely to be contained to fresh growth, and quite happily chew through older leaves
  • They’re often on the underside of leaves and less like to be on branches as they can fly from leaf to leaf
  • Shaking branches can cause them to fall or fly out making it easier to find them and catch when they land

Here are a few photos so you can get an idea of what the beetles and larvae look like, as well as an indication of their size.

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Toby
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Toby

Hi Derek, we have the little sods on our Orange Twist (similar to the lilly pilly). This is our second season with them attacking our shrubs. I have tried several Yates products but I haven’t found anything yet that kills them off completely. You are correct they nick off or take refuge in the winter months and come out in the warmer months – like now. I will try what you are doing and do a beetle hunt in the mornings. We have also noticed that there is also a grub we assume this is part of their larvae process.… Read more »

Toby
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Toby

Sorry meant to mention that we live in Adelaide so the are not limited the Eastern Sea Board

Angela
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Angela

Hi Derek, just came across your page, how are your lillypillys this year after the eco neem and eco oil combined spray. We’ve discovered black soft scale and this green beetle on our 14 lillypilly hedge which I was told by nursery it’s called Calypso Beetle and it only seems to attack lillypillys and nothing out there to rid of the beetle, It’s eating our leaves as well.. how much eco need and oil combined did you use please? We’ve sprayed confidor to rid of the scale.

alison guida
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alison guida

Hi Derek, I have had a terrible infestation of my 41 lilly pilly hedge. I was advised by the local nursery to try extra feeding and watering which I did without much effect. This year I have seen a few of the larvae but at this stage only 1 mature beatle. I have sprayed with eco neem but note that you use the eco neem and eco oil together which I will also do next spray. I also note that you had been doing this weekly?? Is there anything that can be done to kill off the eggs/larvae on the… Read more »

Kerri Gallagher
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Kerri Gallagher

After 3 years of spending all my spare time tracking down and squashing thousands of beetles, larvae and eggs, I am reluctantly admitting defeat. The Lilly Pillies (11 in total spread throughout a large garden of mainly native plants) are getting the chop, Sadly I have no idea what I will replace them with, as at the time of planting they ticked all the boxes. Any suggestions welcome

Carolyn
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Carolyn

Kerri, I have heard that Confidor is effective, although not really friendly to bees. With the onset of hot weather I am today noticing a marked increase in beetles and grubs and am coming to the same conclusion as you – I can beat them by hand!

Nat
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Nat

I went away for a week to find my “resilience” Lilly pilly munched all over (all that precious new growth) upon return. No sign of beetle on the weeping or high n mighty types though. I picked a lot of the beetles and grubs off but eco neemed them weekly pre dawn for 3 weeks and now they are covered with new growth and no sign of bad bugs! They still have a good mix of good bugs. While it might not be certified to work it certainly worked for me. A bit of blood and bone and they are… Read more »