Marianne CannonWhat’s eating my lilly pilly?

All down the east coast of Australia, gardeners with lilly pilly hedges have been noticing lots of chewed and damaged foliage. While it used to be pimple psyllid that most affected lilly pillies, causing those ugly pimply bumps all over the leaves followed by lots of sooty mould, there’s now a relatively new insect pest that’s doing as much, if not more, damage on Syzygium australe and its cultivars – a native green leaf-eating beetle called Paropsides calypso**.

Green leaf-eating beetle, Paropsides calypso, on lilly pilly

Green leaf-eating beetle, Paropsides calypso, on lilly pilly

An infestation of Paropsides calypso leaf-eating beetles can give a healthy, dense-foliaged lilly pilly a sparse, lacy thread-bare look in the space of just a few weeks.

I talk with Steve Falcioni of OCP about how to recognise Paropsides calypso beetle damage on your lilly pilly, about the beetle’s life cycle (both the larvae and the adult beetle eat lilly pilly leaves), and get some advice on how you could control it.

 

**Note that this leaf beetle been incorrectly identified elsewhere as Calomela pallida, the green strip leaf beetle.

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Marianne Cannon

About Marianne Cannon

Marianne Cannon has been broadcasting as Real World Gardener on radio 2RRR 88.5fm in Sydney, since September 2009, and the program is now syndicated to radio stations around Australia. It's about growing your own, the abc of plants, and how to create sustainable gardens to fit into today's environment. Not just a show about plants; it has a strong green and ecological bent, with co-presenters addressing issues such as native animals and plants, water conservation, composting, reducing waste, protecting native species and more.

15 thoughts on “What’s eating my lilly pilly?

  1. Leith on said:

    Excellent advice !
    Thank you 🙂

  2. thanks Leith,

    hope your can control your Green Leaf Beetle..

    regards
    Marianne

  3. Barry Burdon on said:

    I have 12 small (1-1.5m) lilly pilly as a hedge. 3 years ago all new growth was stripped off by something, I could not find any sign of beetles, grubs etc. The following season I sprayed (?), infestation damage minimal. Next season no action. Last year good new growth, then the monsters hit very hard and stripped most of the new foliage within a couple of weeks. the current damage of thread bare stems of 100 to 150 mm. A month ago I spotted a green ladybird beetle (1 only). The Falcioni description fits like a glove. It appears that the Paropsides calypso beetle has been in SA (Adelaide) for some time.

  4. Hello Barry,

    yes I suppose they do look like a green lady beetle. It doesn’t surprise me that they’ve been around for some time but perhaps not in so great a number.
    The popularity of planting lilly pilly hedges seem to have given the beetles more food to chew on.

    Glad to be of help.

    regards
    Marianne

  5. Paul on said:

    Seems like there is no known treatment that is effective to date 🙁

  6. Suzanne Murphy on said:

    We have had the same problem. It is the green strip beetle causing the damage. They come out at night to feast. They live and breed in the soil. Usually they die off in winter but because we only had a mild winter they are in the war path. We used Confidor spay on the hedge and put confidor tablets in the soil. Within 4 weeks we have new growth and it’s nearly back to normal. I have been taking progress photos and it’s amazing to look back at the damage they have done.

    • Hi Suzanne – as I need to keep this webpage accurate I will correct you here, it’s the green leaf-eating beetle Paropsides calypso that’s been eating your lilly pilly, not the green strip leaf beetle, which is Calomela pallida. It’s a common misidentification because so many people have called it that online before but important to get it right as they have different life cycles and habits.
      Confidor is not registered for controlling leaf-eating beetle and contains imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid poison implicated in bee colony collapse disorder. As many lilly pillies are flowering now, it’s a very dangerous time to be spraying this insecticide about.

  7. Further to Catherine’s reply, there is no chemical registered for control of Paropsides calypso and because of that we cannot recommend anything.
    However, as the larvae and adult green leaf-eating beetle are chewing insects you may wish to try an organic alternative.
    Neem Oil has been proven to control and is registered for, various chewing insects although not this one.
    As yet there have been no trials carried out to test the effectiveness of Neem Oil on thr green leaf-eating beetle.

    • Suzanne Murphy on said:

      Hi I understand your concerns and we have investigated Neem Oil. We decided on our treatment and it has worked. We have been growing this hedge for 15 years and we were devistated when we were slowly loosing 8 meters of our glorious hedge. I believe they only attack one variety, The Australis.

      • Thank you for the feedback Suzanne. It’s very helpful

  8. Christine on said:

    I live in the Lake Macquarie area and this is the first year I have had this pest I’m my garden. One plus has been that I haven’t needed to clip my hedge since winter as these bugs have done it for me.

  9. Dennis Crowley on said:

    Thanks for the information on this pages it has helped to identify the culprit in my Lilly pillys. I am located on the Mornington Peninsula south of Melbourne Victoria. Now how to eradicate them?

  10. Hello Dennis,

    a couple of previous posts allude to Neem Oil.
    Not being registered as a control for this beetle I am not permitted to recommend it.
    However Suzanne has mentioned it her post above, that’s it worked for her.

  11. Barry Burdon on said:

    I have sprayed with Pyrethrum (Defender) at the end of November, beginning of the year and mid February, the time when most damage occurred previously.
    To date it has been most successful. At present there is no real damage, a few leaves (less than 1%) with a few nibbles, but none anywhere being stripped back to the stem as has occurred previously.
    I will give another spray in about 2 weeks time.

    • Thanks Barry for providing that information. Pyrethrum not being registered for use on Green Leaf Beetle, I’m not permitted to recommend its use.

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