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What’s eating my lilly pilly?

Marianne Cannon

Marianne Cannon

July 22, 2016

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.

Larvae of the green leaf-eating beetle that eats lilly pilly leaves

 

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
4 years ago

thanks Leith,

hope your can control your Green Leaf Beetle..

regards
Marianne

Paul
Paul
4 years ago

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

Kevin @ Mantis Garden Magic
Kevin @ Mantis Garden Magic
3 years ago

Use Bifenthrin sprayed on the ground around the affected trees. I use Zeus but there are many products. The beetle and larvae feed at night, so foliar spraying during the day is not very efficient although I do use both Zeus for the ground and Eco-oil on the foliage on my own Lilly Pilly hedge and some customers whose gardens I maintain, with great results.
Cheers,
Kev
Mantis Garden Magic

Janelle
Janelle
2 years ago

Hi Kevin,
I’m going to try your method of spraying the ground around my hedge. The trees are mulched with hay. Should we remove the hay mulch before spaying the ground? I’m worried if we do remove it then replace after, some lavae and beetles may be in the mulch?

Thanks
Janelle

Leith
Leith
4 years ago

Excellent advice !
Thank you 🙂

Marianne Cannon
4 years ago

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

Suzanne Murphy
Suzanne Murphy
4 years ago

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.

Catherine Stewart
Admin
4 years ago
Reply to  Suzanne Murphy

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.

Marianne Cannon
4 years ago

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
Suzanne Murphy
4 years ago

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.

Marianne Cannon
4 years ago
Reply to  Suzanne Murphy

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

Christine
Christine
4 years ago

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.

Dennis Crowley
Dennis Crowley
4 years ago

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?

Marianne Cannon
4 years ago

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.

Barry Burdon
Barry Burdon
4 years ago

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.

Marianne Cannon
4 years ago
Reply to  Barry Burdon

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

Julie crothers
Julie crothers
11 months ago
Reply to  Barry Burdon

We live in lysterfield Victoria & We have sprayed countless bottles of pyrethrum & still they remain. Just when our hedge was looking thick & lush. We will give anything a go to save it. Or failing everything we thought of cutting it all right back or taking the plants out. Yesterday I found them on my leucadendrons. Yikes. Can’t have them deciding other plants are yummy too. We need a fix & quickly.

R P
R P
3 years ago

Also in the Lake Macquarie region (similar to one of the comments above) and had a Lilly Pilly hedge devastated by Paropsides calypso. I could spot plenty of the grubs still on the bush throughout the day and even some of the beetles in the morning.
After trying different things spraying the bushes with a strong mix of Confidor / Imidacloprid (ie the same concentration as used for Hibiscus flower beetle) appears to have quickly killed all of the grubs & beetles and I am again getting new growth.

David Humphreys
David Humphreys
3 years ago

I live in Cranbourne, south east of Melbourne and planted several Lilly Pillys less than two years ago. They were growing great, up to almost two metres, then I noticed severe die back on the very top of one, I thought maybe it was the frost but looking closer I saw all the leaves were chewed on the edges. I now have all the Lilly Pillys and a couple of other shrubs, badly affected, I may lose a couple of them. I have sprayed with lime sulphur, I may try white oil, if that doesn’t work.My Photinia Robusta and Pittosporum are not affected.

Real World Gardener
3 years ago

Hello David,

lime sulphur and white oil have no proven record of affecting the green leaf beetle. At this time there is no registered product to control this beetle.
However, 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.

Reply ↓

Suzanne Murphy
Suzanne Murphy
3 years ago

Hi David We actually didn’t use Neem Oil. We decided on Confidor spray and confidor pellets in the soil. It literally grew back before our very eyes. We now have our hedge lush, green, with new growth and very healthy. Hope this helps.

Catherine Stewart
Admin
3 years ago
Reply to  Suzanne Murphy

Unfortunately, that product contains imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid pesticide found in much scientific research (published in reputable, peer-reviewed journals) to be associated with declines in honey bee colonies world-wide. The research is contested by the companies that manufacture it, but it has been enough to have it currently banned in the EU and many US states, although not in Australia. There’s more info here on GardenDrum: https://gardendrum.com/?s=imidacloprid&submit=Search

Rhonda.
Rhonda.
3 years ago

Thanks. My new lilly pilly hedge is being attacked and I knew it was coming out at night but couldn’t find it. Now I know. I even caught one of the beetles this morning.

Jillean Letherbarrow
Jillean Letherbarrow
3 years ago

I sprayed my affected lilly pilly today with Searls Trifend as I could not find what was devouring the leaves and found several small green beetles.that had dropped to the deck,. I am hoping this will rid them of the infestation.

Catherine Stewart
Admin
3 years ago

Hi Jillean, Searles Trifend isn’t registered for control of lilly pilly beetle. It is a product containing tau-fluvalinate (a synthetic contact pyrethroid that kills mites and sap-sucking pests like aphids) and myclobutanil which is a fungicide. I can’t find any evidence that it has any effect on beetles.

Annette
Annette
3 years ago

Is companion planting any help with this problem of the green beetle?

Chris
Chris
1 year ago
Reply to  Annette

Hi. Have tried all sprays with limited success. 26 plants fence high. Currently September in Geelong. The beetles are dying off only catch a few now. I cannot understand the cycle as now, there are recently hatched very minute larva ( half a mm) which cannot possibly crawl up to the top green leaves. I suggest they must also have eggs laid back on the inner top older leaves. Have placed some diotomaceous earth at base. They all live under the leaf which is hard to spray and catch them. No real answer !!! Chris

Marianne Cannon
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris

Hello Chris,

it’s the mature larvae that crawl down to the ground and pupate in the soil.
They then emerge as beetles to attack the leaves of your lilly pillyand as well as laying eggs.
Neem oil has been effective for some gardeners in controlling the beetle, however, they seem to do the most damage at night.
Using one of those pump sprayers should help with getting the chemical under the leaves.

Marianne

Olivia Dwyer
Olivia Dwyer
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris

January 15th 2021 I live in Ocean Grove and now have this problem with 31 trees in a hedge. I sprayed them last night with Eco neem with a little white oil added and this morning there are live grubs and beetles visible. How did you go in the two years since your post.

Catherine
Catherine
3 years ago

Finally discovered the nasty little green beetle this afternoon! It’s causing havoc on my Lilly pillys! They look awful! Nursery suggested spraying with Carbaryl….but haven’t done it yet as I’m worried this might harm bees? Does anybody have any advice or suggestions? Thanks!

Catherine Stewart
Admin
3 years ago
Reply to  Catherine

Carbaryl is not registered for control of lilly pilly leaf-eating beetles. It also has a significant environmental impact (including on bees), leading many companies such as Yates to no longer make or sell it. Another insecticide product called Confidor which has been recommended elsewhere for control of this beetle contains imidacloprid which is implicated in decline of bee populations throughout the world. As many lilly pillies are flowering now, spraying any insecticide will harm bees. You can consider spraying with neem oil mixed with horticultural oil, as is suggested by Eco Organic Garden.

Boris
Boris
3 years ago

Same little green bug here on Mornington Peninsula. Devastating the new Lilly pillies. Spent so much time trying to find psyllid resistance variety and now have this problem.
We tried Multicrop 3L EcoPest Oil – that appears to have worked for 4 weeks but they starting come back now as neighbour has same Lilly Pilly bug and doesn’t act. $40 per month of product is likely during the spring-autumn period when this green beetle is active.

Marianne Cannon
3 years ago

Hello Boris,
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 the green leaf-eating beetle. A post from 2016, has said that Neem Oil has eradicated the pest problem on their Lilly Pilly hedge.

Olivia Dwyer
Olivia Dwyer
1 year ago

How often should I spray my hedge of 31 Lilly Pilly trees with Neem . I sprayed them last night and healthy looking grubs and beetles are still there today. (I was hoping for a miracle) My local nursery suggest a little white oil be added to make the spray oily so it might stick better. Also on the bottle it is quite hard to actually work out how much Neem. Can you advice please. Many thanks

Carolyn Dean
Carolyn Dean
2 years ago

Hi there, after trying the Neem option and a home made concoction of onion, garlic, chilli and soap powder I am back to hand harvesting these little pests. I have a few of questions.
Firstly, I find many tiny whitish eggs under a mm long throughout the leaves of all of my Lilly Phillies either singly or sometimes in multiples of 2 or 3. Iit looks to me that these are laid by the beetles and develop into the grubs, the next stage being a creamy coloured tiny grub with a blackish head, which then develops into the bigger shiny grub. My question is has anyone else seen these little eggs and knows if they are laid by the beetle?

Second question is, if my first hypothesis is right then aren’t the mature grubs going down into the soil to mature into beetles who then emerge back up into the tree as opposed to the grubs coming up from the soil as I’ve seen in a diagram on another site?

My third question is, it sounds like something in the soil is working for a number of people but has anyone tried anything less harmful such as a collar of some sort around the base of the tree that inhibits both upward and downward travel? I was thinking of trying flypaper or a fabric drenched with something and cone shaped so that it extends out to a distance around the base to foil the beetles if they fly upwards.

Marianne Cannon
2 years ago

Dear Carolyn,
the larvae you describe doesn’t sound like Paropsides calypso ( native leaf eating beetle as per this article) because these are pale green and glossy, about 2 cm long with a similar shape to curl grubs.
There is no information available regarding the colour of their eggs, however, Paropsides calypso does pupate in the soil as mentioned in the audio. The beetle itself is green coloured, 9 mm long and similar in shape but larger than a ladybeetle .

regards
Marianne

Nikki
Nikki
2 years ago

We have the backyard bliss variety and they devastated 20 mature plants. I literally hand squashed over 1500 beetles at twilight (as this seems to be the preferred time). I checked every leaf. They are quite fast if not caught immediately and burrow back in the ground to escape. I made this into a Game with my kids and it took about 3 weeks to get rid of them. You have to be on this every day to reduce the numbers. Did thus until there were no more signs of beetles
After that I sprayed with eco Neen in the leaves and soil. I’m keeping on top of it with regular neem treatment every few months.
If I have to hand squash again – I will. I’m always looking for them.

Nikki
Nikki
2 years ago

PS. These bugs fly

Justin
Justin
1 year ago

i do lawnmowing and garden maintenance for a living and i can tell you put confidor tablets in the soil about 100mm away from plant base and spray entire shrub with confidor and the next morning you will see hundred of these green ladybugs dead on the ground

Ann Palmer
Ann Palmer
3 months ago
Reply to  Justin

very ignorant person justin. you shouldn’t be doing garden maintenance if you only use poisons to get results. Please join the 20th century instead of being in the dark ages. The environment is collapsing due to people like you.

Marianne Cannon
1 year ago

Hello Justin,

thanks for that information, however ,unless a product is registered for that pest, we canagain

Marianne

Deane Clayton
Deane Clayton
1 year ago

Hello all,
Thanks to this site “Garden Drum” I found the culprit “Paropsides calypso”. Had been out at night with a torch and mistakenly thought the assassin bug was the cause, as there were quite a few…googled it and realised it was a carnivore and therefore no doubt an ally in this case!
I don’t use chemicals (except Weed and Feed on my lawns), I have pruned heavily, on top especially, to open the canopy, and then hosed the Lilly Pilly hedges that are lining the concrete driveway and stomped on the beetles and larvae that drop off. Amazing the range of insects that come off with the spray…
Interestingly I have 3 Bantum Chickens that work an area under a long section of Lilly Pillies in the back yard…no damage to the foliage of these plants!!!! As soon as the chooks run stops, the plants beyond are getting smashed.
Once Ive pruned all the hedges I will Eco-Neem and see if that knocks them on the head…hopefully will not damage any other insects in the process.

Helen
Helen
1 year ago

We have quite a diverse garden, but unfortunately it includes a lot of screening lilly pillies, including some hedgy bits and three quite tall trees (6+ metres). One of the trees has now completely died, apparently stripped to bare twigs by those wretched beetles. So I will be watching with great interest to see if any solution emerges. We are very worried about the beetles moving to the other big trees – we can see the leaf damage quite high up. I’m not sure what would be practical on a tree that size.

Mark La Brooy
Mark La Brooy
1 year ago

I have a hedge of 16 plants (Backyard Bliss) varying in height from 2 metres to 1.3 metres. All are affected by this pest (paropsides calypso). I am trying a combination of a knockdown insecticide (Esbiothrin and permethin) in a product from Aldi called Enviroshield (green can). That knocked beetle and larvae for six. Then followed that immediately with a spray of Multicrop Eco-Bug (potassium salts of fatty acids). This treatment may be drastic but as there is no solution I have to try something short of pulling out all the trees.

Mark La Brooy
Mark La Brooy
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark La Brooy

Three weeks now and so far so good. Have found about ten stragglers todate. I am inspecting every day spray in hand. New growth is not affected.

Marianne Cannon
1 year ago

Thanks for the information Mark. Unless a product is registered for that pest, we are not permitted to recommend it’s off label use. However, if you scroll back through the comments, you will find that other gardeners have found Neem Oil to be quite successful.

Candice Wholohan
Candice Wholohan
11 months ago

I’ve just found one in my lounge room in Perth, Western Australia????

Michelle
Michelle
4 months ago

It’s so Sad when your beloved Lillypillys are so badly affected by this little beetle. We have 8 trees all badly affected, within weeks stripped back to leave bear brisk branches and dead looking tree. I’ve just bought some neem oil and eco oil from Bunnings and I’ll give this a go.

Marianne Cannon
4 years ago

thanks Leith,

hope your can control your Green Leaf Beetle..

regards
Marianne

Barry Burdon
Barry Burdon
4 years ago

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.

richard dobosz
richard dobosz
2 years ago
Reply to  Barry Burdon

thank you what did you spray with ,,, i live in newcastle NSW. can not find beetle… but many of the little larvae .richard

Marianne Cannon
2 years ago
Reply to  richard dobosz

Hello Richard,
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 the green leaf-eating beetle. A post from 2016, has said that Neem Oil has eradicated the pest problem on their Lilly Pilly hedge.

regards
Marianne

Ned
Ned
1 year ago
Reply to  Barry Burdon

Hello Barry I hope this helps you, it certainly helped me. For about a year I have been battling with the dreaded Calypso Beetle but at last I may have beaten them. It was suggested by my nurseryman that I try Searls “Conguard” insecticide.
I have sprayed twice, and from the first spray there has been on sign of the beetle or larvae. My Lilly Pilly trees are now looking great with lots of young growth. So hopefully that is the end of the Calypso Beetle, fingers crossed.