Many of us garden for pleasure; we take pride in our flower selection and the time, sweat, and maybe even tears that went into the planning of the final product. We also strive to keep our gardens in tip-top shape so that when our flowers are in full bloom, there is no question that they are the envy of the entire neighborhood.
Unfortunately, pests have a different approach to gardening – they eat everything! Identifying which pest is eating your lilies is key to formulating an effective deterrent program. What works for one pest may not deter another, so looking for signs of each pest is vital to defending your beautiful lilies.
Squirrels, rabbits, deer, and chipmunks are just some of the animals that might be targeting your lilies for a midnight snack. So, let’s take a closer look at how the lily attracts each of these animals and determine how we can keep these pests away from our flowers so that they can continue to thrive in our garden all season long.
- Lilies are attractive to a variety of pests including squirrels, deer, rabbits, gophers, and chipmunks.
- Identifying which pest targets your lilies is key to creating a proper repellent program.
- Deterrents for one pest may not work for another, so understanding the signs of each pest can help further protect your lilies.
Basics About Lillies
There are many different varieties of lilies. The University of Maryland backs this up by telling us there are over 80 different species of lily, each one holding a different meaning to match.
While these flowers vary in color and size, all lilies have an amazing ability to attract insects for pollination! Because of this secret superpower, this flower would be a wonderful addition to any current or future flower garden!
To keep your lilies thriving in your flower garden or yard, it’s important to know a little more about each of the potential pests that may come around looking to make a meal out of these gorgeous flowers and how to stop them.
Let’s dig into the 10 animals that love eating your lilies:
1. Squirrels Enjoy Eating Lillies
Don’t be fooled into thinking that these pests only munch on your birdseed and any nuts that they find nearby. Nope, these creatures are very active and love running around which means they can get to a lot of areas in search of food.
Squirrels are happy to snack on plants, insects, and at times even smaller animals. And when it comes to your lilies, these critters are especially attracted to the nectar and seeds that are inside the flower.
How To Stop Squirrels From Eating Your Lillies
Squirrels are a common pest, and while they may look cute from a distance, we want to keep them away from our flower garden to prevent any damage. Here are some helpful tricks to keep them away from your lilies.
- Install a wire fence around your plants: This may not be the prettiest of our recommendations, but it is certainly effective. Due to the height that lilies can grow, you may need to adjust your fencing plans or plan accordingly and acknowledge that you’ll likely need a fence three feet high or taller.
Chicken wire is efficient and cost-effective. It can protect your lilies, though it may not look the greatest. Try out YARDGARD Mesh Poultry Netting. Since squirrels are talented climbers, try not to stake the fence. This way, if the squirrels try to climb, the fence will droop, discouraging them from further climbing.
- Sprinkle cayenne pepper around the base of your lilies: Cayenne is one of the scents that squirrels don’t tolerate well. If you sprinkle this spice around your garden, concentrating on the areas that may get higher activity, squirrels will stay away.
If you don’t keep cayenne on hand, several other common household spices will work just as effectively:
- Pepper flakes
Sprinkle any of these spices around the base of your lilies and other plants, and watch your squirrel activity decrease. You can read more about why hot pepper repels squirrels here!
2. Rabbits Love Eating Lillies
Rabbits are a very common pest in your yard and garden whether it’s for your fruits, veggies, or flowers. They begin searching for their food at a young age, so it’s not surprising to learn that they’ll often bring some of these items back with them in the evening hours to ensure they have food available.
The pollen in your lily plants is what will initially attract rabbits to this flower for a snack. While the pollen is usually their focus, that’s not to say that rabbits won’t eat the nectar or plant itself if nothing is there to stop them.
How To Stop Rabbits From Munching On Lily Plants
Since rabbits can dig under fences and even chew through certain fencing material, fencing in your flower garden may not be the best option for keeping this pest out. Instead, try one of these proven methods.
- Dust talcum powder on your plants: I know what you’re thinking. Baby powder? On my plants? Yes. Because rabbits have such a great sense of smell, dusting your lilies with talcum powder will direct these critters elsewhere for their next meal. There are plenty of other scents and smells that will deter rabbits, some of which might be in your spice cabinet! Try using TITGG Talcum Powder for this method.
- Sprinkle blood meal around the soil of your lilies: This option may not be for the faint of heart, but it sounds worse than it is. Blood meal is a dry powder – nothing wet here – that can be used for several beneficial reasons in your garden. Earth Science – Natural Blood Meal is a great choice to deter rabbits.
If you sprinkle this powder around your plants, the smell will help deter certain pests, like rabbits and deer, from destroying your flowers, but blood meal is also high in nitrogen which makes it a great fertilizer!
Another option is to use sound deterrents. You can read all about the sounds and noises that scare rabbits away here!
3. Voles Are Known To Eat Lillies
The first time someone told me I had vole activity in my backyard, I was two seconds away from replying to them with: “You mean mole activity?” Thank you, Google, for saving me.
Voles are a pest completely different from moles and, at times, may even be confused with a mouse. Voles have long tails and soft fur, but their snouts are one of the main points of difference between these two rodents.
Voles are also avid diggers and can travel underground. Because of their tunneling abilities, it’s not uncommon for them to pull up lilies or other plants and then eat them on-site or bring them with them for a later meal.
How To Stop Voles From Digging Up Your Lilies
Vole holes may be hard to spot depending on how closely your plants were originally planted and how large they grow. If you spot holes that are 1 to 2 inches wide with little to no surrounding dirt from the hole, you’ve likely got a vole problem.
Here’s what to do:
- Keep your grass short and eliminate the weeds: Voles are pests that don’t like to eat out in the open. They prefer areas with taller grass to stay concealed. While letting your grass grow to a healthy length is a good thing, don’t let it get out of control as it provides additional cover for these and other pests.
Depending on the location of your flower garden, you may also consider mowing a pass or two around your garden on a shorter mow setting than the rest of your yard to deter vole activity.
- Put your used coffee grounds to work: After making your daily morning coffee, dry the coffee grounds out and use them as a vole deterrent!
Spreading the coffee grounds around your plants will deter voles, but after filling any holes you spot, using coffee grounds on top of the filled holes adds an extra layer of protection to ensure that these rodents won’t come back.
- Use traps: If you’ve spotted vole activity, you can place traps around the hole’s opening and along their potential pathway to catch these creatures as they come and go from their tunnel.
Whether you choose to bait the traps or not, be sure to check traps daily so that anything you catch doesn’t become an attraction for any larger pests that may be lurking nearby.
If you’d rather use different deterrents than the ones we have listed, you can read more about all the things that voles hate so you can keep these pesky rodents away for good!
4. Aphids Love To Eat Lilly Plants
Aphids are a known pest to a variety of plants in your garden, and lilies do not escape the list. While these bugs are small in size, you should be able to more easily identify their activity by any curled, yellowish leaves on your plants, as well as the slimy, glob-like substance that they leave behind.
If you want to get to the bottom of why you are seeing aphids all of a sudden, check out our article on the reasons you have aphids in your garden!
How To Prevent Aphids From Destroying Your Lilies
Getting rid of aphids as soon as you spot them is important because of how quickly these bugs reproduce. If left untreated, they can easily reproduce and destroy your lilies and other plants in the blink of an eye.
- Hose down your lilies regularly: We don’t want you to overwater your plants, but hosing down your lilies with water is an easy way to remove aphids from the plant. With a good shower, the water will force the aphids to detach from your plant, and they won’t be able to find your lilies again to continue their destruction.
- Treat the leaves of your lily plants with a soap or oil mixture: You can make a soap and water mixture to spray your plants with, and the mixture will eliminate any aphids on your plant.
Oil-based insecticides, or even the canola oil that you cook with, can also be used to smother these bugs.
If you decide to use either of these options, we recommend giving your flowers a quick wash-off to remove any soap or oil residue that may be left behind as a part of this removal process.
5. Deer Can Eat Lillies
Deer are another common animal that you shouldn’t be surprised to see entering (or leaving) your flower garden if you don’t have any barriers.
Deer love to make a meal out of the petals and nectar of your lily plant, so if you notice that your lily petals are gone but the stamen or pistils are relatively untouched, a deer is likely your culprit.
How To Stop Deer From Chowing Down On Lilies
- Use scent deterrents: Deer have a great sense of smell and shy away from anything strong-smelling as it can distract them from detecting food sources and predators that may be in the area.
We recommend using strong scents as the main deterrent for deer in your flower garden. Cayenne pepper works great at repelling deer. We have some fantastic information on how to use cayenne pepper to repel deer.
- Plant deer-resistant flowers in your garden along with your lilies: That’s right, believe it or not, there are certain flowers that deer stay away from. Peonies, lavender, poppies, and daffodils are excellent choices.
- Utilize a deer repellant: Consider this the liquid version of our previous recommendation. Deer sprays like Deer Out Concentrated Deer Repellant can be used on your flower garden and other plants to keep deer out.
The product itself is very mint-like and rather appealing to human noses, but to deer, it’s a scent they want to keep away from. As a bonus, this product is rain-resistant so applications are few and far between!
By the way, if you’re seeing a lot of deer in your yard, you can check out what to do to keep them away here for some more in-depth information.
6. Mice Love To Eat Lillies
Similar to voles, mice like to eat lily bulbs. This is mostly because mice will dig through the soil and bring the bulbs up during the process – and mice aren’t a pest known to turn down a meal.
How To Stop Mice From Digging Up Lily Bulbs
Because of their similar activities, treatment for mice can resemble the treatment for voles and still be effective. Keeping your yard properly trimmed and placing traps will help get rid of these pests and keep your lilies thriving.
Here are a couple of additional recommendations for getting rid of these pests from your flower garden.
- Add strongly scented flowers to your garden: In case your flower garden wasn’t fragrant enough, consider adding hyacinth, lavender, or daffodil to your garden to deter mice.
- Keep your flower garden tidy: While you may cut your flowers to help create a nice vase display, be sure to clean up any fallen or damaged plants, as well as leaves and stems that may have fallen during your pruning.
While you may be tempted to leave this bit of yard work for the next day, mice will spot areas like these and stay for the night (or several days), and then stay because they have easy access to your flowers.
Additionally, vinegar is something that you can use to repel mice. Due to its strong scent, most mice will steer clear of it! We have a fantastic guide on how to use vinegar to repel mice here.
7. Raccoons Surprisingly Eat Lillies
You might be surprised that an omnivore this size is willing to eat your lilies, but raccoons don’t have the nickname “trash pandas” for nothing.
While it is true that raccoons prefer to eat fruits and insects, that doesn’t stop them from rummaging through your open garbage, and it certainly won’t stop them from venturing over to your flower garden to eat your flowers and bulbs.
How To Stop Raccoons From Stealing Your Lilies
Because raccoons aren’t picky eaters, keeping food and food smells as far away from your flower garden as possible is an important step in keeping raccoons out.
- Clean your garbage cans regularly: Even if your garbage cans aren’t near your garden, your yard can easily become an all-night buffet for these creatures if you’re not careful.
Consider cleaning out your garbage cans regularly with soap and water, or possibly even with a bleach mixture depending on the garbage contents. Not only will you have sparkling clean garbage cans, but the cleaning also removes any lingering food smells that could attract those thieving raccoons.
- Remove or put away any leftover pet food and water: If you have outdoor pets or indoor/outdoor pets, you don’t want to leave leftover food or water out for days on end.
Leaving food outside will attract raccoons -and other pests- to your yard for a free meal. Then, once they’ve eaten the leftover pet food, they will easily make the transition over to your flower garden for dessert.
Other flowers and plants in your garden may be attracting raccoons as well. Check out the plants that raccoons eat to make sure you don’t have any tasty snacks that attract raccoons, who then move on to your lilies.
8. Chipmunks Are Known To Eat Lillies
Because of the blooming season of lilies, this flower makes an especially enticing meal for chipmunks. From the seeds of the lily to the bulb itself, these critters are happy to find your garden and stay for a while to enjoy the free meal.
How To Prevent Chipmunks From Eating Lily Bulbs
Trapping chipmunks is an option, however, because chipmunks are so common, it’s hard to determine whether you’ve captured them all to eliminate your problem. For this pest, we recommend treatment of your flowers as the best way to deter these critters.
- Treat leaves with pepper spray: You can make your plant pepper spray with cayenne pepper and water, but there are some store-bought options to pick from as well. Try Nature’s Mace as a store-bought, non-toxic option for treating your lilies.
Other scents that chipmunks hate include garlic, vinegar, and mint.
- Remove bird baths and feeders from your flower garden: While these items can add a nice aesthetic to your flower garden and welcome a variety of birds that may help with pollination, they also attract pests like chipmunks.
Consider removing, or at least relocating, your bird baths and feeders to a spot away from your flower garden so that pests aren’t enticed by the bird seed.
9. Gophers Tend To Eat Lillies
Gophers are most active at dusk and dawn, and since they’re tunneling creatures, you may not be able to spot their damage until it’s too late.
If you mix in the fact that gophers tunnel underground, potentially disrupting the root system of your lilies and other plants, and add the fact that they love to eat the roots and bulbs of this plant, this pest is a double whammy for your lilies.
How To Deter Gophers From Your Lilies
Because this pest can cause damage to your lilies and your yard and garden, our treatment option is twofold: protect your plants and get rid of the pest.
- Plant your bulbs with the help of a bulb cage: Bulb cages can be made from different materials, but they all serve the same purpose: protect your flower bulbs from pests.
When planting your lilies, consider using a bulb cage that’s large enough to meet your needs and allows the roots to grow through its openings. The openings should be small enough to keep pests out but large enough to ensure your plant can still grow and develop.
Check out these Root Guard Speed Baskets that come in different sizes to meet your planting needs!
- Fill in any holes you see in your garden or yard: Because gopher holes can be several inches wide, they pose a hazard to you or anyone else who may be working in your garden.
If you spot a large hole or opening of any sort in your garden, we recommend filling it immediately to keep your work area safe and deter pest activity. You can read our guide on how to fill in gopher holes here!
If, after you fill the hole, you notice another one appear in the same area, you likely have gopher activity and may need to reach out to your local pest professional for recommendations on additional treatment. Use our nationwide pest control finder to connect with a local professional.
10. Lily Beetles Often Feast On Lillies
The name should say it all. These beetles are small, but they can cause quite a lot of damage to your lily plants if they aren’t properly identified and dealt with.
While lily beetles are mostly attracted to the flower itself and the pollen and nectar inside, if left untreated, these insects will continue to feed on the plant in its entirety.
Since these bugs are most active at night, if you have a large infestation, it’s quite possible that the damage can begin (and end) during the evening hours when you may not be as attentive to your garden.
How To Stop Lily Beetles From Feasting On Your Lily
Like the aphids mentioned earlier, removing this pest from your lilies as soon as they’re spotted is important in minimizing any damage to your flowers. Removing them from the plant is the best practice for eliminating them from your entire garden.
- Handpick the beetles off your plants: If you’re not squeamish, you can pick these beetles off yourself and drop them into a bucket of soapy water to eliminate your problem.
- Use neem oil: A spray such as Natria’s Neem Oil Spray can be used as an organic insecticide and pest repellant on your flower and other plants. Spray this oil on your lilies and not only will it eliminate any eggs that may have been laid on your plant, but it will also repel any adult beetles from returning!
- Check your plants regularly: As we said, prevention is the best medicine. Check your lilies daily for signs of an infestation and act quickly to protect your plants.
When adding flowers to your garden, make sure the plants you’re introducing are pest-free, and check your lilies and other flowers regularly to make sure they aren’t experiencing any harmful insect activity.
Piecing It All Together
From pests big to small, these are the most common animals that are eating your lilies no matter what area you live in. Whether it’s the lily bulbs, the flowers, the leaves, or the deliciousness inside, there are a few common fixes to prevent these animals from making your lilies into their next meal.
To recap, here are the 10 animals that love eating your lilies:
|Damage to Lily Plant
|Part of Lily Most Likely to Damage
|Eating, Sucking sap
Use strong scents as a repellent, use fencing when appropriate, and keep your garden and yard well-manicured and tidy. With these fixes in mind and a few other recommendations on treatment from our list, you’re sure to keep your lilies in bloom all season long!
Chio, E. H., & Yang, E. C. (2008). A bioassay for natural insect repellents. Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology, 11(4), 225-227.
Lawrence, B., & Leighton, A. (1996). Where Have All the Lilies Gone? A Population Study. Blue Jay, 54(4).
Lim, K. B., Barba-Gonzalez, R., Zhou, S., Ramanna, M. S., & Van Tuyl, J. M. (2008). Interspecific hybridization in lily (Lilium): taxonomic and commercial aspects of using species hybrids in breeding. Floriculture, ornamental and plant biotechnology, 5, 146-151.
MacRae, E. A. (1998). Lilies: a guide for growers and collectors. Timber Press.
Salisbury, A. (2008). Impact, host range and chemical ecology of the lily beetle, Lilioceris lilii.
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