Protecting Calla and Arum Lilies from Pests: Comprehensive Management Guide

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Calla lilies (Zantedeschia spp.) and Arum lilies are prized for their striking beauty and elegance. However, these plants are susceptible to various pests that can cause significant damage if left unmanaged. This blog will explore the common pests affecting Calla and Arum lilies and provide effective management strategies to protect these delicate plants.

Common Pests Affecting Calla and Arum Lilies

1. Thrips

Thrips are tiny, slender insects that feed on the sap of plants, causing silvering or stippling on the leaves and flowers. They are also notorious for spreading viral diseases.

  • Damage: Thrips scrape the surface of leaves, leaving behind silver streaks or spots. Severe infestations can cause leaves to curl or become distorted.
  • Management: Regular monitoring and early detection are crucial. Implement a preventative spray program as flower spikes emerge, repeating every 7-10 days during flowering. Use insecticidal soaps, neem oil, or chemical insecticides as needed.

2. Aphids

Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that suck plant sap, weakening the plants and potentially spreading viral diseases.

  • Damage: Aphids cause curling, yellowing, and distortion of leaves. They excrete honeydew, which leads to the growth of sooty mold, further reducing plant vigor.
  • Management: Introduce natural predators like ladybugs and lacewings to control aphid populations. Regularly inspect plants and remove aphids by hand or use a strong water spray. Insecticidal soaps and oils can also be effective.

3. Slugs and Snails

Slugs and snails are mollusks that feed on the leaves and stems of plants, leaving large holes and irregular chew marks.

  • Damage: They primarily feed at night, causing significant damage to young seedlings and mature plants alike. They also leave a slimy residue on the leaves, which is unsightly and can attract other pests.
  • Management: Handpick slugs and snails during the evening or early morning. Use traps like beer traps where slugs are attracted and drown. Applying diatomaceous earth around plants can deter these pests. Additionally, copper tape around plant bases acts as a barrier.

Other Pests and Their Management

4. Porcupines, Wild Pigs, and Birds

These larger pests can cause significant physical damage to lily fields by uprooting plants and feeding on bulbs and flowers.

  • Damage: Porcupines and wild pigs dig up and eat the bulbs, while birds may peck at the flowers and foliage, causing tearing and holes.
  • Management: Use physical barriers such as fencing to keep these animals out of the garden. Employ scare devices like noise makers, reflective tapes, or decoy predators to deter birds. Regularly check for signs of animal activity and take prompt action to mitigate damage.

Integrated Pest Management Strategies

1. Preventative Measures

  • Cultural Practices: Maintain healthy plants by providing optimal growing conditions, including proper watering, fertilization, and spacing. Healthy plants are more resistant to pest infestations.
  • Sanitation: Remove plant debris and weeds regularly to reduce hiding places for pests. Clean and disinfect tools and equipment to prevent the spread of pests and diseases.

2. Biological Control

  • Beneficial Insects: Encourage the presence of natural predators such as ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps in the garden. These beneficial insects help control pest populations naturally.

3. Chemical Control

  • Insecticides: Use insecticides as a last resort when pest populations are high and other control methods are ineffective. Select products specifically labeled for use on Calla and Arum lilies and follow the recommended application rates and intervals.

Practical Tips for Gardeners

  1. Regular Monitoring: Inspect plants frequently for signs of pest activity. Early detection and intervention are key to preventing severe infestations.
  2. Healthy Growing Conditions: Provide adequate sunlight, water, and nutrients to keep plants vigorous and less susceptible to pests.
  3. Integrated Pest Management (IPM): Combine cultural, biological, and chemical control methods for a holistic approach to pest management.
  4. Preventative Sprays: Implement a regular spray schedule, especially during peak growing and flowering periods, to keep pest populations in check.


Protecting Calla and Arum lilies from pests requires a proactive and integrated approach. By understanding the common pests and implementing effective management strategies, gardeners can ensure their lilies remain healthy and beautiful. Regular monitoring, combined with cultural, biological, and chemical control methods, will help keep pest populations under control and minimize damage to these exquisite plants.

With the right care and attention, your Calla and Arum lilies can thrive and continue to bring beauty to your garden. Stay vigilant and informed to enjoy the vibrant blooms of your lilies for years to come.

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