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Red alert over Monty Don’s lily beetle tip

Plant protection firms have accused Gardeners’ Worldpresenter Monty Don of issuing biased advice on how to control a troublesome plant pest.

Gardeners' World presenter Monty Don

On BBC2’s flagship show last Month, Monty told how he’d found lily beetle on a fritillary at Longmeadow, his Herefordshire plot.

“They’re bright red, so thankfully they’re easy to see, because the only way to get rid of them is to look for them, hand-pick them and destroy them,” Monty said.

But the RHS website shows that in addition to hand-picking, Bayer’s Provado Ultimate Bug Killer and Scotts’ Bug Clear Ultra Gun will control lily beetle.

While Monty is organic, and has no obligation to mention sprays, manufacturers objected to his comment that hand-picking is the only method.

“It is a shame that Mr Don does not approve of chemicals – that’s his choice – but what he means is that hand-picking is his only way of controlling lily beetle,” said John Clowes of Scotts Miracle-Gro.

“Picking beetles off can be adequate, if you like picking up bugs that are covered in their excrement. Scotts Bug Clear Ultra Gun is approved by Government and is a popular product,” John added.

Monty’s stance rattled cages at Bayer Garden, too.

A lily beetle (credit: WikiMedia)

“Gardeners need to know all the options available; they are then equipped to make an informed decision as to the approach they want to take to tackle the problem in question,” said Bayer’s Laura Varey.

“For gardeners who don’t restrict themselves to organics, Provado Ultimate Bug Killer Ready to Use and Concentrate2 will do the job well.”

Westland said its Plant Rescue Bug Killer for Ornamentals ready-to-use and concentrate would target lily beetle.

The BBC said: “Monty is well known to viewers as an organic gardener and it is in this context that he advocated removing lily beetle by hand.

“However, Monty often mentions non-organic alternatives and we will endeavour to ensure this is more consistent in future,” said the spokesman.

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  • gordon burnell says:
    10:02 AM on 16th May 2012

    W D 40 spray kills lily beetle does not harm the plant or bees etc.
    A short spray dries on the beetle and stops it moving and breathing.
    Works on greenfly to.

  • Gill Austin says:
    11:24 AM on 16th May 2012

    We have had lillybeetles in Nth Deveon for several years and I agree they are very distructive and absolutely disgusting to “hand pick off” by the time I’ve spotted one, rushed to get my gloves on, the horror has scarpered. Spraying is best!!! Sorry Monty

  • Sue Appleton says:
    2:45 PM on 27th May 2012

    I don’t see any reason whatsoever to spray lily beetles, just go out with a tissue or paper towel & if you see a lily beetle hold this under the leaf & quickly push/pick the beetle off onto it & squash it, same with the eggs/grubs, just wipe them off with a tissue & squash.

  • Martin says:
    9:39 AM on 7th August 2012

    What an utter disgrace that the BBC should try to force an organic gardener to plug “icides”. For some reason the companies appear to have a hold over them, as the BBC charter is regularly ignored on Radio Sussex – despite many complaints, Steve Bradley has for years plugged products by name, having suggested that there are no organic answers

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