Elm Leaf Beetle Damage | How These Invasive Pests Ruin Trees

By proofPest

Summer days are meant for enjoying the weather and lounging under the shade of trees in your backyard. However, it’s hard to enjoy the breeze under the branches when the leaves are slowly falling off! 

Elm leaf beetles slowly destroy elm trees by feasting on the leaves. While these tiny pests aren’t directly responsible for dying trees, they can expose elm trees to diseases. 

You’re unlikely to find these insects indoors, but an elm leaf beetle is still a threat to your outdoor foliage. Check our article to learn more about these pests and how to protect your trees from damage!

What are Elm Leaf Beetles? 

Elm leaf beetles are not native to North America. This invasive species was brought over from Europe in the 1800s and have spread across the United States. If there is an area with elm trees, there’s a good chance these beetles are also nearby. 

As its name suggests, an elm leaf beetle will primarily dine on elm trees. You can spot signs of the damage by looking for small holes in a leaf’s structure or brown spots. If a tree has significant enough damage, the leaves will begin to shed and turn brown. 

Here’s a video that illustrates elm leaf beetle damage.

An elm leaf beetle is only around a centimeter long, and most will not grow larger than half an inch. These pests have a primarily yellow-brown coloration with dark markings covering the rest of their bodies. 

Female beetles can lay hundreds of eggs in a lifetime, posing a problem for elm trees on your property. During the spring, elm leaf beetles will mate and lay eggs on elm trees. As the larvae hatch and begin to develop, they will feast on the leaves with the adult population. 

Does an Elm Leaf Beetle Cause Dutch Elm Disease? 

You’ve probably heard about Dutch elm disease if you have elm trees on your property. The symptoms are most noticeable in the summer because the leaves will yellow prematurely and fall off. As the disease spreads throughout the entirety of the tree, branches will die and droop down. 

According to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the bacterium Ophiostoma novo-ulmi and O. ulmi causes Dutch elm disease in trees. When you pull back the tree’s bark or remove one of the branches, you can locate signs of the bacteria by dark streaks and rings on the grain. 

So, what exactly causes these trees to deteriorate? While elm leaf beetles can impact an elm tree’s leaves, they cannot spread this disease. Instead, elm bark beetles facilitate the spread of this disease to healthy elm trees.

These tiny black and brown beetles munch on an elm tree’s bark. When the beetles feast on infected trees, they can then transmit Dutch elm disease elsewhere. Even untouched trees are susceptible to the bacteria if affected trees reside nearby.

If you suspect your elm trees have Dutch elm disease, it’s important to act fast. Removing affected branches can preserve the tree, but you’re unlikely to save it if the disease has quickly spread. Keeping the elm bark beetle population limited and planting disease-resistant trees are the primary way to protect trees on your property. 

An elm leaf beetle can still cause significant damage to healthy leaves, but you can maintain the integrity of your tree with proper management. If you spot beetles on your elm trees, it’s important to identify the type of insect and look for areas of damage to determine your next steps. 

How to Get Rid of an Elm Leaf Beetle Infestation

When beetles destroy your trees, you will want to act quickly to preserve leaf growth. If left alone, the elm leaf beetles can continue to harm new spouts. 

Outdoor Care for Elm Leaf Beetles

While the elm leaf beetle has natural predators, they’re unlikely to curb the beetle’s influence on a tree’s leaves. Focus on using more direct methods to combat these pests. 

The most effective way to eliminate elm leaf beetles is by using a pesticide. At proof. pest control, we only use pesticides approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), so you can rest assured about the safety of your lawn. 

To combat elm leaf beetles, use systemic pesticides that distribute the chemicals throughout the tree. The pesticides won’t harm your elm tree, and they will eliminate all of the beetles that try to feed. 

Spray pesticides can also help reduce the number of beetles that graze on your trees. However, it may be difficult to disperse these products. You will have to spray the pesticides throughout the bulk of your tree with high-powered machines that can reach all of the tree’s branches. 

If you’re unable to use these products to remove elm leaf beetles from your property, contact a reputable pest control company to help you out! 

Combating an Elm Leaf Beetle Problem Indoors

While they primarily spend their time outdoors, you could find a few in your home during the winter. Like many other insects that seek warmth away from cold temperatures, the elm leaf beetle could head inside your home through unseen cracks to escape the elements.

These pests won’t cause any damage to your home, but a large infestation can quickly grow into a nuisance. They may begin swarming around your homes whenever the weather heats up. 

You don’t have to suffer while these pests fly around. To prevent these bugs from coming inside, seal up all potential entry points like cracks, door and window openings, and holes. 

Once inside, you can easily vacuum an elm leaf beetle when you see one. While tedious, this is the most practical way to rid your home of insects. While some indoor pesticides may have limited success, disposing of the beetles by sweeping or vacuuming is more effective. 

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