Beetle Lifecycle Story

Lifecycle of the Elm Leaf Beetle

A native of Europe, the elm leaf beetle was first identified in Australia in 1989, along the Mornington Peninsula.

elm leaf beetle size

The elm leaf beetle is approximately the size of a large grain of rice, appearing dull green in colour early in the season, with the colour becoming more defined as the season progresses. As the beetles feed their colours become more defined, the wing case colours intensify, appearing as dark olive brown and iridescent green parallel stripes that run length ways.

Elm leaf beetles hibernate over the winter period in dry sheltered places such as under tree bark and around buildings and in similar locations. Activity begins in spring as temperatures rise with beetles emerging and feeding on young elm leaves and new sucker growth.

As the season advances beetles start laying small eggs in a double row, the colour and appearance of mini lemons, approximately the size of a sesame seed.

elm leaf beetle eggs larvae instar moults

Hatching begins in 7-10 days depending on temperature, with larvae resembling small black specks.

Larvae have three instars or “moults” – and grow significantly between the first and third instar. Beetle larvae feed on the leaves by eating the green matter out, leaving a skeleton of veins that desiccates leaves.

elm leaf beetle lifecycle

Lifecycle of an Elm Leaf Beetle

2 to 3 generations of elm leaf beetle can occur per year…

In northern Victoria and southern NSW, two to three generations or more can occur per year, while in southern Victoria usually one to two generations occur, depending on the temperature and length of season.

Consecutive generations of beetle can continue to feed well into the first week of May (southern Victoria), depending on temperature and the nutritional quality of the leaf. With the onset of cooler weather or leaf senescence, they will seek shelter and hibernate until October.

Read more on the Elm Leaf Beetle lifecycle.

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