If you’ve been noticing small holes in the leaves of your elm trees, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with an infestation of elm leaf beetles.
These pesky pests can quickly do damage to your trees. However, there are a number of natural remedies and methods you can try to get rid of them. Some are more effective than others, but all of them are worth a try.
But first, let’s take a closer look at what elm leaf beetles are and why they’re such a problem.
Elm leaf beetles are leaf-chewing pests that feed on the leaves of elm trees. If you have an elm tree in your yard, you’re probably going to see these little guys sooner or later.
The easiest way to identify an adult elm leaf beetle is by its characteristic dark stripe along each side of its wing cover. It is also about a ¼ inch long and yellow to olive green in color .
If you’re not sure if that’s what they look like, it’s always a good idea to take a picture and send it to an expert for confirmation.
Elm Leaf Beetle Damage
The larvae skeletonize the leaf surface, causing the leaf to turn brown and look lacy. The leaf will also drop from the tree. But, the adult beetles chew holes through the leaves, leaving a pattern.
How to Get Rid of Elm Leaf Beetle Naturally
If you’re seeing signs of elm beetle damage, it’s time to take action. Below are a few ways to do so organically.
You can vacuum them up if they are a problem inside your home. This is the most tedious method, but it does work. Suck them up — dead or alive — and dispose of them.
2. Remove Dead Branches
You’ll also need to remove any dead or dying branches from your tree.
This is because these branches pose a risk of falling. Once fallen, they become habitats for the species of bark beetles that vector the Dutch elm disease fungi .
So take a look at your tree and identify any drying or dead branches. Once you’ve identified them, go ahead and remove them.
3. Destroy Egg Masses
Destroying the eggs will help control the population. Look for egg masses on the undersides of the leaves and squish them.
The eggs are laid in clusters of about 5 to 25 in double rows and are usually bright yellow in color.
4. Natural Predators
There are also a few natural predators that can do the job for you.
Ladybugs, for example, are natural predators of the elm leaf beetle. You can attract them to your yard by planting flowers that they like, such as scented geraniums and marigolds.
Another predator that will go after elm leaf beetles is the ground beetles. Other natural enemies include lacewing larvae, earwigs, and parasitic wasps.
5. Rake Up Fallen Leaves and Tree Bark
Rake up the fallen leaves and dispose of them. This solution will eliminate the area where the beetles pupate, limiting the population.
6. Seal Cracks and Crevices
You can prevent an elm beetle infestation in your house by sealing any cracks or crevices. This home remedy will make it harder for them to find a way inside, and once they’re sealed out, they won’t be a nuisance.
So take a look around your house and see if there are any areas where the sealant has worn away. If there are, patch them up as soon as possible.
7. Cultivate the Soil
Here’s another DIY tip: cultivate the soil. Elm leaf beetles overwinter in the soil, so by digging up the soil, you’re actually doing your part to help keep these pests under control by exposing them to potential predators.
Spinosad is effective against a wide range of pests, including elm leaf beetles, and it’s relatively safe for humans and the environment.
9. Trunk Banding
Trunk banding is a great elm leaf beetle larvae control measure.
What you do is wrap a band of sticky tape or tree wrap around the tree’s trunk, and this traps the larvae as they try to move down.
The great thing about these elm beetle traps is that they trap insects, but they will not capture small animals or birds.
10. Monterey Bug Buster-O
Another way to eliminate these pesky beetles is to use a product called Monterey Bug Buster-O.
It’s an OMRI-listed pesticide made from pyrethrins, and it’s safe for use around people and pets. This also means that it can be freely used in organic gardening.
This elm beetle treatment is also great for getting rid of tarnished plant bugs, as well as cankerworms, whiteflies, millipedes, and other pests.
11. EcoPCO AR-X Multipurpose Insecticide
EcoPCO AR-X is a multipurpose insecticide that can be used in homes, schools, factories, and other residential and commercial areas to kill elm leaf beetles. It’s made from botanical sources, so it’s safe for use around humans and animals.
This product is non-toxic and has a low environmental impact, making it the perfect choice for those looking for an environmentally-friendly solution.
Once your yard and home have been cleared of the elm leaf beetle infestation, it is important to make sure they don’t return. These preventative measures will help keep the beetles at bay.