Adults stay in the canopy and females lay fertilized eggs on the bottom of leaves. Newly hatched larvae are a metallic red-brown color and they immediately start chewing the fleshy parts of leaves, leaving the thick veins behind. When ready to pupate, they move down the tree into soil and stay there through winter. Adults emerge in the spring. Because only one generation is produced each year, they rarely wreak havoc on a significant scale. When populations are large, however, they are considered a more serious pest. Natural controls like parasites and predators reduce the population the following year, stopping outbreaks from becoming widespread.
Larger Elm Leaf Beetles are found most often in hardwood forests and woodlands that have elm trees in abundance.