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Larger Elm Leaf Beetle (Monocesta coryli)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Larger Elm Leaf Beetle

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Image Credit: Julie P. from Castalia, NC
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Image Credit: Tim, taken in VA
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The body of the Larger Elm Leaf Beetle differs form most others with its wider, rounded rear, giving it the shape of a traditional light bulb.

Updated: 01/31/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Individual Larger Elm Leaf Beetles have a variety of forms. The most recognizable version has a yellow body with four large brown-black spots on the elytra (wing coverings) - two high and two low. As its name suggests, it is often found on elm trees where its larval form devours leaves. Hazel, pecan, and birch trees are also possible host plants. While elm trees have many insect enemies these days, this one is not as troublesome as others like the regular Elm Leaf Beetle. Larger Elm Leaf Beetles are found most often in hardwood forests and woodlands that have elm trees in abundance.

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. Signs of caterpillar presence include the leaf skeletons and a growing brown swath of foliage, almost as though the leaves were scorched. This species rarely eats through a large area of foliage, but occasional outbreaks happen. When ready to pupate, larvae move down the tree into the soil and stay there throughout 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 wasp parasites and predators reduce the population the following year, generally preventing occasional outbreaks from becoming widespread.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Patterned insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Coleoptera
        Family: Chrysomelidae
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          Genus: Monocesta
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            Species: coryli

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Monocesta coryli
Category: Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 10mm to 16mm (0.39" to 0.62")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: yellow; brown; orange; black; blue
Descriptors: bands; spots; long; flying

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 10mm (0.4in) and 16mm (0.6in)
Lo: 10mm
Md: 13mm
Hi: 16mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Larger Elm Leaf Beetle may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Larger Elm Leaf Beetle. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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