What are Leaf Beetles?
The classification of leaf beetles includes more than 35,000 different species, which means that they are encountered often by homeowners. Some leaf beetles can be helpful to homeowners in their landscaping efforts, while other varieties can destroy plant life within a short period of time.
Leaf beetles can live in a number of different plants and trees. When found on trees, they tend to lay their eggs on the underside of the trees leaves or under the edges of the bark. When the eggs hatch, the leaf beetle larvae begin to devour the leaves to fuel their growth. As they grow older, they often move down the tree towards the roots and the soil.
Identification of Leaf Beetles
Leaf beetles come in a variety of shapes and sizes, ranging from just a single millimeter long to over 18 millimeters in length. Most have an oval-shaped body with a circular head. Oftentimes, leaf beetles have a shiny outer coat that is somewhat reflective. Every variety of leaf beetles also has a set of wings, which gives it additional mobility.
How can I tell if I have a leaf beetle problem? Most of the time, the damage caused by leaf beetles to landscaping is minimal. It may cause trees or shrubs to look more weathered, as some of the leaves are eaten through, but in most cases, this is the extent of the disruption caused by the leaf beetles. Sometimes, however, leaf beetles can cause more damage than usual if they prey on trees that are not yet mature or have been planted under stressful conditions, such as a transplant. In these cases, the damage caused by the leaf beetles can strain the plant in question so much that it suffers and dies.
You may also begin to notice these beetles during the winter months, when they seek out warm shelter on the inside of homes. While they do not continue to mate or breed during the colder months and are more likely to be a nuisance than an infestation, the presence of leaf beetles in the home can make some homeowners uncomfortable.
Removal and Preventative Procedures
How can I get rid of leaf beetles? Within your home, the best way to get rid of leaf beetles is simply to scoop them up and move them outside or to use the hose of your vacuum to remove them.
Chemical Application and Pesticidal Removal of Leaf Beetles
When leaf beetles are found on plants and in trees in your garden, you can use several methods to get rid of them. There are three main pesticides that are commercially available to homeowners that can be used to treat the areas where the larvae have just hatched.
For homeowners that want to avoid standard pesticides in their gardens, there are several kinds of bacteria available on the market that can be applied to the leaves where the eggs of the leaf beetles hatch, which can kill the larvae before they are very mobile.
In any treatment of a garden for leaf beetles, it is important to ensure that the method used is applied liberally and thoroughly. Since the leaf beetles can lay their eggs on a number of leaves at one time, it can be difficult to ensure that the treatment is fully effective. It also becomes much harder to kill adult leaf beetles, so the timing of treatment is vital to success.
In some cases, it may take multiple treatments to fully ensure that the leaf beetles are gone. With each application of the chosen treatment plan, fewer beetles are available to reproduce and lay eggs, which makes each subsequent treatment more effective.
While these beetles can be less of a nuisance than a number of other garden pests, their feeding habits can leave unsightly damage to shrubs, plants, and trees. For homeowners that are bringing in new plants to their gardens or transplanting trees from one location to another, it can be important to ensure that leaf beetles are not present in the garden or yard beforehand. While the treatment for leaf beetles can require multiple applications, it can be highly effective in destroying leaf beetle larvae, leading to the eventual eradication of the leaf beetle infestation.
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