How to Kill Leaf Miners on Citrus Trees
Citrus leaf miner is a species of moth, the larvae of which feed on young citrus tree leaves by creating shallow tunnels that serpentine through each leaf and sometimes the surface of the fruit. Citrus leaf miner affects oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit and other varieties of citrus. Young citrus trees that produce a lot of new growth each year are particularly susceptible to leaf miner infestations and may experience reduced growth. While leaves and fruit attacked by leaf miners will look unsightly, it is rarely fatal to the tree. Citrus leaf miners can be controlled by both biological and chemical methods.
Allow natural predators or parasites including certain species of wasp, lacewing larvae, ladybugs and their larva as well as many species of spiders and ants control the infestation.
Purchase ladybugs and other beneficial insects from commercial sources and seed citrus trees with them to help reduce citrus leaf miner populations.
- Citrus leaf miner is a species of moth, the larvae of which feed on young citrus tree leaves by creating shallow tunnels that serpentine through each leaf and sometimes the surface of the fruit.
- Purchase ladybugs and other beneficial insects from commercial sources and seed citrus trees with them to help reduce citrus leaf miner populations.
Hang moth traps baited with pheromone, an insect attractant, to monitor the activity of leaf miner moths around your trees and to determine when to take action against any infestations.
Apply insecticides, such as spinosad, azadirachtin, or Imidacloprid when egg-laying moths are most active.
Do not use broad spectrum insecticides such as malethion or pyrythrin. These tend to kill beneficial insects that help to control pests.
Limit the food source for citrus leaf miners by reducing fertilization and irrigation in spring and fall to control the flush of new growth on young trees and removing shoots, known as water sprouts, that produce vigorous new growth for long periods of time.
Prevent Leaf Miners On Citrus Trees Organically
Citrus leafminers are the wormlike larvae of small, silvery-white moths that flutter around trees at night. These chewing insects tunnel shallow, wandering mines that appear as white trails running throughout the leaves. Leafminer feeding activity causes the leaves to curl and become misshapen. Citrus trees older than 4 years typically tolerate the feeding damage without reduced crop yield or plant growth. This gives the leaves enough time to mature and harden so the larvae won't be able to tunnel inside of the plant tissue. Promptly remove any water sprouts that shoot out from the limbs or trunks of an established tree. Newly hatched wasp larvae promptly start consuming their host leafminers. Planting a few herbs or flowers from those families should encourage the wasps to hang around your outdoor areas. One botanical insecticide available to homeowners is neem oil, which comes from the neem tree and helps prevent adult moths from laying eggs on the foliage.
- Hang moth traps baited with pheromone, an insect attractant, to monitor the activity of leaf miner moths around your trees and to determine when to take action against any infestations.
- University of California--Citrus Leaf Miner
- University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program: Citrus Leafminer
- Texas A&M AgriLife Extension: Citrus Leafminer
- Colorado State University Cooperative Extension: Some Pesticides Permitted in Organic Gardening
- University of California Cooperative Extension: Citrus for the Home Garden
In Jacksonville, Fla., Frank Whittemore is a content strategist with over a decade of experience as a hospital corpsman in the U.S. Navy and a licensed paramedic. He has over 15 years experience writing for several Fortune 500 companies. Whittemore writes on topics in medicine, nature, science, technology, the arts, cuisine, travel and sports.