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How to Kill Leaf Miners on Citrus Trees

By Frank Whittemore ; Updated September 21, 2017

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.

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.


Things You Will Need

  • Citrus leaf miner moth traps
  • Ladybugs or other beneficial insects
  • Insecticides such as spinosad, azadirachtin or Imidacloprid

About the Author


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.