Garden Talk

with Rebecca Jordi

Q: What is wrong with my citrus tree? Is it dying?

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Citrus leafminer damage

Citrus leafminer damage

A:  This question as been asked of me at least six times last week.  Every time I saw the damage brought to my office, it was caused by an insect called the citrus leafminer, Phyllocnistis citrella. The trailing lines in the citrus leaves are caused by the larvae of a tiny moth.  It is a serious problem for the citrus industry but not really for those of us growing citrus in our landscapes.  While it does make the leaves look horrible, the insect carries no disease.  Since it feeds within the leave tissue layers, chemical pesticide applications are fairly useless.  Removal of all the leaves while they are still green could potentially reduce the amount of nutrients available to the tree. I prefer to hand kill the larvae while it is feeding in the leave tissue. The adult female lays the egg on new leaf tissue so you only need to check new growth. I have effectively diminished the population simply be being a good scout of the plant and hand removing the larvae.  I am also suggesting it is good therapy – just a thought!  The following is a publication from the University of Florida on the citrus leafminer:


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