Kevin Parker is a senior horticulturist at The Greenery Garden and Home. He says the biggest mistake people make with their citrus trees is waiting until the insect appears to do something about it.
"The biggest mistake people make is spraying too late in the season. We all wait until we see them [citrus leafminer] to do something about it. But by that stage, it's too late," says Kevin.
How to identify citrus leafminer
A citrus leafminer is a moth that lays eggs on the leaves of citrus trees.
"In the springtime, when the plant produces all the new leaves, the moth lays eggs on the leaves. From the egg, a little worm, called larvae, hatches out and burrows into the leaf," explains Kevin.
When the larvae is fully grown, it will curl the leaf around for protection while they pupate.
"It's called leafminer because it looks like it's mining the leaf, you can see all these little translucent sorts of tunnels, and it can significantly damage the leaves," adds Kevin.
How to prevent citrus leafminer
The best way to control leafminers is to prevent the larvae from burrowing into your citrus plants in the first place.
1. Spray with an oil
The best time to spray your citrus plants to prevent citrus leafminer is as soon as you see new growth on your tree.
"You can't control it [citrus leafminer] when you see it. You've got to spray preventively when new growth starts," says Kevin.
To protect the new growth on your citrus plants, spray them with an oil-based spray, like white oil, eco-oil or neem oil.
"The way the oils work is they put a film over the leaf, and they prevent the moth from laying eggs on the leaves," he explains.
Importantly, you can't just spray the leaves once. It's best to spray the leaves of your citrus tree with oil once a week when there's new growth until the leaves get firmer.
"It might be once a week for, say, six weeks or so during that period," says Kevin.
2. Pheromone traps
If you don't want to use oils and sprays in your garden, you can try pheremone traps to get rid of citrus leafminer naturally.
"The male moth is drawn to the pheromone and gets stuck on the sticky trap. So you're taking the male out of the equation, which means they can't breed with the female, and then you're less likely to get the larvae on the tree," says Kevin.
How to get rid of citrus leafminer
If citrus leafminer has made its way inside the leaves of your healthy citrus tree, there are a couple of things you can try.
1. Prune away damaged leaves - applying an oil to the leaves won't kill the larvae, so it's important to remove the infested leaves.
2. spray- "It's absorbed into the leaf, and it can affect the larvae when they're there," says Kevin.
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