white bugs under leaves

meyermike_1micha(5)January 2, 2008

Ok....HELP!! Can anyone tell me what kind of pest could be possibly attacking my citrus trees? I have been looking all over the internet and not one site seems to be identifying them for me. These little buggers are so small you need a magnifing glass to watch for them...They congregate together on the undersides of the leaf and cause curling up of new leafs not the older ones. They like to stay underneath the new leafs and crawl on the buds causing leaf curl and bud drop if not kept in check. These stupid things look like minute white dots or lice. they stick to the underside and when given a strong rinse of water, once the leaf starts to dry they start to crawl again. The only thing that seems to kill them or control them is a good spray of horticultural oil like neem oil. Then the problem is that when I use oil the buds drop being suffoctaed or sucked by the stupid bugs!!!! They do not look like mite. Just white dozens of specs walking around slowly under new growth and all over the buds.

Unless I find out what they are, I can not treat them with preditory bugs and I hate to spray my trees when I am getting new growth or flowers. I feel like throwing all my trees out and giving up. Always an issue with these citrus trees. Takes all the fun out growing them in doors in the winter. :-(.

Please help cuz I can not even find a picture of them on any web sites.

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Though they are neither minute nor white, it sounds like you could be describing aphids. Let's at least start by the process of elimination, and maybe we can help ID these critters.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 1:46PM
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a photo would be good to help ID these pests. for all pests, I have put the plant in the shower and using the hand held spray shower head, i would spray the whole plant: under the leaves, all the stems - i would even put some liquid soap on the soil and spray it all in and let the water run through. would need to do each time the plant needs watering until the bugs are gone. good luck.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 5:53PM
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I understand how frustrated you are and can sympathize but donÂt give up yet! Although you stated that these bugs do not look like mites it sound exactly like the mites my lime and lemon tree had. I did tons of research trying to find out what type they were and could not find any info or pictures of them. What I found that worked to kill these was using 1/3 cup MurphyÂs Oil Soap in one gallon of water and spraying this mixture on my trees. I would move the trees to a shady spot if you decide to do this because it will burn the leaves if you use this on them in the sun. I would also suggest washing your trees off really well and wait a few weeks before using this on them since you have been using oil on your trees.

There are two other ways I have gotten rid of mites on my plants but both methods (especially the first) are time consuming and need to be done 2-3 times a week depending on how badly your plants are infested. 1st one is wiping every leaf with a paper towel to squish the mites or using painters tape to pull the mites and their eggs of the leaves. (I have a pachira tree that had tons of red spider mites that I managed to get rid of by doing this.)The other method is taking the plant and wrapping the pot in plastic and then securing it with packing tape so the dirt is completely covered and then hold the plant upside down in the shower for around 10 minutes making sure every part of the tree gets sprayed with water. If the plant is large you may need someone to help hold the tree. The reason for holding the tree upside down is that the mites are then washed down the drain and not into the soil of the plant. One word of caution though make sure when holding the tree upside down you are not holding the tree just by its pot otherwise you will have a big mess to clean up. :)(I used this method to get rid of some reddish pinkish mites on my limequat tree.) Even if your trees donÂt have mites these methods (especially the last two) may get rid of whatever bug your tree has or at least keep the population down. Hope I helped abit.


    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 10:01PM
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Hi everyone.....Thanks for all your input so far...But so far, none has come up with the insect. Heres a follow up though. I would never be able to take a picture of them, because they are so small that I need a magnifying glass to even see them. And yes I have tried rinsing them off several times in the shower, even rubbing each leaf in the water with the plants upside down, but the minute the leaves dry though, they start to walk all over the leaves again!!! They hunker down and can not get rinsed off, then they start walking agian very slowly. That is how I know they are not spidermites. I have had spidermites before and never this hard to get rid of. But I did use neem oil and this seemed to kill them and make the leaves clean of all insects. The only problem is that when using kneem oil in time of blooming and new growth, it stinks because the oils causes bud drop and stunts new leaf growth even if done in shade. So I got deperate and called all over the country for citrus growers. And finally!!! Someone told me what it could be...For all those who have the same problem I may have helped u too. CITRUS MEALYBUGS pupea stage!!! They are and look different than the ones around here.I have not seen adults but yes they could be the pupea stage considering the green house in which I bought them at had a severe mealy bug problem all summer last year.They told me they did and they got rid of them with sprays nad beneficial insects, so I think they are starting to resurface now that they are in my room in a different enviroment. They even attack the root systems of your plants. They are hard to get rid of unless you change soil, pots, rinse off roots and entier plants. And being winter that is , it is impossible for me at this time. So I orderd beneficial insects in a bid to stop spraying oils so often and for the fact that these sprays do not get the ones on the roots. In particular LACEWING LARVEA and NEMETODES! per istructions from the citrus grower. Lets see if they do all the work for me. I will be getting a shipment soon and release these in the soil and on the leaves..I will keeep u all updated. You can read of these great insects at http://www.thebeneficialinsectco.com/green-lacewing-larvae.htm....or http://www.thebeneficialinsectco.com/green-lacewing-larvae.htm
Thanks to u all and hope u al, kekep in touch...If anyone wants to add to this please do so..I love good advice.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2008 at 9:51AM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Citrus mealybugs are white but are not as small as you describe. Beyond that, they are extremely slow moving critters. I doubt they're the damagers.

If the critters are the pupa stage of whatever critter is at hand, they wouldn't move at all.

Certain mealybugs -- the kinds named soil mealybugs or root mealybugs -- do attack roots, but these are even more sluggish and slow than are the mealybugs which live on leaves.

Nematodes won't survive on leaves.

I think nematodes are both overkill and *not* needed for whatever is the problem with your tree.

A few questions:
1. Where is your plant: indoors, outdoors, in a greenhouse?
2. Is the tree in a pot or the ground?

The curling leaves could be evidence of a cultural and/or environmental problem. And the critters could be coincidental inhabitants rather than damagers.

Beyond all that, have you taken a sample to a local large independent garden center to obtain advice from some knowledge person whop works there?

If not, do so but first secure the sample in a clear container -- a self-sealing plastic bag works well -- to protect the garden center's plants.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2008 at 11:05PM
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HiJean...Here's the deal. I did go to the garden center and they had the same exact insects on there other citris trees from where I got mine. And even the people there couldn't tell me what they were. So they gave me the number to the women that treats their plants by natural means for years and I called her 2 weeks ago. So happens it was a women my mother use to be friends with.
She said to me that they are mealybug larvea in which I still find hard to beleive, because I never saw an adult on my trees. She said to me to use Lacewing Larvea since they attack most soft bodied shell insects that damage trees and that is what she used to rid of their mealybug problem. I am at the point now where I am willing to use anything and yet very confused. I remember seeing these trees loaded with mealy all summer though. I bought them because I saw they were clean and that they were treated.I kept watching for these bugs from October till now and saw none and that is why I bought these trees. I returned them all this past weekend and yet my other trees have them now!!!So what is confusing is that I do not know what to beleive!!! These critters are so small they almost look smaller than a speck of dandruf. way smaller. you can not see them with the naked eye. I have rinsed my plants, sprayed them with oils, then with in a few days they are crawling on the back of my leaves again. I do not get it.I saw some this am again on the back side on my Pondorosa lemon tree. The leaves are fine until Let theme buggers build up then the leaves start to curl. They are sucking the leafs! When I spray them and kill them the leaves grow fine again.
My plants are browing indoors ina humid enviroment. 60's at night and 70's by day. 8 hours of grow lights and 4 of sun. Lots of lights and good growing conditions. Seems like on the days it is hotter in this room they are more active. Especially right after I have misted my trees. They are tiny unseeabl3e by the naked eye white specs...HELP

    Bookmark   January 8, 2008 at 4:01PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Hmm. Well, I still doubt you have mealies, not even the larvae. They're extremely sluggish and they don't do the sort of damage you describe.

Where do you live? Are you any where near your county's Extension Service office? If so, or if they accept mailed specimens -- you would have to ask how they want the sample packaged -- perhaps you can get some helpful advice.

Further, can you post pictures? If so, try close up, midway and overall views. I know you said the moving critters are too small to photograph, but the appearance overall and of individual leaves might give us more clues.

Perhaps I missed it, but did you answer the questions I asked?
1. Where is your plant: indoors, outdoors, in a greenhouse?
2. Is the tree in a pot or the ground?

As I mentioned previously, the dry curly leaves could be evidence of a cultural and/or environmental problem.

Or it could even be the after-effects of the soaps, oils, and whatever else you have applied.

If at all possible, please post photos.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2008 at 11:25PM
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Guess what JEAN>>>>>>>>>>>>>>!!!!!!!!! I thin k I finally found out the insects. Because no matter what I was told what they were, I didn't believe her either since I am not seeing any adults..SO look what I found everyone!!!!!!!Look at this site!!? Go http://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/IPM.asp?code=234&group=48&level=c........
I am still not sure...BUt sure looks like my problem.Think I will call around and bring leaves into a greenhouse with smarts since most in my area have no clue!!! Did u ever hear of these kinds of mites before? What do u think? LOLOL
Get back to me ok..Thank so much!!!! Have agreat day all ok.
What do u all think of this. These mites are not talked about to often and can they damage and are they hard to get rid of, beleive me. If I do not get rid of these buggers by the sunner, Every tree I own is going to be trashed..Thats all. I can't take this war anymore. It takes all the fun out of growing houseplants let alone Citrus.:-(

    Bookmark   January 9, 2008 at 8:37AM
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forgot to tell u to go to this site....http://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/IPM.asp?code=234&group=48&level=c........ Then go to serach pest images...Type in mites it will bring up a bunch of pictures of plants being attacked then click on the picture near the bottom of that page that says......Close up of criophyid mites (Acan) on privet. Looks just like what I have!!!! I wish I was sure though.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2008 at 9:15AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Eriophyid mites can be a real pain on citrus, but I don't know how common they are in your location. Have you recently purchased these plants?

    Bookmark   January 9, 2008 at 2:03PM
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Yes I bought like I said at a local greenhouse just about a month ago. Then I noticed all the brand new growth growing badly. I looked at them and then saw these bugs.
By the time I realized them I probably have them all opver my plnat room now. I can't wait till spring so I can rid them or the plants are in the trash.
Any suggestions!!! Rhizo or anyone else. Am I right about these bugs...Who knows!!!

    Bookmark   January 9, 2008 at 3:37PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Eriophyid mites are *not * your problem, and here's why:

1. Eriophyid mites are never large enough to be seen by the naked eye.
2. Nor are they active.
3. That is they don't run about.
4. Finally, they don't make entire leaves wilt.

Again, can you post pictures?

If not can you e-mail digital pictures to some of us willing to take a look at them?

If so, send some to me -- I'm gardenpt at aol.com

who has grown Meyer lemon in Portland, OR, both in a pot and in the ground;
and who formerly grew citrus outdoors in CA for 20-some years.
and who has never seen or heard of eriophyids on citrus -- Spider mites, yes. But not eriophyids.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2008 at 4:29PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Your 2nd thread for this topic is at

By your description there, the problem sounds more and more like aphids, critters which were suggested earlier on this thread.

Even though you washed them off, they "were still there" because some could be stuck in the nooks and crannies the water couldn't reach.

If possible, please send me some pictures.

Here is a link that might be useful: the other thread for this topic

    Bookmark   January 9, 2008 at 4:40PM
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I had a really bad infestation of aphids on my hybiscus tree when I first bought it. I had to cut off all the leaves and cover the whole thing in a clear plastic bag and drenched it insectide soap - I really mean drenched - there were puddles of the insectide soap and every day I would slosh the soap all over the plant and letting it go into the soil - i think it took about a month for all the aphids to go. I also kept in in the sunniest position in the house and this was during the winter.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 8:56PM
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HI...Jean........I disappeared for a while ..I will text you ok..Thnaks for the help in advanced!!:-)

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 9:51AM
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There BACK!!!.......I noticed all my new growth again curling up on all my trees,and noticed those suckers again. This time I threw 1/2 my trees out. less is best I guess. :-(..Very frustrating and to time consuming to rid of these stupid bugs. Maybe if I just have 4 trees instead of 20, I might find growing any plants alot more enjoyable...:-)

    Bookmark   February 8, 2008 at 10:00AM
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