Help with citrus tree problems

carquoteAugust 15, 2008

I have a lemon, lime, grapefruit and Satsuma Orange tree that I planted about 1 1/2 years ago. I'm having a problem with something eating the rind of the fruit and causing tears/holes in the leaves. I have seen white webbing on the leaves and my research leads me to believe I have Texas spider mites.I have read that mites are very hard to get rid of and that these mites are only a problem if there is a problem with the tree to begin with. I have read if you treat the problems causing the mites then they will not have the favorable conditions that allow hem to thrive.

I live in N/W Houston and water about once every 7-10 days very deeply filling up around the tree until the water is several inches high. The soil is basically clay so soil compaction may be a problem, but I'.m not sure what I can do about that now. When I planted them I used potting soil, but if the soil on the top layer is from the ground. I will try to get pictures of what the rind and leaves look like if that would be helpful.

I would prefer to keep the treatment as organic as possible since I plan on eating the fruit. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Other than using Kneem Oil and or Fish Emulsion, Toni has one of the best ways to rid of these critters and it works. She will see this thread soon and she will help you....Hope you do well

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 10:26AM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Whatever treatment is used always depends upon the pest at hand.

Perhaps a night-time check would help you determine that.

Further, if you can post a photo, we can be more specific in suggesting the potential culprit(s) at large.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 4:06PM
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bcfromfl(z8a NW FL)

Spider mites do not leave holes, and the webs are very difficult to see unless you get the angle of the light just so, or use a magnifying lens. If you have mites, the bottom side of the leaves will have a "salt and pepper" look to them, and they will be slightly dessicated. Also, by brushing your finger along the leaf you will see their tiny red bodies collected on your finger.

My suspicion is that you have Tiger Swallowtail caterpillars. I've seen the females lay their eggs on my citrus trees, and once you know what to look for, they are easy to spot and rub off. Either keep a vigilant eye out for damage and remove the caterpillar when it makes itself obvious, or they can be controlled with fruit tree sprays.


    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 5:52PM
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Thanks for the help. I forgot to mention that for some reason whatever these things are, they seem to be leaving my Mexican lime alone. The lime is planted in between my Meyer lemon and satsuma orange both of which have had their fruit severely damaged by these critters. One orange was so bad that the rind was split. Every other grapefruit, lemon and orange have severe rind damage and look horrible.

Do these Tiger Swallowtail caterpillars eat the rind? Also, how often should I be watering? The soil is basically clay and holds a lot of water, but when it is dry and very hot, which is typical, the water has a hard time penetrating the surface.

I will try to post some pics of the fruit and leaves tomorrow.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 12:40AM
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Hi Carquote. I've never heard of mites eating fruit, so I checked one of my Citrus books and sure enough one states: "Some feed on leaves, causing yellow and, in extreme cases, defoliation. Others attack the fruit, scarring or distoring it."

There's a few ways to test for mites. One is by general inspection. Mites build fine webbing, (much finer than a house spider.) Webbs are found under leaves, and in-between stems. Depending on infestation, webbing can be easy to difficult to spot. It's the mite itself, that is so tiny, they're considered microscopic.
Two, (this is a sure way to tell,) place a white sheet of paper under leaf/ves. While holding the sheet, tap leaf/ves over paper. Tap in different areas of tree.
Inspect sheet of paper. Depending on your sight and lighting, (you may need a magnifying glass) look for little spots..they move around. Let me warn you, mites are tiny. They come in various colors, red, yellow, green.

Mites are troublesome in hot dry climates. Trees stressed for water can add to the problem.
This applies to potted citrus, too..being inside a hot, stuffy dry room is a mite invitation.
Natural predators keep mites at bay, so avoid using harsh chemicals..These chemicals will kill natural predators.

In one book, it says: "Among the most damaging species is the rind-scarring citrus 'rust mite.' It's the main citrus pest in in FL, TX and an occassional problem in coastal CA."

Keeping foliage free of dust and watered properly is one way of keeping mites off our plants.
Though some people think it's a waste of time misting indoor plants, this is where I beg to differ. Showering works wonders, too.
For outdoor citrus, hosing foliage is a sure thing.
I, like you, do not use insecticides. I make my own organic pesticide using Water, 2-4 drops of dish soap (not Dawn) chopped citrus rind or juice, and finely chopped garlic or juice of garlic..A little Cayenne Pepper keeps mites and pets away from plants. (unless the pet happens to eat hot peppers, like birds.
Add all ingredients in a spray bottle.
Shake well.
Spray entire plant thoroughly, especially where webbing is found.
If you see webbing, you can wipe off with clean paper towel. Cut off sections of paper towel, so each piece is free of mites.

When mites munch off our plants, leaves turn mottled yellow. It's often confused with Chlorosis but the two are unrelated.
Good luck, Car..Try this concoction. If you'd rather not, there's always oils, which are supposed to be free of toxins. Good luck, Toni

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 7:10PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

If "eating the rind" means parts are missing, it's not mites. Mite-damaged citrus fruit is scarred, not eaten.

But could be slugs and/or snails.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 1:02AM
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I took some pics today but I don't see an option to post links. Can someone tell me how to post the pics I took. Thanks.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 1:15PM
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bcfromfl(z8a NW FL)

If you have the images hosted elsewhere, use the following tag:

img src="http://your url here"

enclosed with

I can't demonstrate the tag put together because the html will try to render it as a bad link.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 2:02PM
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OK, here are the pics.I saw white cocoon like webs on the lime that is strangely being left alone and not damaged by these insect(s). There are holes in many of the leaves and all my fruit, with the exception of the lime tree, is being damaged just like in the pics. I'm not sure if my problem is maybe multiple different insects.


    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 3:11PM
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Sorry about the pics. I just can't get them to post properly. If you right click them and select view image it will allow you to view it however.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 3:28PM
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bcfromfl(z8a NW FL)

I couldn't view all of them -- I think there might be an issue with sharing the images that you need to OK. Anyway...

Pic number one is just an ordinary spider's lunch, all wrapped up nice and neat. Nothing to worry about, and ambush-type spiders such as this are good to have on your trees.

The other photos I could see, seem to indicate citrus peelminer. Although I'm no expert, and have never seen this sort of damage before. Peelminer is not supposed to be common in Texas yet, but info on this pest is severely lacking. It can be controlled the same way that you control leaf miner, however, so that's the good news.

I have rarely seen a leaf miner trail on a fruit, but what you have can only be described as an infestation from something else.

The one photo I saw with a "hole" into the fruit I believe was caused by a second, opportunistic insect. The cracking from the peelminer (I'm hypothesizing, here) allowed another insect to smell something sweet and appealing inside, and it drilled the hole. Otherwise, if the peel was intact, it wouldn't allow entry.

Hopefully someone from the Houston area will chime in.


    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 3:48PM
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With respect bc I disagree on two counts. First that doesn't appear to be peelminer damage. Second peelminer cannot be controlled by the same method as leafminer. That damage sure looks odd and not something I have seen before. One question carquote. Have you had any big hailstorms? That is the closest thing it looks like.

Here is a link that might be useful: citrus fruit scarring pictures

    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 4:09PM
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No, nail hailstorms that I can recall. It has been like this since last year. I find it really strange that what ever this is, it's leaving my Mexican Lime alone! If I could find out what insect likes lemon, orange and grapefruit, but not lime I may be able to figure out what this is and treat it.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 4:35PM
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Make that...No, no hailstorms. I type too fast and rely on the edit feature that this board obviously doesn't have.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 5:14PM
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bcfromfl(z8a NW FL)

For citrus groves, the eulophid wasp is pretty effective in controlling peelminer. Since there are several wasp species in Florida that do the same for leaf miner, I imagine there would be some possible cross-parasitism. Unfortunately, cultivating wasps is out of the question for backyard hobbyists.

It's my opinion that the benefit of neem oil is more preventative, in keeping the adult form from even landing on a tree that's been sprayed. That because of the smell, more than anything else. There's probably a pesticidal benefit for insects the oil contacts as well, but when I spray, I'm not especially concerned with getting the oil on all parts of new flushes. This is why I think that neem will be an effect deterrent in both cases.

Peelminer adults lay eggs on the bottom sides of leaves (allowing them to be sheltered from large-scale pesticidal applications), but leaf miner behaves similarly. I can eliminate leaf miner by spraying the top sides of leaves. So, it stands to reason that the effects of neem oil would be similar for both moth species.

Moths have highly-developed senses of smell.


    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 7:55PM
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You have bird damage, starlings most likely. They especially like lemons and limes. They attack when they are green,quarter sized and will quit. Only way to prevent is to cover.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 9:54PM
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Thanks for all the help everyone! If it's bird damage and they especially like lemons and limes, why are my Mexican Limes not being damaged but my lemons are?

    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 10:21PM
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I finally figured out how to properly post the pics:

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 6:35PM
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Try searching the following sites for more info :

When I entered citrus rind damage into the search box , lots of items appeared . You can tailor the search to insect pests , fungus and scale . Your fruit appears to have more than one issue - fungal as well as insect damage complicated by drought . Good luck !

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 1:26PM
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look further into 'melanose'

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 3:05PM
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I have many white globs on my satsuma tree limbs and leaves. These globs are soft and appear to be egg sacs with tiny larva inside. Any idea what this is and what to spray? I had previously had white flies and sprayed for them and got them under control.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2010 at 3:32PM
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I something eating into my orange trees it looks like
termites or power beetle. Help what do I do.'

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 9:20PM
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Planted 3 dwarf citrus trees in a row in a sunny Bay area driveway. Blood orange quickly showed new growth and has begun to bear (small) fruit. Meyer lemon recovered from deer damage and new growth starting in year 2 with 2-3 fruit. Bearass Lime (my favorite) in between has no new growth in 2 years, 2-3 fruit first year. Leaves are dull and curled in at edges. Have fed, watered and added mineral supplements. No sign of insects. Puzzled... What's next to try and get this one to thrive?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2011 at 1:53PM
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