Possible spider mites on lemon tree

coderjzeSeptember 8, 2011

Hi there, I have an extremely cold-hardy lemon tree in my apartment that I received about a week ago.

Yesterday, I noticed a few fine webs and some tiny black dots on the undersides of the leaves, and I figured I had spider mites. Since then, I've been spritzing the tree every few hours with a solution of around 50% water, 50% rubbing alcohol, a couple of drops of liquid hand soap and a few drops of tea tree oil. Neem oil is coming in a few days.

I still think they are spider mites, but I can't identify them; they appear to be just tiny single black dots, like individual specks of pepper. At the moment there are only a few of them, maybe 2 on every other leaf, and they almost seem immobile when I've watched them.

I was wondering 2 things: 1, could these be some other kind of insect? I haven't seen any noticeable leaf damage yet, but will post if I notice anything. And 2: are there any other measures I can take to eliminate the little bastards, whatever kind of pest they are?

Thanks!

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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Definitely sounds like spider mites. Hose down the tree really well every day, focusing on the undersides of the leaves using a strong stream. And then spray as you've been doing, just take care not to spray any soapy solution or oils on days that you'll be having temps over 85 degrees, to avoid burning the leaves. Seems to be the year for spider mites, sigh. I am having some issues at my place on a Star Jasmine (the culprit - was sick when I brought it home from the nursery), which has spread to my two junipers (particularly susceptible), and I just noticed one of my citrus - my new Oro Blanco grapefruit - all have spider mites. Very frustrated as I cannot spray right now, since our temps have been over 90. As far as seeing damage, it can be very subtle. Are the tops of your leaves looking faintly speckled? That's usually the first sign of spider mites.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 6:26PM
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coderjze

Some of the leaves appear to be slightly speckled. Unfortunately I'm in an apartment, so I can't exactly hose it off very well, but I suppose I can use a detachable shower head.

Thanks for the advice, hope your plants recover!

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 6:37PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Do NOT overdo it with all of those remedies. You could end up solving whatever the problem is by causing all the leaves to fall off. I'm also a bit concerned about mixing all of those things together!

I'll suggest that you cover the soil with a layer of foil or plastic wrap and put your plant into the tub (or sink) where you can rinse it really thoroughly, using your fingers to gently rub anything that might be lingering on the underside of the leaves.

Let's remember that we really don't know for certain what the problem might be....or if there even is a problem. Why not run to the grocery store or pharmacy and pick up a cheapo magnifying glass so that you can have a better look at these little black specks.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 10:49PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Actually, rhizo, that's the organic treatment mix for red spider mites :-) Good to use, just need to be careful not to apply during high temps, as with any hort oil, as you can can leaf burn. Code, drag the tree into the shower and hose it off. Do this about once a week, then follow with your spray. Try to make sure your temps are below 85 degrees when you spray, and provide indirect light after you spray. Good to do in the evening. Checking with a magnifying glass is always a good thing to be sure, but if you're seeing teeny webs and leave speckling or stippling, that's about a 100% diagnosis of spider mites. Nothing else I know produces those symptoms.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 11:21AM
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