Among the most cultivated fruit trees is the lemon tree. We can not only find them in large orchards and fields, but also in gardens or even in patios. It is very practical to have fresh lemons on hand to use in the kitchen. Of course, these vegetables, like all of them, can suffer from a series of pests and diseases that we must try to prevent or, in the worst case, treat. Among the most common pests is the lemon scale.
In this article we will explain what this insect is and how to eliminate the lemon mealybug through natural remedies. So if you are having problems with this bug, I recommend that you keep reading.
What is a cochineal?
Before explaining how to eliminate the mealybug from the lemon tree, we will first clarify what this bug is. Also known as scales, these tiny insects are sucking and They feed on the sap of plants. It is a pest that affects many different types of vegetables, especially trees and shrubs. When a plant is infested by mealybugs, it becomes covered in honeydew secreted by these bugs and sooty black mold is created in the affected areas.
As a consequence, the leaves turn yellow until they fall off prematurely. Also, some parts of the affected plant may become distorted or even die, depending on the type and number of mealybugs attacking it. The best way to protect our crops is to try to prevent a mealybug plague. For this, good care of vegetables is essential. It is also of great help to conserve and promote the appearance of the natural enemies of mealybugs. Another option we have is to apply low toxicity insecticides. It should be noted that the vast majority of vegetables tolerate low to moderate numbers of mealybugs.
But how do we know if our plants are being affected by this plague? Mealybugs are small, immobile insects whose movement is very slow. Their bodies are waxy, with no head or visible appendages. That is to say: They do not look much like other insects. As for their size, they usually measure less than a quarter of a thumb. Seeing them individually can be complicated, but we can observe visible symptoms on the affected plant. these little bugs they cause bumps on the bark, fruits and leaves, as well as discolorations that can be oval, circular or elongated.
Types of mealybugs
When trying to combat lemon scales, or any other vegetable, it is important that we know how to distinguish between two types: shield scales and soft scales. While both deal the same type of damage, Not all insecticides will be equally effective. For example, a fairly popular systemic insecticide is imidacloprid. It is capable of controlling most soft pill bugs, but not shield bugs. In addition, it can produce outbreaks of the cottony mealybug. However, in the store they will be able to advise which would be the best insecticide in each case.
Types of mealybugs
Regarding the type of mealybugs, the shield ones are smaller than the soft ones and have a flat shape. In addition, they have covers that can usually be removed from the rest of their body. This type of cochineal does not secrete honeydew. Among the best known species belonging to the shield are the California red mealybug and the San José mealybug.
In contrast, soft mealybugs are somewhat larger and rounder. Although it is true that these also have covers, these are convex and do not rise. It’s important to put attention on these really do secrete molasses. The most common species of soft mealybugs are the hache mealybug, the soft mealybug and the delta mealybug.
Natural remedies to eliminate the cochineal of the lemon tree
The cochineal species that most often affects citrus fruits, such as lemon or orange trees, is the ribbed cochineal. This pest is a real nightmare for farmers, as it is the plant equivalent of ticks. If our garden is not very large, there is the possibility of removing them by hand. But be careful: we should not throw them on the ground, it would not be very productive. They must be placed in a container and then thrown in the trash. Another option would be to spread the affected leaves with alcohol using soaked cotton.
In the event that the garden already has a considerable size, we will have to think of other solutions. Fortunately there are several natural remedies that we can apply if we do not want to use insecticides in our crops. Let’s list them below:
- Neem oil: The ideal use of this oil is to make the vegetable sap more bitter. To do this, we must apply Neem oil, or any other organic product that has the same effect, in quantities of three to five milliliters per liter of water once a month.
- Foliar treatment: Another option is to carry out a foliar treatment with any paraffin or vegetable oil. The doses are indicated on the product itself. For this we can also use Neem oil or potassium soap.
- Yellow sticky signs: Placing this type of trap will do us good, especially for males.
- Delete the most affected parts: Pruning the areas of vegetables that are most affected and burning them will greatly reduce the population of mealybugs. Thinning pruning is also a good idea so that the insects are more exposed to both the sun and the wind.
- Cleaning with pressurized water: This option is recommended to try if all the others have not worked.
Apart from these natural remedies to eliminate mealybugs from the lemon tree, there are some aspects that we must take into account and monitor so that they are more effective. For example, it is important make sure there aren’t too many ants “defending” the mealybugs. If that were the case, we would also have to fight the ants.
As we have already mentioned before, a good option is get or buy natural predators. These will help fight mealybugs and also prevent them. A good example for this would be the beetle Rhodolia cardinalis. This insect is very effective in eliminating mealybugs from the lemon tree.
With all this information, we are ready to deal with the pesky mealybugs on the lemon tree. You can tell us in the comments which remedy has worked best for you.