Citrus leaf miner: characteristics and how to treat it

signs of citrus leafminer

As we know, pests and diseases can attack any of the crops we have in our orchard or garden. One of the pests that can most attack citrus fruits is citrus leafminer. It is also known by the name of leaf miner or lemon tree miner. Its scientific name is Phyllocnistis citrella. It is a micro moth whose larva parasites the leaves of citrus fruits. It has a relatively difficult control, so we are going to teach what are the best tips to eliminate them.

In this article, we are going to tell you everything you need to know about the citrus leaf miner, its life cycle and what are the best tips to kill them.

Key features

mining worm


It is a relatively difficult pest to control because by its nature it is difficult to attack the larvae as they feed on leaves within the galleries it creates. It is one of the most common pests that attack citrus and, therefore, one of the most feared, since it can severely damage citrus by feeding on the juice and not allowing them to produce new shoots, leaves or fruits. In Spain, In 1993 it caused one of the worst plagues that the country has suffered due to the planting of these fruit trees.

The adult female of this insect is a gray or silver moth about half a centimeter long. It lays eggs on the shoots during plant formation, and when the eggs hatch, tiny larvae enter the underside of the leaves.

The eggs are transparent and difficult to see with the naked eye, so pests are easily identified by the galleries and the thread of defecation that the larvae leave on the leaves while feeding. When it grows large enough, it forms a pupa near the outside of the leaf and causes the leaf to fold over the pupa. After a few days, the adults emerge, ready to start the citrus miner life cycle again.

If the pests weren’t too aggressive, the citrus miners would probably get an all-natural treatment, since these insects have their own natural enemies. However, if it is a serious pest, we will have to take measures to avoid further damage to the crop.

Phenological cycle of the citrus leaf miner

citrus pests

citrus pests

In spring, females only lie on the most tender citrus leaves. Within a few days, the eggs hatch and the larvae penetrate the interior of the leaf and begin to destroy it. All larval development takes place inside the leaf, ending up pupating in the room that it had prepared before.

For generations their maximum numbers coincide with the germination of citrus fruitswith the largest populations in summer and autumn. With the arrival of the cold, germination stops, females cannot lay eggs, and the number of miners plummets. When spring comes, the tree will sprout again and a large population will begin to reproduce, but major damage will not begin until late spring.

The mine is sinuous and transparent, exposing a row of excrement. Several larvae can coexist on the same leaf. The leaves undergo strong curling. The rolled leaves can act as a refuge for other pests.

Of the three sprouts of a citrus fruit, the spring one is the most important, since it is when most of the leaves are formed. Right now, the miners have just come out of winter and the population is very sparse, so the loss is negligible and it does not affect the first germination. Therefore, in an adult tree, the damage caused by this insect is not critical, unlike in a young plantation, where the normal growth of the plant is reduced.

Citrus leaf worm treatments

citrus leafminer

citrus leafminer

Once we know what the characteristics of the life cycle of the citrus leaf miner are, we are going to list the different effective treatments for this pest.

Neem oil

Neem or Nim oil It is one of the most widely used natural and ecological insecticides for the treatment of various pests. One of its main advantages is that it has a long persistence in the factory, about 3 weeks, so in addition to eliminating miners, it will also prevent attacks from other suckers. Dilute 3 to 5 milliliters per liter of water, then use it to water the plants.

Natural predators

In the case of large crops, the biological control of citrus miners is an excellent option. You can use lacewing or wasp Diglyphus isaea. Anyway, these are effective but expensive treatments that are rarely used for small crops or gardens. Is also Bacillus thuringiensis, a bacterium that feeds on caterpillars or larvae.

The common mosquito (Phylloscopus collybita) is another example of a predator, although we mention it individually because it is a bird, not other insects or bacteria. This little bird feeds on the larvae of citrus minerswho knows how to extract from the leaves without problem, since it is one of his favorite delicacies.

Potassium soap and pepper

Potassium soap is another ecological insecticide widely used to control various pests because it is not toxicit is biodegradable and harmless. Using potassium soap for citrus leaf worm is no different than using it on any other pest.

  1. Dilute with water to a concentration of 1% to 2%.
  2. Spray all over the plant, paying special attention to the underside of the leaves.
  3. Use once a week for a month, at dawn or dusk, if possible, protected from wind and rain.

Pepper is another great citrus mining remedy. Here’s how to make lemon miner peppers and other citrus fruits:

  1. Put some black pepper seeds in a saucepan and cook for about 20 minutesuntil it dissolves completely.
  2. Make sure your kitchen is well ventilated when doing this, and filter it after it cools.
  3. Spray the infusion on the affected foliage with a spray.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about the citrus leaf miner and how to kill them.

Citrus leaf miner: characteristics and how to treat it

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