Lemon affliction

Asked September 24, 2015, 7:37 PM EDT

These are leaves from a meyer lemon that a friend of mine from Picayune, MS has. It is a relatively old specimen that suffered during one of the last winter's freezes. It is recently suffering what appears to be insect damage, but I can decide what, specifically is causing it. Not only the leaves are affected, but all new growth. No insects can be found on the tree, except for some wonderful Giant Swallowtail Caterpillars. The damage is not due to chewing activity; more like sucking. Any ideas?

Pearl River County Mississippi

1 Response

Thank you for including the excellent images of the damage on your friend’s Meyer lemon tree. The pest responsible for the leaf disfigurement is the citrus leafminer, Phyllocnistis citrella. It’s a very small moth which lays eggs on new leaves. When the eggs hatch, the larvae (youngsters) bore into the leaves, then make meandering trails as the eat their way between the top and bottom layers of the leaf. Those shallow tunnels are the light-colored areas you see and are the reason the leaves become distorted.

“Citrus Leafminer” has an excellent overview with pictures: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/r107303211.html. Home gardeners can rely entirely on the cultural and physical methods described on that page.