This week in Sac Pest Invasion we’ll be examining the recent spread of the Citrus Leafminer throughout the Sacramento area. This is the third pest in our series following the Japanese Beetle and Spotted Wing Drosophila and similar to these the Citrus Leafminer is a real menace to the local fruit farmers throughout Sacramento.
The citrus leafminer was first reported in Southern California in 2000 and has slowly moved up the state until finally landing in Northern California two years ago. Leafminers cause new growth on the tips of citrus trees to become distorted and curled, marking the leaves with serpentine tunneling cause by their larva burrowing inside as it feeds. All this damage is caused by a tiny moth, less than 1/4-inch long which lays its eggs on citrus trees. Unfortunately the moth is rarely ever seen and once its larva enters the leaf it is protected from most pesticides, making this pest especially difficult to eliminate.
Citrus leafminer damage can stunt the growth of young trees less than 4 years old, but otherwise the damage caused is mostly cosmetic. Adult trees are rarely killed by damage associated with leafminers and can continue to produce fruit with limited consequences.
If you have spotted leafminer damage on your citrus trees, don’t remove the disfigured leaves. The healthy parts of the leaf can still help the tree and pruning will only stimulate new groth that will be susceptible to more citrus leafminers. Heavy nitrogen feedings in summer and fall also promotes new growth and attracts more leafminers. Most pesticides won’t harm the minders inside the leaf, so applying after infestation will have little effect. If you do use a pesticide, be mindful that it will be applied to an edible crop and be sure to only use treatment applicable for future consumption.
The best course of action is to treat your trees and home with a long lasting pesticide in the winter just after harvest to kill any remaining moth larva and prevent future infestation when the moths return in the spring and summer to infest your crops again. If you suspect that you may have citrus leafminers present contact Fast Action Pest Control to schedule a free inspection for a quick response and fast results.