Q. My citrus trees are suffering from something that causes the leaves to curl with squiggly lines. My poor trees are getting smaller each time I trim the diseased leaves off.
The best thing to do is nothing. Avoid pruning or removing the damaged leaves since the pest is gone by the time you notice the trails on the leaves.
The damage is caused by an insect called the citrus leafminer and causes only superficial damage, which won’t harm the tree, although you may get a little less of a harvest.
There are many natural enemies that attack this insect. If you don’t spray, they will take care of the leafminer. However, don’t expect entirely undamaged leaves.
Plants are designed to be able to tolerate leaf damage and even though your trees might look bad now, they will recover.
If you have a very young citrus tree and the leafminer damage is severe, you can use a soil-applied systemic insecticide that is registered for use on citrus and other edible plants. This product is available at hardware stores and garden centers. Be careful using this insecticide and follow the label. The label will also state when it’s safe to harvest any fruit that your tree may produce.
To learn more about the citrus leafminer and other south Florida pests, please visit this UF website: http://trec.ifas.ufl.edu/mannion/pests.shtml
Adrian Hunsberger is an entomologist/horticulturist with the UF/IFAS Miami-Dade Extension office. Write to Plant Clinic, 18710 SW 288th St., Homestead, FL 33030; e-mail email@example.com.