Have you got Citrus Leaf Miner? Meet CLEM.
This is the story of a crafty little insect - a tiny moth - Phyllocnistis citrella
We’ll call him CLEM for the sake of a good tale.
In 1995 Clem blew into Western Australia, from South East Asia. We know he wasn’t acting alone, he came with a little tribe, on a leaf, on a tree or, on some wild wind, however he got here, he, his family and friends liked the joint, and decided to stick around.
Fast forward to 2019 and Clem has made a big impression, or depression on the leaves of our beloved citrus trees, across Australia. Particularly in tropical or warm humid regions or appearing in zones when the weather suits his style. Hot and sticky.
Clem is tiny, about 2mm long and is visible in his moth form, early in the morning and at night.
The females lay their eggs into the leaf of the citrus and the easiest ones to pierce are the fresh new leaves. One female can lay up to 50 little Clem eggs.
Sometime between 3 and 10 days those little babies hatch out and begin munching, they are now little grubs, larvae, burrowing through the leaves leaving behind them, those silvery tell tale tracks, and twisty deformed leaves.
After about 5 days or so when they have munched up enough citrus leaf deliciousness, they snuggle down near the edge of a leaf, rolling it over like a blanket and off to sleep they go. Just like sleeping beauty, in a pupa, to awake after 6 days and emerge as a furry little moth, a new Clem has arrived and the story of Clem, the citrus leaf miner continues on and on, citrus leaf after citrus leaf.
Vigilance is the Key.
As soon as you see signs of leaf miner you must make a committed plan.
REMOVE AS MUCH OF THE DAMAGE as possible, by pruning.
Submerge your infested leaves in a bin of water for a couple of days, to drown off any sleeping beauties.
Then you need to spray, every two weeks, or even weekly if your tree is badly infested.
This regular spraying catches every stage of the development and is the best method, for ultimate control. You need to keep spraying right through to when the weather cools at the end of autumn.
What Spray do I use?
Be safe - for you and the environment. Neem Oil is brilliant, it’s super effective and has a lot extra special properties that you can explore at your leisure, however know that you are knocking off an introduced pest, protecting your’s and your neighbours citrus tree, and not causing harm by using Neem Oil.
Pest oil is also an effective spray.
Support your tree during this time with a little seaweed tonic or Charlie Carp. ( Charlie Carp is another brilliant way to revenge an annoying introduced species ) and it’s amazing for Citrus Trees.
Spray with Neem oil then give the tree a weak solution of Charlie carp, it’s like a jelly bean for the tree, for taking it’s medicine.
Your tree will flush out new leaves, older damaged leaves will stay scarred but they still work for the tree, so don’t worry, the leaf miner will have gone or died off.
Mid Summer through to Autumn is the worse time of the year for infestation and the hotter and more humid the weather the more prevalent the attacks become.
Here’s a little video to help you along.