How to Protect Your Citrus Fruit From Pests

Many garden pests love citrus fruit. Some varieties eat and destroy the fruit itself while others suck the sap out of the trees, causing soft stems, unhealthy foliage and poor citrus fruit production. Fortunately, you can easily identify many common garden pests that attack citrus trees and take measures to prevent or eradicate them.

Step 1 – Practice Good Tree Hygiene

Some common pests are attracted by leaf litter and debris around citrus trees. But many more gain access to the tree more readily because the branches are low to the ground or touching the ground. Snails are common citrus fruit pests that gain access this way. They can chew leaves and fruit and do a surprising amount of damage. A sign of snails is the trail left behind that looks like a silver line where the snail has traveled around the trunk. The best pest control is to make sure there's no leaf litter around the tree, and to keep all low hanging branches pruned so that they don't touch the ground. A set of rings at the base of the trunk designed to form a physical barrier can prevent snails from traveling up the trunk.

Step 2 – Take Preventative Steps

Aphids are a common garden pest that damage citrus fruit trees, garden plants and houseplants alike. But aphids and many other pests can be prevented and controlled by spending a little time in early summer on maintenance. To prevent aphids and similar pests, spray citrus fruit trees with an insecticidal soap. This can prevent a severe infestation of aphids which can seriously damage trees and require poisonous insecticides to control later. Anytime aphids are found, as long as it's not a severe problem, a repeated spraying with insecticidal soap should get rid of them.

Step 3 – Look at Pesticide Options for Citrus Fruit

Some pesticides are poisonous and contain specific directions for their use. For instance, many instruct you not to use them when trees are flowering, and only at certain times during the growing season. There are organic options that offer good pest control too. Deciding which option to use has a great deal to do with the pest you're trying to prevent or eradicate, so read labels carefully.

Step 4 – Get to Know Your Citrus Fruit Tree

Examine your tree regularly. Turn the leaves over and note any changes. Feel the bark of the tree and notice the number of leaves that have fallen, if any, and any color changes or curling leaves. Many ants on your tree can signify a problem. While ants may not damage the tree, the honeydew that's drawing them there is likely excreted by sap-sucking insects.

Step 5 – Determine the Pest You Are Dealing With

If your tree shows signs of problems, then it's important to figure out what the problem is before treating it as some solutions don't work for some pests. Aphids cause leaf yellowing and puckering where they suck sap from the leaves. Citrus thrips cause curling leaves that start to look silver and cause citrus fruit to look scabby, while brown soft scale generally attaches to the bark and looks like irregularities in the trunk.

All of these require a different type of pest control product, so it's necessary to determine which pest is damaging your citrus fruit tree to avoid overusing potentially harmful pesticides.