Lemon trees like the Meyers Lemon are beautiful little evergreens that add interest to any space, either in a pot or planted into the soil. Their structure and fine green leaves are a bonus to the pretty and nutritious yellow fruit they yield.
When tiny insects come along that threaten your lemon tree, you’ll want to wipe them out as quickly as possible.
Here’s how to get rid of pesky pests like aphids on lemon trees before they cause irreparable damage.
What Are Aphids?
An aphid is a small, soft-bodied insect with wings. They consume nutrients by finding a plant of their choice and piercing its mature leaves and stems with their mouthparts.
They then suck sap and plant juices from the plant, the excessive removal of which causes harm.
Females also lay hundreds of eggs on the underside of the leaf surface, which hatch into crawlers and then turn into nymphs. These nymphs begin to feed.
You may easily notice them clinging to leaf veins in small dense clusters.
They are best identified by their two long tailpipes, called cornicles, at the end of their abdomen. They vary in color, ranging from green, black, red, gray, brown, to yellow.
How Do Aphids Cause Damage To Lemon Trees?
One of the most serious citrus pests is the Black citrus aphid, also known as the brown citrus aphids.
Aphids are more threatening to younger citrus trees as opposed to mature ones. The developing stages of a lemon tree, such as the formation of young leaves or unopened flower buds, attract these insects for feeding.
The sap removal can cause leaves to be yellow and wither.
After consuming sap, aphids can secrete a waste substance called “honeydew.” It is the potential breeding ground for a type of fungus called sooty mold.
The “sooty mould” part describes how it, and whatever it rests on, turns black.
If an aphid transmits a virus through its mouth as it eats, the lemon tree leaves may also develop holes that decrease its beauty and life energy.
The honeydew they secrete also attracts ants as they like to feed on it. This can cause extra damage.
Aphids do not pursue the fruit of a lemon tree or citrus tree, but their damage elsewhere can hinder the tree’s growth.
How To Control Aphid Populations
The best defense against these miniature militias is proper prevention of their infestation in the first place.
Check the undersides of leaves of your lemon trees regularly for the start of an infestation. Sometimes removing them by hand or pruning is enough.
If an aphid infestation takes off, you may find your lemon tree in more extreme need of help.
Water can remove aphids if it hits them with enough pressure. A soak from your garden hose or a formidable downpour of rain can be enough to knock these insects off of leaves.
Another method is to encourage natural predators, such as ladybugs, parasitic wasps, and spiders.
Planting or placing flowers near your lemon tree that attract aphid predators will help the hunters find their prey and do the dirty work for you.
Applying certain oils, such as neem oil or jojoba, to the leaves can also help. The oils suffocate the aphids or disturb their membranes. If it doesn’t kill them, it will irritate them to the point of leaving.
More on Citrus Tree Care
Chemical pesticides are not recommended, but you may consider them if your lemon tree is under attack.
Although chemical pesticides are an option, they often aren’t necessary. Natural predators usually keep aphids in check before ruining your plant.
If you use a chemical pesticide, avoid treating your plant while it’s in bloom.
Aphicides and horticultural spray oils exist for the treatment of aphids. It’s essential to check the labels of any products you use on your tree, as not all sprays and treatments are correct for use on citrus plants.
Natural treatments like insecticidal soap are generally preferred for lemon trees. Aside from aphids, this treatment effectively kills other insect pests, including citrus leafminer, mealybugs, spider mites, thrips, and whiteflies.
However, avoid injecting the fruit with anything toxic.
If your lemon tree is ornamental, apply systemic pesticides, such as imidacloprid or dinotefuran, to the tree’s base.
The roots absorb the chemical and dispense it throughout the tree. Upon consuming the treated leaves, the aphids die.
The good news is that aphids often don’t cause enough harm that you need to go to extreme measures. Natural predators usually keep a full-on infestation at bay and save your tree.
Avoid chemicals that can make the fruit toxic.
If you must treat your lemon tree, veer towards natural treatments such as oils. Monitoring aphids on lemon trees early on will keep the chances of infestation down and allow your tree to be fully productive and flourish.