If you’ve taken on the challenge of growing your own grapefruits, there’s only one thing that can stand in the way of you and these tasty, tart citrus fruits—grapefruit tree pests.
Rather than letting these pesky insects spoil your crop, keep reading to learn about the 11 types of grapefruit tree pests you need to look out for and how to keep them away from your fruit!
1. Citrus Leaf Miners
These 1/8-inch, light brown moths like to snack on the foliage of young grapefruit trees and other citrus plants alike. Female leaf miners typically lay single eggs on the underside of leaves, and once hatched, these tiny larvae join in on the feed!
How to Spot a Citrus Leaf Miner Infestation
As their name suggests, citrus leaf miners like to chew on and burrow through grapefruit tree foliage—leaving plenty of small holes and winding silver tunnels behind. Any infected leaves will usually dry out, curl up, and appear distorted.
How to Get Rid of Citrus Leaf Miners
Parasitic wasps and horticultural oils are often used to help control leaf miner populations. If you suspect an infestation by these grapefruit pests, prune your plants and remove the damaged foliage!
Thrips are tiny, flea-like insects that cause damage to both fruit and citrus foliage alike. Kelly’s citrus thrips and greenhouse thrips, specifically, are two species whose snacks of choice are grapefruits and other citrus fruits.
How to Spot a Thrip Infestation
Adult thrips measure roughly 2mm long, making them somewhat difficult to spot. Depending on the species of thrip, insects may leave their signature “halo” ring scarring around the fruit, pale streaking across foliage, or shriveled leaves.
How to Get Rid of Thrips
While some of the damage caused by thrips is purely cosmetic, you can keep natural parasites and predators around to help with insect control. For a severe infestation, certain horticultural oils and soaps can be effective against these grapefruit pests.
There are a variety of mites that like to feed on tasty grapefruits and their foliage, including citrus red mites, citrus bud mites, and two-spotted spider mites. Most adult mites grow to roughly 1mm long, making them incredibly difficult to spot.
How to Spot a Mite Infestation
Because these tick-like arachnids are barely visible to the naked eye, you’re unlikely to catch them in the act. Instead, you’ll need to keep an eye out for symptoms of infestations by this grapefruit tree pest —deformed fruit, distorted stems, and loss of leaves.
How to Get Rid of Mites
Most species of mites prefer to attack young or undernourished plants, so it’s important that you watch over your saplings and keep your grapefruit trees in great condition. To eliminate mites, you can use horticultural oils and certain insecticides.
4. Scale Insects
There are over a dozen species of scale insects that are known to feast on citrus fruit—including black scale, brown soft scale, California red scale, and citricolla scale. While young scale insects are quite mobile, adult scale insects permanently attach to otherwise healthy citrus trees, leaves, and fruits.
How to Spot a Scale Insect Infestation
To the untrained eye, the seemingly legless and headless appearance of scale insects might cause them to go unnoticed. They do, however, leave trails of sticky substance and scales across leaves and branches. They can also cause deformed fruit and stems!
How to Get Rid of Scale Insects
Scale insects respond to certain horticultural oils and insecticides. Additionally, you can manage these grapefruit pests by encouraging their natural predators—including parasitic wasps and certain species of ladybugs.
5. Asian Citrus Psyllids
The Asian citrus psyllid is a slender, brown, sap-sucking insect that appears throughout the United States. As one of the more damaging grapefruit tree pests, the Asian citrus psyllid is known to carry citrus greening disease—an incurable bacterium that quickly spreads from tree to tree.
How to Spot an Asian Citrus Psyllid Infestation
Since these aphidlike psyllids like to prey on young grapefruit trees, you may observe curling or notching of relatively new foliage. A telltale sign of an Asian citrus psyllid infestation is the trails of waxy filament that these grapefruit pests leave in their wake!
How to Get Rid of Asian Citrus Psyllids
Because Asian citrus psyllid infestations are difficult to control, it’s critical that you inspect your grapefruit trees regularly. If you spot an infestation, apply insecticidal soaps and set up psyllid traps!
The apple weevil, fullers rose weevil, and garden weevil are three of the more common species that cause damage to citrus trees. Because of their presence above and below ground, these beetle-like grapefruit pests are difficult to control.
How to Spot a Weevil Infestation
As some species of weevils grow to roughly 3/4-inch long, these bugs are relatively easy to spot. While there are certain weevils that feed on fruit, most take a liking to roots and foliage—affecting young plants and notching leaves in their paths.
How to Get Rid of Weevils
Because weevils are known to terrorize both plants and their root systems, it’s important that you care for your grapefruit trees and soil alike. Chemical and mulch treatments can stop soil-dwelling larvae in their tracks.
7. Orange Dog Caterpillars
Before transforming into the beautiful giant swallowtail butterfly, the orange dog caterpillar is one of the most troublesome grapefruit tree pests. From the moment when adult butterflies lay eggs, these larvae start wreaking havoc on foliage.
How to Spot an Orange Dog Caterpillar Infestation
Despite growing to 1–2 inches long, the caterpillar’s blotchy white-and-brown appearance is often mistaken for bird droppings. These grapefruit tree pests are fierce chewers, however, and can defoliate entire trees.
How to Get Rid of Orange Dog Caterpillars
Because these caterpillars are so large, you can often handpick them from your grapefruit tree leaves. For heavy infestations, you can spray insecticide products that contain spinosad or bacillus thuringiensis—both naturally occurring bacteria.
The citrus whitefly, specifically, is a backyard pest of citrus plants that enjoys snacking on the new foliage. By its adult stage, this white, moth-like insect grows to roughly 1/8-inch long and is equipped with two pairs of wax-covered wings.
How to Spot a Whitefly Infestation
These tiny insects are most often spotted on the underside of leaves. The tracks of honeydew and dark-colored sooty mold that they leave behind should tip you off to their presence!
How to Get Rid of Whiteflies
The suggested treatment for whitefly infestations is to apply insecticides and horticultural oils. You can also reduce large populations of this grapefruit pest by encouraging the whitefly’s natural predators—including ladybugs, beetles, and lacewings!
The seemingly harmless snail likes to snack on nearly every part of the grapefruit tree. Because of this, large infestations of these slow-moving pests can do a surprising amount of damage to your trees!
How to Spot a Snail Infestation
Due to their large size and distinct appearance, snails are fairly conspicuous. It’s important that you inspect all areas of your grapefruit trees, however, as they can be found feasting on your fruit, leaves, branches, and bark!
How to Get Rid of Snails
While it may be tempting to leave these common pests alone, you should handpick snails (or lay traps) and remove them from the area. Furthermore, prune your grapefruit trees regularly and remove any fallen fruit or foliage from your garden!
The aphid is one of the more serious threats to your grapefruit trees, largely due to how quickly this pest is able to reproduce and populate your garden. The black citrus aphid, in particular, is known to frustrate crop owners throughout the southern United States.
How to Spot as Aphid Infestation
As these tiny, stealthy insects prefer to feast on new growth, pay special attention to your young saplings. Keep an eye out for leaves that have cupped, curled, twisted, or fallen!
How to Get Rid of Aphids
Because aphids reproduce so rapidly, it’s critical that you take action as soon as you suspect aphid outbreaks. Apply an insecticidal soap to all areas of your trees—treating both sides of leaves and their branches!
11. Citrus Mealybugs
The citrus mealybug is an oval-shaped insect that attacks fruit, feeds on stems, and sucks plant sap from grapefruit trees and other citrus plants alike. When fully mature, these tiny grapefruit pests measure roughly 1/8-inch long and their waxy coats make them easily identifiable!
How to Spot a Citrus Mealybug Infestation
Once the mealybug sucks sap from leaves, you’ll notice leaf discoloration, the plant will wilt, fruit development will be stunted. What’s more, mealybugs leave trails of sticky honeydew and wax behind as they trek from one leaf to the next!
How to Get Rid of Citrus Mealybugs
Allowing ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps to run rampant throughout your garden can help keep citrus mealybugs at bay. You can also apply horticultural oil sprays to the leaves of citrus trees and their branches!
Finally, Wave Those Grapefruit Tree Pests Goodbye
Tired of insects interfering with your grapefruit trees? Get rid of these pests and prevent them from coming back using some of the methods mentioned above!
What have you done in the past to get rid of grapefruit tree pests? We’d love you to share with us in the comment section below!
Want to learn more about grapefruits? Next, visit our grapefruit trees page to learn all about this big citrus: planting, growing, caring, cooking, and more!
- About the Author
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Ben Morgan is a husband, father, and writer for Apple Pie Media. He grew up in Tasmania, Australia, a largely rural territory that has earned the nickname, “The Apple Isle,” for its many apple orchards. Some of Ben’s fondest memories include family trips to one of many local orchards, where he would enjoy plucking and eating fresh fruits with his younger siblings.
Today, Ben, his wife, and daughter love to visit their local South Carolina farmers market on the weekends. After discovering a new variety of fruit or veggie, he looks forward to sitting down at his computer to share his knowledge and experiences with other aspiring green thumbs.