Growing your own food is so rewarding, but it can also be frustrating at times — you’re not the only one who wants to eat what you’re growing!
If you grow kumquats, at some point you’ll have to deal with kumquat pests and it’s important to know what action to take when you see them.
Kumquat is a type of citrus and is susceptible to all the same pests as other citrus trees, some of which can be devastating.
Use this guide to help you identify different kumquat pests, treat them, and hopefully prevent them in the future.
You Might Have Kumquat Pests If…
One of the main signs of kumquat pests is yellowing or browning, drooping, curling, and falling leaves or deformed fruit.
In most cases, you’ll also see leaves, twigs, or fruit that appear to have been chewed as pests eat away at them. You might spot small bumps or lesions under the leaves as well.
If you see small clusters of any kind on leaves, that’s definitely a red flag. The underside of leaves is a popular place for kumquat pests to lay eggs and more larvae to hang out and feed as they mature.
Keep a close eye out for any unusual webbing or other substances on the tree that don’t belong there. These may be signs that kumquat pests have infested your tree.
And, of course, if it looks like your tree just isn’t thriving as it should, this could be the result of pest damage or even disease introduced by pests.
Types of Kumquat Pests
There are many different types of kumquat pests that can attack your trees.
You need to be on the lookout to catch any pest problems as early as possible and prevent them whenever you can before they cause significant damage.
Many kumquat pests are either vectors for disease or can weaken the tree enough that it becomes susceptible to disease, so it’s important to be diligent.
Leaf miners is a name given to the larvae of several different types of insects, usually moths, sawflies, flies, and sometimes beetles.
They all do the same thing: eat the leaves of your kumquat tree.
How to Spot Signs of Leaf Miners
The most obvious sign of leaf miners is, as you might expect, leaf damage. There will also be scars in the form of little winding trails that are actually inside the leaf material, hence the name “miner”.
How to Treat Leaf Miners
It can be difficult to get rid of leaf miners with insecticides because they’re protected within the leaf, so you’ll need to do several rounds of treatment with insecticide soap.
How to Prevent Leaf Miners
Effective prevention is often achieved through trap crops, which are other plants kept nearby that will attract leaf miners so they don’t attack your kumquat trees. They can even help treat an existing infestation and draw leaf miners away from your tree. Good plants to use for this are lambsquarter and columbine.
Scale are tiny sap-sucking bugs that will consume the liquids in plants and destroy individual plant cells. Species include citrus scale, mealybugs, and armored scale among others.
They can become a vector for disease to set in once the tree is weakened. They also secrete honeydew, a sticky substance that can attract other pests.
How to Spot Signs of Scale
You may notice a white cotton-looking substance on your trees as a sign of a scale infestation.
How to Treat Scale
Scale can be treated by spraying and scrubbing the tree down thoroughly to remove the bugs and anything they leave behind.
How to Prevent Scale
These kumquat pests are attracted to moisture, so avoid overwatering or watering from above and wetting the entire tree. You should also prune adequately to allow airflow through the tree.
Like scale, aphids are sap-sucking insects.
You’ve probably heard of them before because they’re extremely common in a wide variety of plants.
Aphids can carry diseases and they secrete honeydew as well.
How to Spot Signs of Aphids
Signs of an aphid problem are yellowing, mottled, or curled leaves, stunted tree growth, and deformed fruit.
Aphids often don’t actually harm the plant significantly or at all, but they can become harmful if they get out of control.
How to Treat Aphids
Pesticides and spraying the tree down can also help remove aphids.
Ladybugs are famously good predators for aphids; you can purchase ladybugs to release and help you deal with these pests effectively.
Another of the most common kumquat pests are spider mites.
Spider mites attack the undersides of leaves and feed on plant cells.
How to Spot Signs of Spider Mites
If you start to see leaves turning yellow and brown and dropping prematurely as well as silk webbing on your kumquat tree, check for spider mites. They’re very small and difficult to see, but they’ll look like tiny moving dots.
A small population doesn’t pose much of a problem, but once they get established and grow in number they can cause a lot of damage.
How to Treat Spider Mites
General insecticides can lead to mite outbreaks once their natural predators have been removed by the poison, so it’s best to stick with water, oil, or soap sprayed on the plant to get rid of them.
Confirm that you have an infestation before treating; sometimes you’ll see signs and the mites are already gone.
How to Prevent Spider Mites
Water your kumquat tree properly, as spider mites are most dangerous for water-stressed plants.
More kumquat pests you might encounter are whiteflies.
Like many other kumquat pests, whiteflies are seeking moisture and will suck the sap and cell contents from leaves.
While they don’t always cause significant damage on their own, they secrete honeydew and can transmit diseases through their saliva.
How to Spot Signs of Whiteflies
Found on the underside of leaves, they look like very small white moths.
How to Treat Whiteflies
Whiteflies quickly develop resistance to chemical treatments that can kill off natural predators, so pesticides aren’t always the way to go; insecticidal soap is a better way to get rid of them.
It’s also beneficial to establish populations of lacewings and ladybugs, which both prey on whiteflies and can help keep them under control.
Citrus thrips are small orange-yellow insects with wings, though they aren’t very skilled fliers. These kumquat pests are yet another sap-sucking insect, and they can also transmit viruses that lead to diseased trees.
Citrus thrips can be helpful predators of other pests, but many species don’t have their own predators to keep them in check.
Severe infestations can even lead to thrips in your home!
How to Spot Signs of Citrus Thrips
The main indicator of citrus thrips is curled and deformed leaves.
How to Treat Citrus Thrips
Eggs are laid inside plant matter, so treatment is difficult and requires multiple rounds. They can also become resistant to pesticides, so opt for insecticidal soap in your treatments.
It’s a good idea to treat your trees regularly to prevent damage and keep thrips off your kumquat trees.
A voracious and very common pest in gardens that you’re likely to see at some point is the Japanese beetle.
These innocent-looking bugs will devour almost anything and are notorious for destroying crops of all kinds.
How to Spot Signs of Japanese Beetles
You’ll notice physical damage to leaves and flower petals from the top of the tree down until only the leaf skeleton remains. Beetles are very easy to spot with the naked eye, unlike other common kumquat pests.
How to Treat Japanese Beetles
Japanese beetles can be treated with spray pesticides, and you can also destroy any you find right then and there under your shoe.
How to Prevent Japanese Beetles
Prevent them as much as possible by planting trap crops to distract them. There are also pesticides that you can add to the soil that kills the grubs before they mature into beetles.
More on Treating Kumquat Pests
Get to work quickly! Usually by the time you see the signs, kumquat pests are well-established or have attracted other pests that follow behind.
For almost any type of pest, spray the tree down with water and dish soap. Then scrub with a cloth or small brush on all surfaces, including the undersides of leaves and crooks of branches, to remove pests and any other substances. Insecticidal soaps are also a great option for this.
Dispose of deformed fruits or any that are overripe that might be attracting more pests as well as rotting fruit on the ground around the tree.
Pesticides should be rotated to help avoid resistance or killing off predatory bugs that keep other pests at bay naturally. One mainstay in your gardening kit should be neem oil or other horticultural oils, which are effective against many different kumquat pests.
It’s always best to use multiple treatment methods to fully eradicate kumquat pests.
General Kumquat Pest Prevention
Monitor your kumquat tree by regularly checking branches, leaves (both sides!), trunk, roots, and surrounding soil for signs of kumquat pests.
Plant repellant crops or trap crops as a general practice to manage pests.
You can wrap tape sticky-side out around a section of the trunk to catch pests making their way up the tree. Replace the tape if it catches enough bugs that new pests can climb right over it without getting stuck.
Just be aware that sticky traps don’t discriminate between kumquat pests and non-threatening bugs and wildlife. Check traps daily and assist any unintended victims as soon as possible.
Avoid planting kumquat trees next to taller structures like walls, fences, or other plants that can help pests get to the tree. Be diligent about keeping grasses and weeds down around the tree as well.
Just like treating existing kumquat pests, using different prevention methods together is the best way to protect your trees.
Don’t Let Kumquat Pests Destroy Your Trees!
Kumquat pests can be challenging (and honestly, pretty gross), but using preventative measures and keeping a close eye on your kumquat trees can help you avoid major issues.
If you do need to treat, be very thorough so you can be confident you got rid of everything that wants to damage your kumquat tree.
There’s so much more to learn about growing and enjoying kumquats, so be sure to visit our Kumquats page!