Are you tired of orange tree pests meddling with your juicy citrus fruit? Unfortunately, there are a wide variety of critters that can ruin your crop when neglected.
But not to fear—with a little know-how, you can combat these pesky bugs. Here are some of the most common orange tree pests and the best methods for eliminating them!
1. Scale Insects
A variety of scale insect species feed on orange trees—including the Florida red, California red, and citrus snow scale. Don’t be fooled by this armored pest’s microscopic size. These orange tree pests present some of the greatest threats to your trees.
How to Spot a Scale Insect Infestation
Due to its size, you’re unlikely to spot a single scale insect on one of your orange trees. You may, however, notice trails of red or white bumps along your tree limbs. Extensive foliage damage, fruit drop, and stunted tree growth are other common signs of a scale infestation.
How to Get Rid of Scale Insects
There are two main ways to control scale insect populations. The first is to apply horticultural oil sprays on your trees and foliage. The second is to encourage the pest’s natural predators—including parasitic wasps, ladybugs, and lacewings.
As their name suggest, whiteflies are bright, winged insects that are attracted to orange trees and their delicious fruit. While adult whiteflies like to perch and their lay eggs on leaves, their young larvae do most of the damage. Shortly after spawning, these tiny critters will puncture leaves and suck their juices.
How to Spot a Whitefly Infestation
Keep an eye out for the trails of sticky honeydew that whiteflies leave behind. With time, this honeydew often develops into black sooty mold. Shaking your orange tree branches may also cause whiteflies to reveal themselves and scatter.
How to Get Rid of Whiteflies
To deal with these orange tree pests, handpick whiteflies from your leaves or gently spray your leaves down with water. For large infestations, apply a natural pesticide—such as neem oil—or a combination of water and dish soap.
3. Citrus Leaf Miners
These tiny moths grow to roughly 1/8-inch long and lay small eggs on the underside of leaves. While nymphs may forge mines through leaf tissue, most of the damage they cause is purely cosmetic. For the most part, citrus leaf miners are not a major threat to your orange trees.
How to Spot a Citrus Leaf Miner Infestation
While you’re unlikely to spot microscopic larvae, you may be able to spot full-grown moths on your leaves. The most common signs of a citrus leaf miner infestation are silver tunnels, curled leaves, and generally distorted leaf growth.
How to Get Rid of Citrus Leaf Miners
The best way to control these orange tree pests is to encourage their natural predators, parasitic wasps. You may also spray orange tree foliage with a horticultural oil. Be sure to keep any damaged leaves well-pruned.
4. Asian Citrus Psyllids
Asian citrus psyllids are a significant threat to orange trees, largely due to the citrus greening disease (Huanglongbing) they transmit. These orange tree pests like to pierce foliage, suck sap from them, and leave toxins behind.
How to Spot an Asian Citrus Psyllid Infestation
The most common sign of an Asian citrus psyllid infestation is underdeveloped and bumpy foliage. When infected by citrus greening disease, your fruit may partially turn a shade of green. Additionally, shoots and foliage may turn yellow.
How to Get Rid of Asian Citrus Psyllids
As there is no known cure for citrus greening disease, prevention is key. Frequent application of certain organic pesticides may keep these orange tree pests away. Parasitic wasps may also be deployed to help control Asian citrus psyllid populations.
The citrus red mite, spider mite, and rust mite are all common orange tree pests. These miniature arachnids primarily feed on leaf tissue, sapping your foliage of their nutrients in the process.
How to Spot a Mite Infestation
As mites target foliage, the easiest way to spot a mite infestation is to observe the state of the leaves. Infected leaves are typically marked by stippling and discoloration. Web structures between shoots and limbs is a sign of spider mite infestations, specifically.
How to Get Rid of Mites
Horticultural oils and insecticidal soaps are the most effective options for controlling mite populations. You can also help prevent mite infestations by keeping your orange trees properly hydrated.
Citrus mealybugs are small, oval-shaped orange tree pests that may attempt to hide among stems, foliage, and tree bark. Related to the scale insect family, these slow-moving bugs are largely immobile and may be mistaken for miniature cotton balls.
How to Spot a Mealybug Infestation
The mealybug’s pink or white waxy appearance tends to stand out against green foliage. Like whiteflies, mealybugs also leave trails of honeydew in their wake. The most common sign of a mealybug infestation is infected leaves that may become distorted or fall from your trees.
How to Get Rid of Mealybugs
Pesticides are often used to get rid of citrus mealybugs. People have also found success with 70% isopropyl alcohol. Simply apply the alcohol to a cotton ball and gently dab these orange tree pests to exterminate them.
While you might be accustomed to seeing snails and slugs around your soil, they are also common orange tree pests. These slimy creatures will climb your orange trees, feed on both fruit and foliage, and leave trails of mucous behind.
How to Spot a Snail Infestation
Fortunately, most adult snails are easy to spot due to their relatively large size and distinct appearance. When assessing your trees for damage, keep an eye out for large chew holes in tree foliage and fruit. Fruit scarring may also occur.
How to Get Rid of Snails
When dealing with an infestation, handpick snails from your trees. Be sure to remove any dead leaves and keep your orange tree branches well-pruned. Setting up traps and creating barriers between your soil and your trees will also stop snails from climbing.
While many species of aphids are considered orange tree pests, the black citrus aphid is perhaps the most common. Because of its short legs, dark body, and bulbous abdomen, it is often mistaken for a tick. The disease this insect carries and the rate at which it reproduces makes it a serious threat to your oranges.
How to Spot an Aphid Infestation
Small aphid infestations may be difficult to spot, but large infestations may be identified on the underside of leaves. These orange tree pests will often cause leaf curling and discoloration. What’s more, the sticky substance they leave behind will often attract ants and other pests.
How to Get Rid of Aphids
Because aphids reproduce at a rapid rate, it’s critical that you take swift action. Fortunately, aphids often respond well to horticultural oils and insecticidal soaps. What’s more, they have many natural predators—including lacewings, midges, and certain beetles.
While ants are very common and seemingly harmless, they may be the catalyst for other infestations. In fact, ants will often use their immense strength to carry other orange tree pests up your orange trees. They are also attracted to the honeydew and sooty mold that whiteflies, mealybugs, and aphids leave behind.
How to Spot an Ant Infestation
Most of the time, ants travel in large colonies—making infestations relatively easy to spot. While ants primarily munch on foliage, they may also feed on honeydew and exposed fruit. Keep an eye out for chewed leaves and leaf drop.
How to Get Rid of Ants
One way to keep ants at bay is to prune your orange trees lower than you typically would. Setting ant traps can help control ant populations, while spraying leaves with a water-and-vinegar combination may also keep them away.
While thrips may target a variety of trees, they prefer citrus trees. Citrus thrips, specifically, are small, slender, yellowish-orange insects that resemble miniature crickets. They lay their eggs in leaf tissue, which overwinter and hatch during early spring.
How to Spot a Thrip Infestation
Measuring roughly two millimeters long at full maturity, thrips are very difficult to spot outside of large infestations. These orange tree pests feast on fruit buds, however, and leave their signature “halo” scarring behind.
How to Get Rid of Thrips
Because citrus thrips take advantage of vulnerable or malnourished orange trees, it’s important that you keep your trees properly hydrated. As thrips are able to build up tolerance to certain insecticides, try using pyrethrin or a horticultural soap instead.
11. Lightbrown Apple Moths
Despite its name, the lightbrown apple moth is one of the more common orange tree pests. Larvae present the greatest threat to orange trees, as these small caterpillars will tunnel into fruit and destroy leaf tissue.
How to Spot a Lightbrown Apple Moth Infestation
Unfortunately, the caterpillar’s translucent green color allows it to blend in seamlessly with plant foliage. You may, however, be able to spot the silky web structures its constructs to protect itself. Otherwise, be on the lookout for damaged leaves and holes in fruit.
How to Get Rid of Lightbrown Apple Moths
Certain parasitic wasps will attack lightbrown apple moths and their caterpillar form. Beyond encouraging these natural predators, you may opt for a pyrethrin-based spray as a chemical control solution.
12. Mediterranean Fruit Flies
The Mediterranean fruit fly, or medfly, is known for targeting well over 200 different types of fruits and vegetables. Oranges are no exception. These fast-traveling orange tree pests glide from tree to tree with ease, piercing fruit and laying maggots underneath the skin.
How to Spot a Mediterranean Fruit Fly Infestation
First, observe your oranges for small holes where eggs may have been laid. When maggots are allowed to run rampant, premature fruit drop and rotting will also occur.
How to Get Rid of Mediterranean Fruit Flies
To eliminate these orange tree pests, apply a spinosad-based splash bait to your leaves. Covering your orange trees with netting may also keep medflies away. Finally, be sure to prune and dispose of any fruit, branches, and leaves that you suspect may be infested.
Various weevil species may impact your crop—including the apple weevil, fullers rose weevil, and citrus root weevil. These tiny critters are most easily identified by their long snouts, patterned backs, and pear-shaped bodies.
How to Spot a Weevil Infestation
Weevils are particularly difficult to spot during the daytime. These small orange tree pests do most of their feeding at night—primarily chewing on leaves and, occasionally, fruit. Look out for notched leaves and stunted plant growth.
How to Get Rid of Weevils
To prevent weevils from wreaking havoc throughout your garden or orchard, prune your orange trees regularly. To control weevil populations, apply carbaryl, azinphosmethyl, or another type of insecticidal spray during the night.
Win the Battle Against Orange Tree Pests!
You don’t have to let orange tree pests take over your crop. Keep an eye out for these critters and use some of the above-mentioned strategies to keep them away for good.
To learn more about growing orange trees and cultivating your crop, be sure to check out our Orange Trees page!
- 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.