What’s wrong with my lemon tree?
Several viewers sent in questions about similar issues on their citrus plants. Art and Marie Crowe found damage on their Meyer lemon and tangerine. The damage is located on the new growth and appears to have tunnels going through the leaf.
On Sanjay Sundaram’s otherwise healthy trees, the leaves are shriveled, even though his plants produced buckets of delicious fruit in 2016.
We suspected leaf-miner insects as the culprits, and contacted Texas A&M AgriLife Extension fruit specialist Monte Nesbitt for his expert advice. He confirmed our leaf miner suspicions, saying that 2016 had shown a particular abundance of these pests, with them occurring much farther north than usual.
In areas with warm winters, they’re seen every year, and cause damage by feeding on soft, tender new leaves, thus interfering with normal growth, pinching the leaves in spots and causing them to be deformed and shriveled-looking.
The life cycle of these insects coincides with the normal summer flush of new growth, and although the damage is unsightly, it doesn’t affect the plant’s overall health or inhibit its production of good quality fruit, there’s no need for pesticides.
Simply prune out the affected areas, thus encouraging the emergence of new growth after the danger of leaf-miner feeding has passed for another year.