Describe yourself: I’m the tiny larvae of a beautiful silver moth, and am very rarely seen. That said, you can sure see my silvery trail of destruction, as I leave my squiggly tunnels all over the leaves of your favourite citrus trees!

Hobbies: Mama moth loves laying eggs on your fab citrus foliage, and can produce up to 15 generations of lovely leafmining larvae each year. Lovely larvae live to mine, and this produces some super squiggly silver tracks all over the leaves of your citrus

Likes: I adore citrus trees of all kinds, especially lemons, limes (native and exotic) and orange trees. I love laying eggs, especially on the midrib of the foliage of your favourite fruit trees, and knowing my beautiful larvae are growing big and strong inside your foliage. I especially like when all my babies make their silvery tracks on your leaves… makes a mother so proud!  And I love to get started when there is fresh new foliage available.

Dislikes: Parasitic wasps and lacewings really bother me, as do a number of low environmental impact horticultural oils. Diligent gardeners who pull off and dump infested leaves into the bin also make me sad.

You’ll know you’ve met me when: The leaves of your citrus are covered in squiggly silver trails, and, if the infestation is pretty bad, the leaves may appear to curl and become distorted. These curled leaves allow my larvae to pupate and become grown ups….ready to fly and infest again!

Old School Control Methods: Really hideous chemicals registered for commercial growers only.

Breaking up ain’t hard to do… if:

  • Remove all affected leaves as soon as you see them. This means inspecting new growth, especially in spring.  Although moth numbers are low then, new growth, especially on young trees, is much more vulnerable.  The mines are not as obvious as later in the season, but if you inspect trees closely and see about 10% of leaves with mines, the leaves should be removed.  Place the removed foliage into a plastic bag and leave it out in the sun, or dispose of it in the bin. Do not compost these leaves, otherwise your compost bin may become a nursery for more leafminer!
  • Encourage natural predators like lacewings and parasitic wasps to your garden by increasing your backyard biodiversity. Otherwise, consider purchasing some of these guys where all good bugs are sold!
  • Spray with horticultural oil to deter mama moth from laying new eggs. The oil won’t kill the larvae which is why it’s important to inspect trees early in the season and remove any infested growth. Spray first thing in the morning to avoid spraying beneficial insects which are less active at this time. This also reduces the chance of burning foliage. Have a look at the Garden Product Guide – Safe for You ‘n’ Nature for a number of suitable low environmental impact products.

Banner image:  Ana Keliikuli, from Scot Nelson, Flickr