Welcome to our blog post on common citrus-damaging pests! Citrus trees are vulnerable to various pests that can wreak havoc on their health and productivity. In this article, we will explore the symptoms of these pests, the best treatments available, and prevention and management strategies. By understanding these pests and how to deal with them, you can ensure the well-being of your citrus trees and enjoy a bountiful harvest.
Overview of Citrus Farming and Production
India ranks fifth in citrus fruit production, making it an important agricultural sector. Spain, USA, Israel, Morocco, South Africa, Japan, Brazil, Turkey, and Cuba produce citrus with India. Many citrus species originate in North East India, a tropical and subtropical region of Southeast Asia that includes India and China. India produces 7,464,000 metric tons of citrus on 846,000 hectares. Its vitamin C and juice are prized.
Orange (mandarin or tantra), sweet orange (mosambi, malta, or study), and lime/lemon (known as ‘Pati lime’ or ‘Kagzi lime’) are India’s commercial citrus types. India’s citrus-growing states are Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Karnataka, Uttaranchal, Bihar, Orissa, Assam, and Gujarat. About 250 bug and mite species infest citrus orchards in India. Pests, including citrus butterflies, leaf miners, blackflies, whitefly, psylla, and scales, harm plant development, especially during the fresh flush period.
Citrus is grown in over 52 countries. Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and Spain produce the most citrus. Citrus species’ primary and secondary centers of origin are in India’s North Eastern Region. Citrus Medica, citron (C. medica), sweet lime (C. lamittoides), sour orange (C. aurantium), sweet pummelo (C. grandis), sour pummelo (C. megaloxycarpa), Khasi paid, and rough lemon are native citrus species in this region.
Most Common Citrus Damaging Pests
- Citrus Psylla (Diaphorina citri): Both adults and nymphs of this pest suck sap from buds, leaves, and branches, injecting a toxic substance. Severe infestation results in distorted leaves, defoliation, and the spread of ‘citrus greening’ disease.
- Bark Borer (Inderbela tetraonis, Inderbela quadrinotata): The caterpillars bore into branches, weakening the tree. Webby masses of chewed wood particles and excreta on trunks indicate their damage. Translocation of cell sap is disrupted, affecting growth and fruiting.
- Citrus Leaf miner (Phyllocnistis citrella): Larvae mine tender leaves, causing silvery appearance, distortion, and crumpling. Infestation leads to yellowing and drying of leaves and promotes citrus canker disease.
- Citrus White fly / Citrus Black fly (Dialeurodes citri, Aleurocanthus woglumi): Nymphs and adults suck sap, secreting honeydew and causing sooty mold on leaves. Severe infestation turns fruits black and affects their taste.
- Aphids (Toxoptera citricida, Myzus persicae, Aphis gossypii): Nymphs and adults suck sap, resulting in yellowing, curling, and deformation of leaves. Aphid infestation during flowering reduces fruit set. Some aphids are vectors of the citrus tristeza virus.
- Citrus or Lemon Butterfly (Papilio demoleus): Caterpillars feed on young foliage, causing defoliation. They leave only the midrib of the leaf. Severe infestation occurs in nurseries and on grown-up trees.
- Fruit Sucking Moths (Eudocima fullonia, Eudocima maternal): Nocturnal moths that feed on ripening fruits, causing damage and exposing them to secondary infections. Affected fruits usually fall within days.
- Fruit Flies (Bactrocera zonata, Bactrocera dorsalis): Female fruit flies puncture ripening fruits to lay eggs. Maggots feed on the pulp, leading to rotting, premature fruit fall, and fungal or bacterial infections.
- Citrus Mite (Eutetranychus orientalis): Mites damage fruits by causing russetting, making them unfit for export. They feed on leaves, leaving multiple grey spots.
- Scale Insects: Armoured scales (Aonidiella auriantii, A. citrina, A. orientalis, Chrysompahlus aonidum) damage fruits and trees. Soft scales (Coccus hesperidium, C. viridis) secrete honeydew, promoting sooty mold growth.
- Mealybug (Planococcus citri): Nymphs and females suck sap, excreting honeydew and causing flowers, fruits, and nursery seedlings to dry up and fall. Ants are often associated with mealybug infestation.
- Citrus thrips (Scirtothrips citri): Thrips damage flowers, leaves, and fruits by lacerating, rasping, and sucking cell sap. Leaves become distorted, and fruit necks develop silvery-white irregular patches.
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