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Something Is Eating My Citrus Tree Leaves — Help!

Sound familiar?

Bug season in Florida is in full swing, and citrus bugs are no exception. And there's nothing more disheartening than paying big bucks for a citrus tree and finding the leaves munched away in the first month.

But knowing what you're up against is the first step to a positive outcome.

So this week I answered yet another call from a very distressed new-citrus-tree dad with the "Something is eating my citrus leaves!" plea for help.

Can you see the bite marks all over these leaves?
chewed on leaves

There's no obvious culprits, but when you start turning over leaves and looking closely, here's what you find:

Below is a picture of what we found in our citrus tree last night:

tree frog in citrus

Nope -- it's not this guy!

Larvae inside a cocoon

More larvae, worms in background

At first glance, the worm looks like bird poop.

worm photos courtesy "ipod Mike" -- thanks for sharing Mike!

So who is this and how dare he eat my tree?

Before you run to Walmarts and grab the strongest, most disgusting poisonous insecticide you can find, I should share the experience of the last "new-citrus-tree dad" I talked to last week.

In 3 words: It didn't work. Sprayed the whole tree and the worm kept on going like the Energizer Bunny or something!  Ouch!

What did work is a homemade concoction of dishwasher soap, cayenne pepper, and black pepper recipe he found on YouTube.

Personally I tire of clogged sprayers from the pepper granules, so I just pull the grown-up worms off and squish. Then treat the tree for larvae with my favorite organic insecticide/fungicide/miticide: Organocide (fish oil formula).

If you're already using Organocide to try to prevent the more destructive psylliad insects, you're also protected from things like leaf miners & butterfly larvae.

It didn't work. The poison didn't work!  Sprayed the whole tree and the worm kept on going like the Energizer Bunny or something!

~ frustrated
citrus tree 'dad'

Did I say butterfly larvae? Yep.

In a few weeks that ugly worm that looks like bird poop turns into this:

Maybe you could spare just a few citrus leaves?

A Special Thanks

... to all of you who call with questions and updates. Without that inspiration, blogs like this one would never happen.  Thanks for sharing.

BTW -- that's a swallowtail butterfly!

Our favorite effective organic insect control:
Read more here.

About the author

Green Genie

The Green Genie is the voice of AskTheGreenGenie brand -- organic, edible landscaping for home gardening made fun ! We're passionate about helping home gardeners to get more out of their gardens and enjoy the fruits of their labors -- literally. Organic gardening is a given. Fight pests effectively and actually win the battles. Oh, and palm trees -- I know, they're not all edible, but we love the ambiance!