Citrus Pest Patrol22nd March 2017 • Stephanie's Blog • Stephanie Donaldson
One of my three citrus trees has spent the winter in the comfort of the kitchen, while the other two have overwintered in the cooler conditions of ‘the orangery’ – in other words on a bench in front of the garage window where they seem perfectly happy. Meanwhile, I’ve discovered that the kitchen softie has been playing host to the nasty mealie bug.
In the past red spider mite and scale insect have also put in an appearance on whichever of the citrus gets to spend the winter in the warm, so I know to check for signs of infestation and act quickly. Red spider mite can be dealt with by increasing the humidity by regular spraying with water, but the only sure way to vanquish mealie bug or scale insect (other than a systemic insecticide which is not recommended on edible crops) is to wipe every affected leaf and branch with a cotton wool bud dipped in methylated spirits. Fortunately none of the trees is very large – I keep them compact with regular pruning -but nonetheless it is laborious, although also very satisfying. I’ve had these trees for over 10 years and would be sad to lose any of them by allowing the pests to take hold.
The treated tree is now in a covered area outdoors where it will be less prone to re-infestation until it moves to its summer spot in the garden.