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Deficiency or Pest?

Posted by Leekle2ManE Lade Lake, FL 9a (My Page) on
Mon, Jul 23, 12 at 9:34

The following are pictures of a Persian Lime that I planted back in March. It put out flowers and then fruit in early May, but I noticed while it was trying to grow the fruit, my other young citrus trees were passing it up in size. So I removed the fruit to allow this one to grow more. And it did start growing. Unfortunately, the two new stems it put out look very unhealthy. I am new to gardening and plants, so I would like to get some second opinions or even some insight into just what did this. My gut feeling says it is an insect of some sort (perhaps slugs), but I have yet to witness the culprit(s). Four days ago I finally sprayed it with some Insecticidal Soap and massaged some slow release fertilizer into the soil around the roots. As you can see it looks like the newer leaves might be healthier, but time will tell.

This first one (and all of them really) isn't very good. It was taken as the sun was coming up, so it looks very glossy. But the bright, glossy areas are what looks like milky slime trail. It's just much, much more 'slime' than I have seen on other plants that have been visited by slugs. You can see the healthier leaves at the top of the stem.

This second picture shows the deformed nature of the leaves much better. The leaves are 'slimed' and deformed, but no indication that they have been munched on, as I believe slugs tend to do.

This third one shows a leaf that is more like what I expect from slugs. There's a definite slime trail up the center and some nibbling at the leaf's edge. Not so much deformation of the leaf either. This is an older and somewhat healthier looking (despite slug damage) leaf that is on the same stem as Picture 1.

This last picture is a side shot of the entire plant. You can see the two new, affected branches/stems are much taller than the plant itself and that all the older leaves on the bush/tree/plant are much healthier in comparison. Should I trim off one of the new branches/stems (perhaps the one to the right) and allow the other to get all that energy and nutrition? Or should I trim them both off and let the tree put out a, hopefully, healthier stem? Or should I just leave it alone and administer some sort of health care plan?

Thank you for your time and any forth-coming information.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Deficiency or Pest?

Those are leaf miners. The small insect is in between the upper and lower surface of the leaf. There are systemic insecticides that do a great job of control. Also other insecticides you can find online or on the citrus forum. And actually the damage isn't as bad as it looks. It can be lived with. You can also squish the little buggers with your fingers.

RE: Deficiency or Pest?

Ah hah. Thank you. As you hinted at and from what I've read now that I know what to look for, this purely a cosmetic thing. So I think I can live with it. Perhaps the spraying of soap is why the new leaves look healthier as it might have discouraged the parents from building their nurseries on this plant for the moment. But in the future, now that I know what it is, I'll grumble, perhaps utter a word or two that my kids shouldn't hear, but ultimately leave the little buggers to do their thing and leave the leaves (Hah! Get it? Uh... neither do I).

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