The Q&A Archives: Sticky Meyers Lemon Tree

Question: I have a Meyers Lemon Tree (about 35 years old) that is indoors for the winter. It has about 5 lemons on it and is ready to bloom again. I have noticed some small flys like little fruit flys and there is a clear sticky substance on the leaves and on some of the branches. Do you know what this is from and what do I need to do to get rid of it?

I will be another 6 to 8 weeks before I can the tree outside for the summer.


Answer: I'd guess your citrus tree is being attacked by a sucking insect that's producing a sticky, honeydew substance which is attracting the fruit flies. Aphids, whiteflies and scales are insects that commonly attack fruit trees. Inspect the branches and look for bumps (scales), or egg clusters, or adult insects. If you find any, try washing them off with plain water. This will also remove or reduce the amount of honeydew, which should discourage the flies. If the problem persists, you might want to try horticultural oil (AKA summer oil). This light grade oil can be used on most plants to kill scale and other pests. Check the label to see if it is registered for use on citrus. To make sure it won't harm your tree, do a test spray on some of the foliage to be sure it won't burn. Horticultural oils should be available locally or from, Gardener's Supply Co 128 Intervale Rd. Burlington, VT 05401 1-800-863-1700

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