Aphids on Meyer Lemon - Knowledgebase Question

San Francisco, CA
Question by bongmacdora
December 29, 1997
I have fuzzy aphids on my Meyer lemon tree along with the associated ants. I have tried hosing them off but to no avail. I would like to get rid of them without pesticides since I have several birds including hummingbirds and bush tits who visit the tree. Do you have any suggestions?


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Answer from NGA
December 29, 1997

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Aphids can be a problem, especially when ants are tending them - ants like the sticky honeydew excreted by aphids. You need to look at your insects with a magnifying glass to make sure they really are aphids, and not mealy bugs. (Mealy bugs look like white cottony masses.) Control tactics would be different for mealy bugs.

You can make yellow sticky traps for the aphids. Just paint cardboard a bright yellow, or get yellow construction paper and cut into 3" by 5" pieces. Coat the pieces with petroleum jelly or heavy motor oil, and attach the pieces with clothes pins to the branches of your lemon tree. Aphids will be attracted to the yellow color, will fly into the sticky surface and get stuck. For the young on the leaves, you can spray insecticidal soap (a very benign pesticide) on the aphids every few days to kill them. Insecticidal soap is available at most garden centers.

Mealy bugs can be killed by dabbing them with a Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol or using the insecticidal soapon them.

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