Gossip in the Garden

Harmony in the Garden's Chattier Side

.

The ‘Mite-y’ Lemon


Eureka lemon trees are notorious for producing freakishly shaped lemons – especially along the cooler coastal climate (like ours in the Bay Area).  Personally, I like the occasional odd-ball that my tree kicks out – and so do kids.  But if more and more of your lemons are turning out like this you may want to take some action.

What causes this?  It’s a weird little bud mite which sucks the sap from the lemon flower, causing the poor flower to have a misshapen ovary – resulting in, well, freaky looking lemons.

I came across this description of what the bud mite actually looks like it’s a small, elongated insect with a tapered posterior and four legs near the mouth”.  Four legs near the mouth? Ewwww….what can you expect from such a deformed little bug?

If you have lemons like these, don’t worry as it’s rarely life-threatening for your tree.  And you don’t have to use the heavy-artillery to get rid of these guys, either.  There’s lots of naturally occurring predatory mites which will take care of most of the problem (I don’t use any sprays on my tree and only get a handful of these lemons each year). If you have a more severe infestation you can spray the tree with a ‘summer oil’ (sold at most nurseries) which causes minimal harm to the beneficial mites, while killing the ‘evil’ mites.  Some of these types of oils contain petroleum products, but there’s more and more available which are vegetable oil based which work just as well. In our Zone 8 climate, spray the tree May thru June and then again Sept. thru Nov. – when the mites are active and not yet ovary-diving deep down inside the flower buds.

But if you have just a few of these misfits, and you have kids, you might consider keeping them as it can be quite entertaining to make ‘artwork’ out of them!

Like a little canary…

.

 

 

 

 

.

Or a Tim Burton character….

.

.

.

.

.

Or how ’bout a scary little hand?

.

.


 

The point is – don’t be so quick to dis-regard icky fruit!  When it’s raining outside, and there’s nothing to do, it can be the perfect outlet for your budding little artist!

.

9 Responses to The ‘Mite-y’ Lemon

  1. My neighbor has maybe two on his tree this year…first time I have ever noticed them, very weird.
    Also, a mite is not an insect. It has four legs, so it is more closely related to spiders. Insects have six legs.

  2. I loved the pictures of your garden on The Gardeners Roundtable site. My favorite gardening magazine is Fine Gardening.

    Even though I design for friends and family, I am not a professional garden designer. I will certainly enjoy your website.

  3. I think Christina is talking about the Buddha’s Hand citrus. They’re so pretty, but not really edible like the Meyer’s. I like yours, Rebecca- it’s best of both worlds!

    • That WOULD be a good book, wouldn’t it? Teach the kids at a young age to have a sense of humor with life….”kinda like when life gives you lemons for lemons…”

  4. Isn’t that how that Asian Citrus became famous- I think it’s Vietnamese? A lemon that looks like it’s a hand? You should look that one up, maybe you have a “sport”!!