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Bugs make the lemon tree sticky
Your lemon tree is sticky because of …Bugs. In particular, your lemon tree might have an infestation of citrus mealy bugs or scale insects. The warmth and humidity that lemon trees like are also the favourite environment of these bugs.
Look closely at the small inaccessible places on your tree, such as leaf joints and under loose bark. You may see a white ‘meal’-like cluster of mealybugs. Turn the leaf over and check along its midrib; there may be the small yellow semi-circular scales of the scale insects.
Both these insect types love the sap of the lemon tree, sucking it up and secreting “honeydew”. Sooty mould loves to grow on this honeydew and you’ll notice this problem as the leaves turn black.
Getting rid of the bugs
You can use a biocontrol of ladybugs to control this infestation. Release these beneficial insects early in the season and watch them feed on the mealybugs and scale insects. Wasps are also these harmful insects’ natural predators.
Alternatively, use a commercial (horticultural) insecticide spray or a home-made one of dishwashing liquid and water. Spray on the leaves every few days until the infestation is destroyed. In addition, prune the lemon tree to give more space to the branches and leaves and hence more access to fresh air and room for it to circulate.
If sooty mould has moved in, once you’ve eradicated the bad insects, treat the citrus tree with a liquid copper fungicide or use a solution of water and neem oil.
Read next: How and when to prune lemon trees
Preventing the bugs in the first place
Practice good hygiene with your lemon tree to keep away the bugs that harm the lemon tree. Ensure that the soil is in neither a drought or a waterlogged condition. Apply nutrients as recommended so that the tree is strong and healthy to resist bugs. Ans inspect the lemon tree for stickiness weekly so you can catch any bugs when they are young. They’re easier to get rid of at that life stage.