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Sap vampires

Scale insects

Scale insects

These little creatures – about the size of a pin-head – are sitting on a leaf of our grown-from-pip grapefruit tree.

They look almost cute, like tiny flattened mice, but they’ve got their mouthparts well stuck into the central vein, sucking sap.

I’m not sure how much harm they’re doing; the spider mites are probably worse. But they’re making the leaves unpleasantly sticky with their honeydew.

One way of getting rid of them is to pick or rub them off by hand, wiping the stove dust off the leaf at the same time so as to kill two birds with one stone. But the plant’s nearly two metres high and two metres wide and has a lot of leaves so it would be a bit like painting the Forth Bridge.

  1. jomamahep
    March 6, 2016 at 8:12 pm

    I have had similar little buggers on my lemon tree. The thing that has worked best for me is probably not available to you, but maybe you could find something similar…? There’s an insecticidal soap here in the U.S. that works really well and it’s certified organic. It is here:


    Failing that, maybe you could make your own to spray on the leaves (undersides and tops) . The key is to add a surfactant such as dish soap to make sure it stays ON the leaves and doesn’t just drip off. I’ve mixed up a simple solution that’s found here (the neem oil seems to be particularly helpful!) with decent results: http://plantcaretoday.com/homemade-insecticidal-soap-recipe.html

    • March 6, 2016 at 10:16 pm

      Hi Jo, Thank you for your interest and your ideas. I’ve been thinking about using Oliocin which is a mineral oil and the standard treatment here against such beasties on fruit trees outside, but the grapefruit’s position in front of a bookcase makes it a bit complicated to spray (the weather’s too bad to take it outside). I read your suggestions carefully and I will certainly consider using something like that as an alternative.

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