Citrus Peelminer – Marmara salictella

Citrus Peelminer: Appearance, Territory, Damage and Life Cycle

Latin Name: Phyllocnistis Citrella

Appearances: The citrus peelminer is a 4 mm dark grey moth with mottled white and brown patterns. Citrus Leafminer larvae are translucent greenish-yellow and arrow-shaped, measuring around 3 mm in length. Larvae are well hidden inside citrus leaves, in their characteristic sinuous ‘mines.’ The pupae of the Citrus Leafminer are around 2.5 mm long, pale brown in color, and commonly found in a rolled over leaf edge.

Host Plants: Peelminer prefers grapefruit and navel oranges in citrus, although it also attacks lemons. Citrus, cotton, cowpeas, eggplant, grape, peppers, plum, pumpkin, and zucchini are examples of plants that are known to be heavily infested with citrus peelminer.

Territory: This moth is native to the United States and feeds on willow. Multiple non-native plants, including all species of citrus and certain ornamentals, such as oleander, are thought to have undergone a host-shift. In Florida, the citrus peelminer has been observed in small numbers, and at least three Marmara species have been recognized.

Damage Caused: On the surface of the fruit, larvae construct mines. The peelminer prefers grapefruit, pummelo, and some smooth-skinned navel kinds, but it can attack any variety. Susceptible cultivars can have up to 80% of their fruit damaged, while non-susceptible kinds rarely have more than 3% of their fruit damaged. Peelminer will mine the leaves in strong infestations, but this is uncommon. Fruit can be cosmetically damaged, but one mine can make it unfit for the fresh market. Citrus cultivars that are susceptible to peelminer damage are more likely to be damaged if they are planted near crops where peelminer populations have grown (cotton and beans).

Life Cycle and Habits: The citrus leafminer has four stages of development: egg, larva, pupa, and adult moth. Adults do not harm plants and only survive for one to two weeks. Adult moths are most active in the morning and evening, resting on the undersides of leaves during the day. They are rarely seen during the day.

Adult: The adult moth is crepuscular, meaning it is most active early in the morning and late in the evening. The lifespan of an adult is around 11 days. Females lay many single eggs (10 to 50 per female) on the surface of fruit or stems throughout their lives. There is no overwintering stage; the insect develops continuously throughout the year; however, the length of a generation is shorter in mild weather. From May through November, there are 6 to 8 generations per year, which occur at about monthly intervals.