Q. I have a lemon tree with the leaves eaten up by something. I have been spraying with soap and water weekly but I’ve not seen any improvement. Any ideas?
A. I looked at the picture of the leaves you sent. Damage caused by critters is frequently characteristic to the feeder. The leaves are chewed from the tips and entire portions of the leaf are gone.
Commonly we see root damage but this does not look like root weevil damage. Root weevil damage leaves a characteristic “notching” along the edge of the leaf.
Rabbits can damage citrus but they usually eat the small twigs or branches and entire leaves. This damage usually extends only as high as they can reach. For cottontails it is about a foot. For jackrabbits it can be 2 ½ feet or more.
Rabbits also damage the trunks if the trees are fairly young. It does not look like rabbit damage but I will not rule out rabbits. Look at where the damage is located on the tree and see if it extends to a certain height only which might point at rabbits.
This damage resembles grasshopper damage to the leaves but I would not expect damage from grasshoppers this time of year because they are not active now. Perhaps this damage happened awhile back and you are just now seeing it.
Soap and water sprays will not leave behind a toxic residue that kill pests. Soap and water sprays will only kill insects that you spray.
Traditional pesticides like Sevin insecticide will leave behind a toxic residue. Try spraying with Sevin if the lemon tree is not in flower. The damage resembles the chewing from insects such as grasshoppers and Sevin insecticide should do the trick.