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Citrus Pest Quick Guide: Citrus Leafminer (Phyllocnistis citrella Stainton)

Lauren M. Diepenbrock and Jamie D. Burrow

Life Cycle

Eggs look like tiny dew drops on young expanding leaf growth. Eggs are usually found beside the midvein on the underside of an unexpanded leaf.

Larvae emerge directly into leaf tissue and begin mining along the midvein in a back and forth pattern until pupation occurs. If populations are high, several larvae can be found in one leaf and even on young stems.

Adults are small moths with a 4 mm wingspan and can resemble a speck of dust. They shelter in the tree canopy during the day and emerge at night to deposit eggs. Females can lay 50 eggs in their short lifespan, causing populations to grow quickly.


Larval feeding causes distorted leaves with reduced photosynthetic capacity. Full leaf expansion is often not completed. Due to the damage, there is chlorosis on the other side of the leaf. In severe cases, leaf drop and possible stem dieback can occur.

Damage generally starts in spring as temperatures rise and can increase rapidly under ideal conditions. The lowest populations are in the winter months, and the highest populations are in spring and summer. Population levels vary from year to year.

Leafminer damage also becomes an entry point for citrus canker bacteria.

Figure 1. Citrus leafminer larva.
Figure 1.  Citrus leafminer larva.
Credit: UF/IFAS


Figure 2. Citrus leafminer pupa.
Figure 2.  Citrus leafminer pupa.
Credit: L.M. Diepenbrock, UF/IFAS


Figure 3. Citrus leafminer adult magnified.
Figure 3.  Citrus leafminer adult magnified.
Credit: L. Buss, UF/IFAS


Figure 4. Citrus leafminer adult (right of penny).
Figure 4.  Citrus leafminer adult (right of penny).
Credit: T. R. Weeks, UF/IFAS


Figure 5. Top and Bottom Left: Citrus leafminer damage. Right: Citrus leafminer damage with canker lesions.
Figure 5.  Top and Bottom Left: Citrus leafminer damage. Right: Citrus leafminer damage with canker lesions.
Credit: J. D. Burrow, UF/IFAS
Peer Reviewed

Publication #ENY2041

Release Date:April 2, 2020

Reviewed At:November 28, 2023

Related Experts

Diepenbrock, Lauren M.


University of Florida

Burrow, Jamie D.


University of Florida

Related Collections

Part of Citrus Pest Quick Guides series

Related Topics

Fact Sheet

About this Publication

This document is ENY2041, one of a series of the Entomology and Nematology Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 2019. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.

About the Authors

Lauren M. Diepenbrock, assistant professor, Entomology and Nematology Department; and Jamie D. Burrow, Extension program manager, UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center; Gainesville, FL 32611.


  • Lauren Diepenbrock