Trees can't talk, but they tell you when something's wrong by exhibiting symptoms like curled and crinkled leaves. Orange tree leaves are naturally thick and straight, with a rough texture. Luckily, the causes of orange tree leaf curl are not very serious, so you can successfully treat the tree and halt leaf damage.
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Orange tree leaves curl for one of two reasons: the tree has an aphid infestation or it has an infestation of citrus leaf miners. Both options mean bugs, which means a good dose of insecticide will cure your leaf problem. Use context clues to determine which pest is bothering your trees, to choose the right treatment.
Aphids leave behind both leaf curl and a slimy residue on the plant tissue, which turns black and moulds over time. If you see black fuzzy or clear slimy substances on your tree, you have aphids. Citrus leaf miners lay eggs inside the leaves, which causes larvae to "tunnel" out when hatched. Look for squiggles inside the orange leaves to confirm the presence of this pest.
While leaf miners cause unsightly damage to your tree, they don't harm the tree's fruit production or its overall health. Aphids cause more harm: the black mould that emerges from the honeydew -- the slimy coating -- diminishes fruit quality and tree growth. The black mould coating also shelters scale insects. For these reasons, definitely treat your tree if you determine aphids caused the curl; treatment for leaf miners is optional.
If aphid infestation is mild, spray your orange tree with a blast of water from a hose, in hopes of dislodging the pests. For larger aphid problems, try insecticidal soap. For citrus leaf miners, horticultural oils work well. Horticultural oil can burn orange tree leaves if misapplied, so read the labels before treating your tree. With any pest care product, follow all instructions for use and dosage to give your tree the most effective treatment.
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