Several cold winters and dry and hot summers have combined to take their toll on citrus trees in Florida. Here in the northeast part of the state the dry conditions over both last summer and this winter along with extreme cold for several winters has weakened many trees. It’s times like these that disease and pest problems can take hold, and while they won’t necessarily kill trees, if left unattended to they can stress trees to the breaking point.

We’ve noticed a spongy, white fungus-like substance on leaves and fruit on area trees. Not a fungus, but rather citrus snow scale, and while it looks pretty bad the presence of these insect pests does not render fruit inedible. Wash fruit well for eating and juicing purposes.

And prepare to spray trees with a combination of horticultural oil and insecticidal soap to reduce populations. According to our Putnam County Horticulture Agent Joe Sewards, the pests are usually around all year.

“What you are observing is the overwintering females” says Sewards. “This scale is present year-round but is most noticable (obviously) in the winter. When temps. warm, the females will lay eggs and the process will start over. Raking up leaves that have fallen as well as fruit (sanitation) will go a long way toward keeping populations below damaging levels.”