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Earlier today, pictures of weirdly shaped lemons were shared on reddit. The top comment there says it is a case of citrus bud mites, which actually seems to make sense.

My questions are:

  • Is this really the cause of the deformation or could it be caused due to other non-insect factors (similar to blossom end rot in peppers & tomatoes)?
  • How can one prevent this from happening/attacking (if possible)?
  • Post attack/occurrence, how can one control this insect/disease? There is a comment on that thread that describes an organic solution. Does that seem reasonable? Are there other/better alternatives?

Image credits: Evan1 (left), VanillaCocaCola (right)

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Cthulhu, for the uninitiated... –  Lorem Ipsum Dec 31 '11 at 7:37
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heh +1 for Cthulhu –  Rory Alsop Dec 31 '11 at 15:26
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^^^ what Rory said... but I think you're asking the question the wrong way. It should be, "How can I grow Cthulhu on my lemon tree?" Especially if Kristian's answer is right and the fruit is still edible. –  bstpierre Jan 2 '12 at 4:08
    
@bstpierre facepalm... opportunity missed :( –  Lorem Ipsum Jan 2 '12 at 4:57
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1 Answer

up vote 5 down vote accepted

A quote from Golden Gate Gardener on the identification

This happens because some mites enter the flower buds and start sucking out the sap. The ovary of the flower is misshapen, so the fruit is, well, outlandish. Citrus bud mite is apparently particularly a problem near the coast in our area, just where we depend on lemons for most of our garden citrus.

And in relation to that, I found another post on AllExperts about getting rid of them

To insure you kill all activity, treat once a week for 3-6 treatments. This schedule is necessary in the warmer months when cycles develop quickly. If it is the off season and development is slower, treat 2-4 times every two weeks. Don't waste your time with standard materials like dursban or diazinon. Like most arachnids, spider mites are not too vulnerable to these active ingredients. The best material for spider mite control is called CYFLUTHRIN.

A comment on the Golden Gate Gardener site also mentions that since the mites only attack the flowers of the tree, even though the fruit might not look very appetizing, it should be safe to eat.

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