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During the summer months, the foliage of lime trees (Tilia) can become covered with red tack-like galls on the upper side of leaves. This is due to the feeding activities of a gall mite.
Lime nail gall on Tilia
Lime nail gall mites are microscopic animals (less than 0.2mm long) that feed on the foliage of lime trees (Tilia sp). The mites feed by sucking sap. They secrete chemicals into the plant tissue that causes the leaves to produce the galls. The mites then suck sap from plant cells lining the gall structure.
Between May and June, upper leaf surfaces of lime trees may develop many pale yellow or red pointed tubular structures up to 5-8mm long. Although the lime nail gall mite disfigures the foliage it has little or no effect on tree growth.
There is no need to control this mite. Although heavily infested trees may to some look unhealthy, the mite has no impact on the tree’s health or growth and so the mite can be tolerated.
LIme nail gall mites overwinter as non-feeding females in crevices in the bark, especially near buds, or underneath bud scales. In the spring, when the host plant comes into growth, the mites begin feeding and laying eggs. Up to about 80 eggs may be produced at a rate of two to three a day. There may be two or three generations during the summer with both male and female adults being present. In late summer overwintering females are produced which will not lay eggs until the following year.
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