How to Manage Pests

Pests in Gardens and Landscapes

Citrus rust mite (Silver mite)—Phyllocoptruta oleivora

This pest is known as the rust mite on oranges and the silver mite on lemons. It is an infrequent pest in most areas and occurs primarily in the southern coastal areas of California. It is very small, deep yellow in color, and wedge shaped. A hand lens is required to view it.

Identification of species


The rust mite feeds on the outside exposed surface of fruit that is 0.5 inch or larger. Feeding destroys rind cells and the surface becomes silvery on lemons, rust brown on mature oranges, or black on green oranges. This damage does not hurt the quality of the fruit inside. Most damage occurs from late spring to late summer.


In backyard situations, treatment should not generally be necessary. If infestations are heavy, a treatment with wettable sulfur can be applied.

Citrus rust mite adults
Citrus rust mite adults
Russeted oranges
Russeted oranges
Silvering on lemons
Silvering on lemons

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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