Live to Plant

How to Get Rid of Slaters on Citrus Plant

Updated: March 26, 2022

Citrus plants are a great addition to any garden. They are beautiful, smell amazing, and provide delicious fruit. However, like any other plant, they can fall prey to pests. One of the most common pests that can infest your citrus plant is slaters. These small, grey or brown insects, also known as pillbugs or woodlice, feed on the leaves of citrus plants and can cause significant damage if not controlled. This article will provide you with useful tips and techniques to get rid of slaters so that your citrus plant can thrive.

Identify Slaters

Before you start implementing any pest control measures, it’s crucial to identify whether the problem is indeed slaters. Slaters are small insects with an oval-shaped body that measures about 0.5 inches in length. They have antennae and seven pairs of legs. Their bodies are segmented and covered in hard, protective shells. These shells are often mistaken for scales or armor.

Slaters are active at night and hide during the day in moist areas like under pots, stones, or debris. If you suspect you have a slater infestation on your citrus plant, inspect the leaves carefully for signs of damage. Slaters feed on the underside of the leaves, causing small holes or chewed edges.

Remove Debris and Moisture

Slaters thrive in moist environments and hide under debris during the day. Therefore, removing debris from around your citrus plant is a crucial step in controlling a slater infestation. Make sure to clean up all fallen leaves, twigs, and other debris around your citrus plant regularly.

Another way to reduce moisture levels around your citrus plant is to avoid overwatering it. Overwatering creates a damp environment that slaters love. Ensure that you water your citrus plant only when necessary and use well-draining soil to avoid waterlogging.

Use Natural Repellents

There are several natural repellents that you can use to get rid of slaters on citrus plants. These include:

  • Diatomaceous earth: This is a powdery substance made from the fossilized remains of diatoms. When slaters crawl over it, it dehydrates them, leading to their death. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth around your citrus plant to keep slaters away.

  • Essential oils: Certain essential oils like clove, peppermint, and eucalyptus have been shown to repel slaters. Dilute these oils with water and spray the mixture on the leaves of your citrus plant.

  • Coffee grounds: Slaters detest coffee grounds’ strong scent and will avoid areas where they are present. Sprinkle coffee grounds around your citrus plant to repel slaters.

Use Chemical Control Measures

If natural repellents don’t work or the infestation is severe, it may be necessary to use chemical control measures. However, it’s important to note that chemicals can harm beneficial insects and pollinators. Therefore, use them as a last resort and follow the instructions on the label carefully.

One of the most effective chemical control measures for slaters is insecticidal soap. This soap contains potassium salts of fatty acids that break down the protective shells of slaters, causing them to dehydrate and die. Spray insecticidal soap on both sides of the leaves of your citrus plant, ensuring you cover all affected areas.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I prevent a slater infestation in the first place?

Preventing a slater infestation is easier than treating one. Keep your garden clean by removing debris regularly, avoid overwatering your plants, and use well-draining soil. You can also create barriers around your citrus plant using copper tape or mesh.

Are slaters harmful to humans?

No, slaters are not harmful to humans. They do not bite or sting and are not known to transmit diseases.

Can I use chemicals on my citrus plant if I plan on eating the fruit?

If you plan on consuming the fruit of your citrus plant, it’s best to avoid using chemical control measures. Instead, use natural repellents or non-toxic pest control methods.

Can I use insecticidal soap on other plants in my garden?

Yes, insecticidal soap is safe to use on most plants. However, it’s important to read the label carefully and follow the instructions for each specific plant.


Slaters can be a nuisance on your citrus plant, but with these tips and techniques, you can get rid of them quickly and easily. Remember to identify the problem correctly, remove debris and moisture, use natural repellents, and only resort to chemical control measures as a last resort. With proper care and attention, your citrus plant will thrive and produce delicious fruit for years to come.