MEALYBUGS

 
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Lance S. Osborne
Professor of Entomology
University of Florida
Mid-Florida Research and
        Education Center
2725 Binion Road
Apopka, FL 32703-8504
PHONE: 407-884-2034 ext. 163
FAX:       407-814- 6186
Suncom: 354-2034
lsosborn@ufl.edu

To view a larger version of any photos on this page just click on the photo. All photos are the property of Lance S. Osborne ( lsosborn@ufl.edu ) and the University of Florida.  Please ask permission before using!  I would appreciate any comments concerning the content of this page (errors, omissions....).

Click here to go to the 

Pink Hibiscus Mealybug Webpage

     Mealybugs infest a wide range of foliage plants including: Aphelandra, Ardisia, Asparagus ferns, Cryptanthus, Dieffenbachia, Dracaena, False Aralia, Ficus, Gynura, Hoya, Maranta, Nephrolepis and Pothos.
     Mealybugs are soft-bodied insects also having piercing-sucking mouthparts and they possess a covering of flocculent, white, waxy threads. A byproduct of mealybug feeding is sticky honeydew which coats infested foliage, as illustrated by the Hoya pictured in this slide and provides an excellent medium for growth of the black sooty mold fungi. This black coating further renders affected plants unsightly. Aphids also produce honeydew and infested plants may also exhibit sooty mold fungi.
     Mealybugs, like aphids, are active throughout most of their life. The longtailed, solanum and citrus mealybugs are the species most often detected in greenhouse environments on foliage plants. Infestations are frequently visible on the foliage, as with infestation of this asparagus fern.
     However, at times mealybug infestations may occur within the vegetative shoot apex, and may be extremely difficult to detect. This ability of mealybugs to form dense colonies, particularly within the shoot apex, often makes chemical control of this pest quite difficult.
     Reproduction under greenhouse conditions is year-round and in certain species by the production of living nymphs or young and often without fertilization. Thus, the escape of a single individual from control efforts may allow the infestation to continue.
    Some mealybug species may produce 100-300 eggs enclosed within an egg sac composed of waxy secretions produced by the female. Again, mealybug developmental time is decreased by the high temperatures often encountered in greenhouse environments.
     In addition to foliar mealybugs, several small species of mealybugs are found below the soil surface and feed on root and root hairs tissue of numerous tropical foliage plants. Careful examination of infested roots will reveal white, cotton-like masses as illustrated in this slide. These white masses contain both mature females and eggs. Young root mealybugs or nymphs are active and may crawl from pot to pot via drainage holes, or they can be spread in irrigation water.

     Infestations of root mealybugs are often overlooked until severe and widespread causing reduced plant growth and foliar yellowing or chlorosis. Infestations frequently are not detected as the pests occur in the soil, and populations are quite slow to develop, with 3-6 months occurring before infestations are easily visible. Infestations often begin with the purchase of infested plant material. Therefore, if possible, samples of newly acquired plants should be removed from their containers and the roots inspected.

     This is the Longtailed mealybug, Pseudococcus longispinus (Targioni-Tozzetti). Notice the long waxy filaments around the body, the long tails and the absence of stripes on the body. This species does not produce an egg mass or ovisac.
  • 1 stripe in middle of back
  • Fringe present with thin filaments around body
  • Body fluid light clear
  • Egg sac none
  • Anal filaments present with one pair longer than the body and a second pair that are long but not as long as the first pair

     This is the Citrus mealybug, Planococcus citri (Risso). Notice the medium sized waxy filaments around the body, absence of long tails and the single dark stripe down the center of the body.  This species produces an egg mass or ovisac.
  • 1 stripe in middle of back
  • Fringe short, slightly curved filaments around body
  • Body fluid clear
  • Ovisac irregular and under body of female
  • Anal filaments less than one-eighth the length of the body

 

                   

                   

     These photographs are of male Citrus mealybugs, Planococcus citri (Risso).

 

               

     Phenacoccus madeiresis Green (Madeira mealybug) is a mealybug that has become important during the last couple years. It has a wide host range. Notice the short waxy filaments around the body, absence of long tails and the absence of a single dark stripe down the center of the body. This species produces an egg mass or ovisac.

Phenacoccus gossypii & P. madeirensis

  • 2 dark stripes on back
  • Fringe present, short filaments around body
  • Body fluid pale greenish
  • Ovisac very regular covering body except head
  • Anal filaments about one-fourth the length of the body

     This is the Solanum mealybug, Phenacoccus solani Ferris. Notice the very short waxy filaments around the body, the absence of long tails and the absence of stripes on the body. This species does not produce an egg mass or ovisac.
  • Fringe present, short filaments around body
  • No ovisac produced

     This is the Striped mealybug, Ferrisia virgata (Cockerell). Notice the very long waxy filaments around the body, the long tails and the presence of two stripes on the body. This species does produce an egg mass or ovisac.
  • Fringe heavy & wedge-shaped
  • 2 dark stripes on the back
  • Body fluid light color
  • No ovisac produced
  • Anal filaments present and about one-half the length of the body
  • Long glassy rods on back

     This is the Solenopsis mealybug, Phenacoccus solenopsis Tinsley. Notice the short to medium sized waxy filaments around the body, absence of long tails and the two dark stripes on either side of the middle “ridge” of the body.  This species produces an egg mass or ovisac.
  • Short filaments around body
  • 2 dark stripes on the back
  • Anal filaments about  one-forth the length of the body
  • Long glassy rods on back

     Damage caused by the Solenopsis mealybug to hibiscus. Similar damage is produced by the Pink Hibiscus mealybug.

     This is the Papaya mealybug, Paracoccus marginatus Willams. Notice the lack of waxy filaments around the body, absence of long tails and no obvious stripes. This species produces an egg mass or ovisac.
  • No short filaments around body
  • Yellow to light green body and eggs
  • Body covered with a light "dusting" of wax

Body fluid                          Egg masses with an adult female hidden inside.

     This is Hypogeococcus pungens  (Granara de Willink). This species is one that may be confused for the Pink hibiscus mealybug.  The body is pink to red in color. There are no lateral filaments, the body fluid, when the insect is squashed, is pink to reddish brown.  One characteristic that might be useful in the separation of the two species is that adult females of this species are VERY concealed in the cottony egg mass.  The cottony material must be teased away in order to even see the female.  Adults of the Pink hibiscus mealybug are MUCH more conspicuous.  Most of the colonies of H. pungens are in the leaf and stem axils.  This mealybug is commonly found on Portulaca, Acalypha, and Alternanthera ficoidea R. Br. ex Roum. & Schult. (Josephs Coat).
  • No short filaments around body
  • Pink to red body and eggs
  • Body covered with a light "dusting" of wax
  • Adult females concealed in egg mass
  • Pink to reddish brown body fluids.
                                  Exotic Palmicultor mealybugs in Florida

     Over the last 10 year, three exotic Palmicultor mealybugs have established in Florida: Palmicultor browni (1995), Palmicultor palmorum (1999), and Palmicultor lumpurensis (2002). In the field, the red to brown bodies of these species are covered with a fine, white wax. Due to their body coloration, Palmicultor mealybugs may superficially resemble pink hibiscus mealybug. Specimens must be slide-mounted in order to confirm genus and species-level identification. Palmicultor browni and P. palmorum both infest palms, particularly Veitchia spp. These mealybugs may cause significant dieback in palms. Currently, they are the most commonly collected mealybugs in south Florida palms by FDACS-DPI inspectors. Palmicultor lumpurensis is a pest of bamboo, particularly Arundinaria and Bambusa spp. High populations can result in the abortion of new shoots. More information is available at: http://www.doacs.state.fl.us/pi/enpp/ento/t-lumpurensis.html

Known County Distributions (July 2004):

P. browni: Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Lee

P. palmorum: Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Polk, Flagler

P. lumpurensis: Broward, Lake, Orange, Seminole, Volusia

 

P. browni P. palmorum

Photos courtesy of FDACS-DPI

This information was kindly provided by:

Dr. Amanda Hodges

University of Florida

Entomology and Nematology Department

Natural Area Drive

PO Box 110620

Gainesville, FL 32611-0620

Dr. Greg Hodges

Taxonomic Entomologist (Coccoidea and Aleyrodidae)

FDACS-DPI

Gainesville, FL 32614-7100

 

 

     This is the Banana mealybug, Pseudococcus elisae Borchsenius. It has recently been found in the United States.  This mealybug has been found infesting Aglaonema plants in Florida.

     Characteristics for Jack Beardsley mealybug ( Pseudococcus jackbeardsleyi) which is present in Florida and looks very much like the Banana mealybug.

  • No stripes on the back
  • Thin filaments present around the body
  • Ovisac covering hind part of body
  • Anal filaments about  one-half length of body or more
The Pink Hibiscus Mealybug

TO GO TO THE PINK HIBISCUS MEALYBUG PAGE

PLEASE CLICK HERE!

VARIOU1.JPG       
Mealybug colonies contain immature as well as mature females. Note that the larger mealybugs are darker in color and covered with significantly more white waxy material.
  • Color reddish brown or pink
  • Fringe absent
  • No stripes on the back
  • Body fluid dark red 
  • Anal filaments short 
  • Ovisac irregular and beneath the body
     More information on mealybugs can be viewed at "Insect and Related Pests of Flowers and Foliage Plants". Click here!
     Dr. Kent Daane (UC Berkeley) maintains an excellent website entitled "Mealybugs in
California Vineyards". 
 Click here!

 

All photos are the property of Lance S. Osborne ( lsosborn@ufl.edu ) and the University of Florida.  Please ask permission before using!  I would appreciate any comments concerning the content of this page (errors, omissions....). 

Lance S. Osborne: lsosborn@ufl.edu
Copyright © 2000 [University of Florida, MREC]. All rights reserved.
Revised: February 02, 2010.

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