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Pest Information

Pink hibiscus mealybug

  • Latin Name: Maconellicoccus hirsutus
  • Common Name: Pink hibiscus mealybug
  • Other Names: Pink mealybug, Hibiscus mealybug

Pest Details

Origin:

This mealybug is native to Southeast Asia but was discovered in the Caribbean in 1994 and in Florida in 2002, and it continues to expand its range in the U.S. It also now is found in Africa, Australia, and South America.

Biology:

Despite its common name this insect poses a serious threat to a great many plants, including crops such as citrus, avocado, mango, sugarcane, beans, cabbage, tomato and many others, as well as a wide variety of ornamental plants including palm, oleander, and others. Females lay up to 600 eggs in sacs on the host plants. The life cycle from egg to adult takes less than 1 month and up to 15 generations are possible in one year in warm climates. The overwintering stage is the eggs that may be found almost anywhere on or near the plants, including in crevices in the bark, in tree holes, under loose bark, in the soil, within crumpled leaf clusters, or other materials adhering to the plant.

Identification:

The adult male resembles a tiny pink to orange wasp and has wings. The adult female is about 3 mm long and pink but covered with a thin layer of soft, white wax. The immature stages also are pink to orange in color and are mobile, easily moving around on the plant. Immatures often will be found feeding in large clusters.

Characteristicts Important to Control:

Because of its recent introduction to the U.S. an effective control program is still to be determined. Predatory and parasitic insects will help, and there is hope that a natural enemy may be found in its native regions. According to a 1998 article on it from University of Florida chemical controls may have minimal effectiveness, but systemic insecticides applied to the soil may offer some hope.

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