Greenhouse mealy bug Planococcus citri

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Damage. This pest, a distant relative of the aphid, spoils the appearance of glasshouse crops, particularly orchids, Coleus species, cacti and Solanum species. All of the stages except the egg suck phloem juices by means of a tubular mouthpart (stylet), and when this pest is present in dense masses it produces honey dew and may cause leaf drop (see Figure 14.11).

Mealybugs Life Cycle
Figure 14.11 (a) Mealy bug (b) Brown scale

Life cycle. Being a tropical species, it develops most quickly in high temperatures and humidities, and at 30°C completes a life cycle within about 22 days. The adult measures about 3 mm in length and produces fine waxy threads.

  1. Adults have wings, but the most important spread is by introduction of plant material newly infested with small nymphs, or from plant to plant when leaves are touching.
  2. Mealy bugs are difficult pests to control, as the thick cuticle resists chemical sprays, and the droplets fall off the waxy threads. An introduced tropical ladybird, Cryptolaemus montrouzieri, is commercially available for controlling the pest and is most effective at temperatures above 20°C. Spray products containing pure fatty acids are effective against this pest and are available to both amateur and professional horticulturists.

A recently reported related problem on beech has been the woolly beech aphid (Phyllapis fagi).

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