Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae


Mealybugs are soft, oval, wax-covered insects that are usually found in colonies. They have piercing-sucking mouthparts that sap out of the leaves and stems of plants and produce abundant honeydew. These little white bugs can be found anywhere on the plants but are mostly found on new growth, along the veins of leaves, and at the leaf joints.

Life Cycle

Mealybugs have three life stages: egg, nymph, and adult. Adult females of most mealybugs lay up to 600 eggs in cottony egg sacs on plant crowns, leaves, fruits, or bark. Newly hatched mealybug nymphs (called crawlers) are yellow to orangish, lack wax, and are quite mobile. Crawlers mature in about six weeks to two months. Then, they begin to excrete a waxy covering and settle down on plants to feed. Older nymphs and female adults have legs and can move, but they prefer to settle in one spot to feed and do not move very far. Male mealybugs look completely different. They have wings and can fly leaf to leaf seeking females to mate with. Depending on species and environment, mealybugs may have two to six generations per year.


Mealybugs damage plants by sucking sap resulting in yellowing leaves, and stunting, and in high populations causing the death of the plants. Also, mealybugs produce sticky honeydew which can cover leaves and secondary injury occurs when black sooty mold grows on top of honeydew or ants feed on honeydew. Among fruit trees, citrus, stone fruits, and pome fruits have the most problems. Mealybugs can build up in grapes, especially the vine mealybug, which attacks root as well as aboveground parts. Some woody ornamental plants and herbaceous perennials including cacti, coral bells, figs, hibiscus, and jasmine can be infested by mealybugs as well.


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