Damaging sap-sucking pest found in warm moist habitats worldwide. Generates tell-tale white, fluffy wax on stem and leaf nodes and encourages sooty mould.

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  • Various species – including citrus mealybug Planococcus citri, the obscure mealybug Pseudococcus viburni (affinis) or the long-tailed mealybug Pseudococcus longispinus
  • Eggs laid in cotton-like pouch
  • Mobile young nymphs disperse to find suitable feeding spots
  • Easily spread by crop workers – once resident difficult to eradicate as will find their way into greenhouse structures 
  • Sexually dimorphic – females look totally different to males. Females covered in white waxy threads, males are rarely seen tiny wasps
  • Females live in clusters with nymphs in protected places – such as leaf axils and under loose bark

Life cycle

  • Thrive in warm conditions
  • Highly fecund – females lay 300-500 egg over 5 to 10 days before dying
  • Temperature dependent lifecycle – egg to adult takes 90 days at 18 °C/ 64 °F and 30 days at 30 °C/ 86 °F 
  • Only males metamorphose (undergo complete transformation) – emerging as winged adults

Damage caused

  • Early detections key for successful biological control 
  • Stems and leaf nodes covered in fluffy white wax
  • Sticky leaves and stems as sap-sucking pest excretes excess sugar as honeydew
  • Photosynthesis impacted by black sooty mould growing on the honeydew
  • Severe infestations reduce plant health and growth – resulting in wilting


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