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Did you spot some white and fluffy insects in your crop? That must be mealybugs such as the citrus mealybug Planococcus citri, the obscure mealybug Pseudococcus affinis or the long-tailed mealybug Pseudococcus longispinus. These mealybug species cause damage all over the world in areas with a moist and warm climate. Feeding on plant sap, mealybugs damage a wide range of vegetable crops, fruit crops and ornamentals. Do you also want to take action against these mealybug species with biological control?

What damage can mealybugs cause?

  • Mealybugs cover the stems and leaf nodes with white and fluffy wax.
  • They suck plant sap and excrete the excess of sugar as honeydew due to which the leaves, stems and fruit become sticky.
  • The surface turns black as sooty mould grows on the honeydew, which negatively affects the photosynthesis of the plant.
  • Severe infestations reduce the health and growth of the plant resulting in wilting.

How to control mealybugs?

To monitor winged males, you can rely on specific pheromones combined with a trap such as the Delta Trap® or sticky traps such as Bug-Scan®.

For biological control of this species, you can introduce:

What are the characteristics of mealybugs?

  • Eggs are laid in a cotton-like pouch.
  • The mobile young nymphs disperse in order to find suitable feeding spots.
  • Mealybugs are sexual dimorphic, which means that females look totally different than males.
  • Males are tiny wasps that are rarely seen in the crop.
  • Females are covered with white, waxy threads. They appear as full-grown nymphs.
  • Females and nymphs live in clusters in protected places such as the leaf axils and underneath loose bark.

What about the mealybug’s life cycle?

  • Females lay 300 up to 500 eggs, which takes them 5 to 10 days. After laying the eggs, the females die.
  • As their life cycle depends on the temperature, it takes them about 90 days to develop from egg to adult at 18 °C/ 64 °F and 30 days at 30 °C/ 86 °F.
  • Mealybugs have 3 nymphal stages.
  • Only the males undergo a complete transformation to emerge as winged adults. This is called a metamorphosis.

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