Mealybug on citrus

Mealybug

Hello, I’m Mealybug

ALIASES

Pink hibiscus mealybug, grape mealybug, papaya mealybug, citrus mealybug

DESCRIBE YOURSELF

I’m about 4mm long, and I’m covered in a lovely layer of white powder. Although I may look harmless, I have a voracious appetite and enjoy hanging out with my mates on the cool undersides of leaves and stems.

KNOWN ASSOCIATES

I love hanging out with ants. They are my friends and help me move around from plant to plant. Ants like to feed on the honeydew I produce when I suck the sap out of plants. I’m also really good friends with Black Sooty mold. They are a bit late coming to the party, but often they are the first sign that lets people know I’ve been visiting.

WHERE DO I HANG OUT

I really love hanging out on Citrus trees like grapefruit and lemons. I also love roses, orchids, ferns, loads of ornamental plants and thrive in shade houses, where I keep warm. I love hot, humid weather… it just makes me want to breed!

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU’VE BEEN MUGGED

New growth on your plant looks weird and the plant has a sprinkling of white furry stuff on leaves. In bad infestations you can see rows of me and my mates hanging out along the veins of leaves, in the joins between branches and all up and down the stems. In autumn you will notice me around the base of trees as my friends the ants help me move south for winter.

MODUS OPERANDI

I love nothing more than sucking sap from leaves and stems! Exuding honeydew is a special talent, which encourages my friend sooty mold to grow on your plant’s leaves. I also release toxic saliva that can seriously damage your plants.

HOW DO YOU MAKE ME FEEL UNWELCOME

Encourage predatory mites. This is pretty easy, especially if you use compost, manures and mulch your soil! They love this stuff. You can also buy some predatory bugs and let them loose (see Good Bugs in your garden #1). Spray your plants with lime sulphur over winter. Spray infected plants with Neem oil and a few drops of vegetable oil as this will poison me as well as helping to smother me or use homemade (or commercial) pest oil made from soap and vegetable oil. Get my friends to stop coming around! Ants look after scale, so try controlling ants by painting the trunks of trees with a mix of lime sulphur and diluted ceiling paint as ants don’t like walking over this.