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Mealy Bug & Its Control 

Common Name:

Pink Hibiscus Bug

Latin Name:

Maconellicocouis hirsutus

Size:

Between 1/8th and 1/5th of an inch or between 2mm and 5mm. 

Colour:

Mealy bugs bodies can be white to an off pink colour, they usually excrete a pinkish fluid when squashed.

Transfer:

Mealy Bugs find their way to other plants by hitching rides with humans or animals. Juvenile mealy bugs can crawl from an infected plant to another plant.

       

 Mealy bug Description:  

One of the most common pests to occur in succulent, amateur and enthusiast alike, collections.  These pests can do severe damage to your plants if they are left unchecked.  Mealy bugs can be quite difficult to control as they have a waxy coating over their bodies and they tend to infest the more hard to reach areas of plants. 

Adult female is approximately 3 mm long and 1.5 mm wide, oval shaped and wingless. It has two short inconspicuous wax caudal filaments and covered with white mealy powder, hence looks whitish in colour and is less active than crawlers. It has an ovisac in which lays eggs. Females die shortly after depositing eggs.   

From the sacs of eggs many nymphs/crawlers emerge. The crawlers are very active and agile and pale in colour. In the early stage red eyes of crawlers are conspicuous. Later on they get covered with white powder. Newly hatched crawlers prefer the apical and tender regions of a host plant but under field conditions, older parts of the plant may harbour large position.   

Only male nymphs/crawlers of this bug after three stages pass into pupa. Adults males are smaller than females, have one pair of wings. Males have two long waxy “tails”. They have non-functional mouth parts and live only for few days.     

Mealy bugs are soft-bodied, wingless insects up to 4mm in length, they are white to pink in colour.  Adult mealy bugs are covered in white waxy threads and a waxy coating which makes them so difficult to eradicate.   They can be found on leaves (esp. the axil), stems and roots (root mealy bug). 

Mealy bugs have sucking mouthparts that they use to extract large amount of sap from the host plant.  These insects extract a large amount of sap in order to obtain enough proteins, the excess sap is excreted as honeydew.  The excreted honeydew attracts ants and sooty mould which inhibits the plants ability to manufacture food.

Signs of Mealy bug Infestation:  

Non-infected plants can be infected from infected plats as mealy bugs can crawl from plant to plant.  Humans and animals may infect non-infected plants as they may be carried from one plant to the other. 

Examine the foliage for individual bugs by looking at the upper and lower areas of the leaves, the axis (where the leaves join the stem), look between leaves especially tightly packed leaves and rosettes.  Severe infestations resemble patches of cotton all over the plant.  Look for honeydew and sooty mould. Another sign is the presence of ants. Ants are attracted to the honeydew that is excreted by the mealy bugs. 

Damage Done by Mealy bug:  

Plants will seldom die of these pests due to heavy infestations being unsightly (you just can't miss it).  Mealy bugs excrete a honeydew that attracts ants and possibly black sooty mould.  The ants and the sooty mould do not do much damage but rather makes the plant look unsightly. Mealy Bugs will kill off leaves and if left unchecked they will kill the plant. Mealy bugs also effect the development of flowers and stems (especially in succulents with fleshy stems). 

Treatment of Mealy bug: 

Biological control : 

 Introduce Hypoaspis and/or Cryptolaemus (Australian Ladybird)  to the infected plants.  Hypoaspis is a small mite that feeds on small insects, especially mealy bug. 

Cultural Control:-  

-Water should be used @ 125 Litres/acre for cotton & double for other crops.

-Stems should also be sprayed along with the leaves.
-Soil around the stem must be sprayed.
-Second application should be applied as soon as possible.
-Most affected plants uprooted and burnt.
-Land should be thoroughly prepared, so that eggs may be destroyed.
-Weeding should be done on time.
-In initial stages all the effected plants & its parts should be destroyed by burning.
-Chloropyrephos @ two litres/acre should be applied through water
-This pests mostly spread in other areas of field during the picking time, therefore, cotton pickers should be guided accordingly. 

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