Mexican Mealybugs

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Adult- The female Mexican mealybug adult is 3 to 4 mm long, oval, grayish and covered with a thin waxy secretion. There are three parallel rows of small waxy tufts down the back. This insect is a short-tailed mealybug (the caudal filaments do not exceed 1/4 the body length). The lateral filaments are also short. Males are small gnatlike insects with only two wings. Adult Mexican mealybug males have four waxy, posterior filaments. Eggs- The egg sac is white, dense, narrow, and longer than the female secreting it. Nymphs- The nymphs are small and yellowish with white waxy secretions.


Fig. 108: Mexican mealybug, Phenacoccus gossypii Townsend and Cockerell, Pseudococcidae, HOMOPTERA

 Adult female. Closely related mealybugs: Phenacoccus madeiresis Green   ZOOM
                                                              Phenacoccus solani Ferris     ZOOM
                                                                Unknown species   ZOOM
                                                                        To see pictures of the damage casused by this mealybug click HERE!


Distribution- From Mexico the mealybug has spread throughout the United States, Hawaii, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. It survives in greenhouses and on houseplants in temperate climates and outdoors in subtropical areas of the United States. Host Plants- The Mexican mealybug is found commonly on numerous ornamental plants, a few of which are aralia, chrysanthemum, English ivy, geranium, Gynura, hollyhock, Ixia, lantana, and poinsettia. This insect is also a minor pest of lima beans in the warmer parts of the United States. Damage- Wilting and stunting are common symptoms of Mexican mealybug attack. This insect can be as damaging as the citrus mealybug. The mealybugs and ovisacs also disfigure heavily infested plants. Life History- In the greenhouse, the Mexican mealybug may have seven complete generations in one year. The average time required from oviposition to the adult stage is 47 days. Each female deposits about 400 eggs. The eggs are enclosed in an elongate cottony mass called the ovisac that originates at the back of the female. The ovisac is about 6 mm long. The eggs hatch in 6 to 14 days. The life cycles of the male and female Mexican mealybugs differ. A female passes through three nymphal stages only. Male Mexican mealybugs pass through two nymphal stages and two resting stages (prepupal and pupal stages). Normally, these mealybugs are found above ground on the leaves, stems or flowers, but occasionally will be found feeding on the roots.



For chemical control recommendations, see the current Cooperative Extension publications on ornamental plant pest management or consult your county Extension agent.

University of Florida/IFAS Reference to Pest Control Guides