The invasive mealybug Maconellicoccus hirsutus: lessons for its current range expansion in South America and invasive pest management in general.
The invasive mealybug Maconellicoccus hirsutus (Green) (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) is a plant feeding insect believed to be native to Southern Asia or Australia. This mealybug has become established in many regions throughout the world (including the Caribbean and North America) in the past 100 years and is currently expanding its range in South America. Because this insect is of concern as a potential pest of many plant species, this review is provided to summarize knowledge of M. hirsutus based on past research that may be most useful for addressing the current invasion of South America by the species, and to identify gaps in information that may need to be addressed to inhibit the spread of the insect and improve management methods for this and similar organisms. In most areas into which M. hirsutus has expanded its range it is commonly suppressed by native or introduced natural enemies. Therefore, besides preventing introduction, establishment and spread of this potential pest, efforts should be made to determine if natural enemies of M. hirsutus are present in areas of concern (i.e., where the mealybug may be introduced and become established). Such information will enable determination of the need for introduction or augmentation of biological control agents in response to possible entry and establishment of the mealybug in new areas. Methods developed in response to the recent invasion of the Caribbean and North America by M. hirsutus may serve as models for addressing the threat of this and similar invasive pests in South America and elsewhere.