Maconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Growth Stages
- List of Symptoms/Signs
- Biology and Ecology
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Vectors
- Plant Trade
- Wood Packaging
- Impact Summary
- Environmental Impact
- Social Impact
- Detection and Inspection
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Maconellicoccus hirsutus (Green, 1908)
Preferred Common Name
- pink hibiscus mealybug
Other Scientific Names
- Maconellicoccus pasaniae (Borchsenius) Tang, 1992
- Maconellicoccus perforatus (DeLotto) DeLotto, 1964
- Paracoccus pasaniae Borchsenius, 1962
- Phenacoccus glomeratus Green, 1922
- Phenacoccus hirsutus Green, 1908
- Phenacoccus quaternus Ramakrishna Ayyar, 1921
- Pseudococcus hibisci Hall, 1921
- Spilococcus perforatus De Lotto, 1954
International Common Names
- English: hibiscus mealybug; hirsutus mealybug; pink mealybug
- French: cochenille de l'Hibiscus
Local Common Names
- Germany: Schmierlaus, Hibiscus-
- India: grape mealybug; mulberry mealybug
- PHENHI (Maconellicoccus hirsutus)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page M. hirsutus is highly invasive if introduced in the absence of its natural enemies, as demonstrated by its rapid spread through the Caribbean Islands and beyond in spite of plant quarantine strengthening throughout the region. Without natural controls it had a devastating impact on the agriculture, natural forests and tourism of Grenada (Peters and Watson, 1999), damaging foreign exchange, trade in agricultural products, and the local ecology and water economy.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Uniramia
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Hemiptera
- Suborder: Sternorrhyncha
- Unknown: Coccoidea
- Family: Pseudococcidae
- Genus: Maconellicoccus
- Species: Maconellicoccus hirsutus
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page Maconellicoccus hirsutus was described from India as Phenacoccus hirsutus by Green (1908). Ezzat (1958) subsequently designated it as the type species of the genus Maconellicoccus. Williams (1996) says the genus currently consists of eight species (native to Australia (4), Africa (1), southern Asia (2) and Nepal (1)).
DescriptionTop of page Crawlers (0.3 mm long) are pink. Immature females and newly matured females have greyish-pink bodies dusted with mealy white wax. The adult female is 2.5-4 mm long, soft-bodied, elongate oval and slightly flattened; on maturation, she begins to secrete sticky, elastic, white wax filaments from her abdomen to form a protective ovisac for her eggs. As her pinkish-grey body fills with salmon-pink eggs it assumes a pink colour, but this is often not immediately visible because the entire colony tends to become covered by white, waxy ovisac material. When the sticky ovisac wax is parted with a needle, clusters of pink eggs and pink to grey females become visible. On microscopic examination of slide-mounted females, the combination of 9-segmented antennae, anal lobe bars, numerous dorsal oral rim ducts on all parts of the body except the limbs and long, flagellate dorsal setae make the species fairly easy to recognize in parts of the world where other Maconellicoccus species do not occur. Males have one pair of very simple wings, long antennae, white wax filaments projecting posteriorly and lack mouthparts.
DistributionTop of page
M. hirsutus is probably native to southern Asia (Williams, 1996) and has been accidentally introduced to other parts of the world (most recently to North America (California, Florida and Mexico) and the Caribbean, where it has spread to more than 25 territories and is still extending its range (Kairo et al., 2000)). It occurs as far north as Lebanon, so there is no reason why it should not be able to colonize the southern USA, southern Europe and parts of the Middle East where it is not yet known (for example, Israel).
Green's (1908) description included material from Tasmania, but this is now regarded as a separate species, M. tasmaniae (Williams, 1985).
Further notes on the list of countries:
Within the British Virgin Islands M. hirsutus has been recorded on Tortola (CABI/EPPO, 1997) and Virgin Gorda and St. Thomas (Natural History Museum collection, London, UK).
M. hirsutus is also present on St. Barthelemy, Guadeloupe (Etienne et al., 1988).
The records for Indonesia, Nusa Tenggara, come from the Lesser Sunda Islands (CABI/EPPO, 1997) and Lombok (Williams, 1996).
An erroneous record for Algeria in Ben-Dov (1994) was based on a misinterpretation of Balachowsky (1926), which mentioned the threat to Algeria posed by M. hirsutus. This was taken up in the CABI/EPPO (1997) distribution map and previous editions of the Compendium.
A record of M. hirsutus in Zambia (Williams, 1996; CABI/EPPO, 2004) published in previous versions of the Compendium was erroneous. Williams (1996) mentions Zambia in the distribution list for M. hirsutus, but this is based on a record of interception of the pest in Chicago, USA, and is considered invalid as a record of M. hirsutus in Zambia. There is no record of M. hirsutus in Zambia in CABI/EPPO (2004).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Bangladesh||Present||Native||Not invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Brunei Darussalam||Present||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Cambodia||Present||Native||Not invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|China||Restricted distribution||Native||Not invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Guangdong||Present||Native||Not invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Hong Kong||Present||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Macau||Present||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Shanxi||Present||Native||Not invasive||Tao, 1999; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Tibet||Present||Native||Not invasive||Wong et a., 1999; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Yunnan||Present||Native||Not invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|India||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Andaman and Nicobar Islands||Present||Native||Not invasive||Williams, 1996; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Andhra Pradesh||Present||Native||Not invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Assam||Present||Native||Not invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Bihar||Present||Native||Not invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Delhi||Present||Native||Not invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Gujarat||Present||Native||Not invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Indian Punjab||Present||Native||Not invasive||Sharma, 2011; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Karnataka||Present||Native||Not invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Kerala||Present||Native||Not invasive||EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Madhya Pradesh||Present||Native||Not invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Maharashtra||Present||Native||Not invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Odisha||Present||Native||Not invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Tamil Nadu||Present||Native||Not invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Tripura||Present||Native||Not invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Uttar Pradesh||Present||Native||Not invasive||Akhilesh and Nandita, 2014; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-West Bengal||Present||Native||Not invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Indonesia||Widespread||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Irian Jaya||Present||Williams and Watson, 1988; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Java||Present||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Nusa Tenggara||Present||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Sulawesi||Present||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Sumatra||Present||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Iran||Present||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Israel||Present||Spodek et al., 2016|
|Japan||Restricted distribution||Miller et al., 1998; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Ryukyu Archipelago||Present||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Laos||Present||Native||Not invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Lebanon||Present||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Malaysia||Present||Native||Not invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Peninsular Malaysia||Present||Native||Not invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Maldives||Present||Native||Not invasive||Watson et al., 1995; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Myanmar||Present||Native||Not invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Nepal||Present||Native||Not invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Oman||Present||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Pakistan||Present||Native||Not invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Philippines||Present||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Saudi Arabia||Present||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Singapore||Present||Native||Not invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Sri Lanka||Present||Native||Not invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Taiwan||Present||Wong et al., 1999; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Thailand||Present||Native||Not invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|United Arab Emirates||Present||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Vietnam||Present||Native||Not invasive||NHM, 1922; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Yemen||Present||Marotta et al., 2001; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Algeria||Absent, invalid record||EPPO, 2014|
|Benin||Restricted distribution||Introduced||Williams, 1996; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Burkina Faso||Present||Introduced||Williams, 1986; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Cameroon||Present||Introduced||Williams, 1986; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Central African Republic||Present||Introduced||Williams, 1986; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Chad||Present||Introduced||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Congo||Present||Introduced||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Congo Democratic Republic||Present||Introduced||Miller et al., 1998; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Côte d'Ivoire||Present||Introduced||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Egypt||Present||Introduced||Invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Gabon||Present||Introduced||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Gambia||Present||Introduced||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Kenya||Present||Introduced||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Liberia||Present||Introduced||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Niger||Present||Introduced||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Nigeria||Present||Introduced||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Réunion||Present||Germain, 2013; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Senegal||Present||Introduced||Tsacas and Chassagnard, 1999; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Seychelles||Present||Introduced||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Somalia||Present||Introduced||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Sudan||Present||Introduced||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Tanzania||Present||Introduced||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Tunisia||Present||Ben Halima-Kamel et al., 2015; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Socotra||Present||Miller et al., 1998|
|Zambia||Absent, invalid record||Williams, 1996; EPPO, 2014|
|Mexico||Present, few occurrences||Introduced||1999||Invasive||Anon., 2000a; Matile-Ferrero et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015; Villatoro-Moreno et al., 2016|
|USA||Restricted distribution||1999||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Alabama||Absent, reported but not confirmed||CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-California||Restricted distribution||Introduced||1999||Invasive||Anon., 2000a; Matile-Ferrero et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Florida||Restricted distribution||Introduced||2002||Invasive||Meyerdirk and DeChi, 2005; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Georgia||Absent, reported but not confirmed||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Hawaii||Present||Introduced||1983||Invasive||Williams, 1996; Kairo et al., 2000; Heu, 2002; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Louisiana||Absent, reported but not confirmed||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-New York||Absent, reported but not confirmed||CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-North Carolina||Absent, reported but not confirmed||CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Oklahoma||Absent, reported but not confirmed||CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-South Carolina||Absent, reported but not confirmed||Chong, 2009; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Tennessee||Absent, reported but not confirmed||CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Texas||Absent, reported but not confirmed||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
Central America and Caribbean
|Anguilla||Absent, reported but not confirmed||Introduced||1996/1997||Invasive||Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Antigua and Barbuda||Present||Introduced||2001||Invasive||Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Aruba||Present||Introduced||1997||Invasive||Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Bahamas||Present||Introduced||2000||Invasive||Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Barbados||Present||Introduced||2000||Invasive||Anon., 2000b; Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Belize||Present||Introduced||1999||Invasive||Anon., 2000a; Kairo et al., 2000; Meyerdirk and DeChi, 2005; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|British Virgin Islands||Present||Introduced||1997||Invasive||Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Cayman Islands||Present||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Costa Rica||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014; IPPC, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015; IPPC, 2017|
|Curaçao||Present||Introduced||1997||Invasive||Pollard, 1997; Kairo et al., 2000|
|Dominica||Present||Introduced||2001||Invasive||Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Dominican Republic||Absent, unreliable record||Introduced||2002||Invasive||Meyerdirk and DeChi, 2005; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Grenada||Restricted distribution||Introduced||1994||Invasive||Etienne et al., 1998; Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Guadeloupe||Present||Introduced||1998||Invasive||Etienne et al., 1998; Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Guatemala||Absent, unreliable record||EPPO, 2014|
|Haiti||Present||Introduced||2002||Invasive||Meyerdirk and DeChi, 2005; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Jamaica||Restricted distribution||IPPC, 2008; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Martinique||Present||Introduced||1999||Invasive||Anon., 2000a; Matile-Ferrero et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Montserrat||Present||Introduced||1998||Invasive||Pollard, 1998; Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Netherlands Antilles||Present||Introduced||1996||Invasive||Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Puerto Rico||Present||Introduced||1997||Invasive||Anon., 2000a; Lemon and Borland, 1997; Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||Present||Introduced||1995||Invasive||Anon., 2000a; Etienne et al., 1998; Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Saint Lucia||Present||Introduced||1996||Invasive||Kairo et al., 2000; Jn Pierre, 2008; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||Present||Introduced||1997||Invasive||Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Sint Maarten||Present||Introduced||1996||Invasive||Matile-Ferrero and Etienne, 1996; Etienne et al., 1998|
|Trinidad and Tobago||Present||Introduced||1995||Invasive||Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|United States Virgin Islands||Present||Introduced||1997||Invasive||Lemon and Borland, 1997; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Brazil||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Alagoas||Present||Broglio et al., 2015; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Espirito Santo||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Roraima||Present||Introduced||Marsaro et al., 2013; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Sao Paulo||Present||Peronti et al., 2016|
|Colombia||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Kondo et al., 2012; Montes Rodríguez, 2012; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|French Guiana||Present||Introduced||1997||Invasive||Matile-Ferrero et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Guyana||Widespread||Introduced||1997||Invasive||Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Suriname||Restricted distribution||Introduced||Invasive||Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Venezuela||Present||Introduced||1999||Invasive||Kairo et al., 2000; Cermeli et al., 2002; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Cyprus||Widespread||EPPO, 2011; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Australia||Present||Introduced||Invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Australian Northern Territory||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Goolsby et al., 2002; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Queensland||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Goolsby et al., 2002; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-South Australia||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Miller et al., 1998; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|-Western Australia||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Goolsby et al., 2002; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Fiji||Present||Hodgson and Lagowska, 2011; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Guam||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Ben-Dov, 1994; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Micronesia, Federated states of||Restricted distribution||Introduced||Invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Northern Mariana Islands||Present||Reddy et al., 2009; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Palau||Present||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Papua New Guinea||Widespread||Williams and Watson, 1988; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Samoa||Present||Introduced||Invasive||NHM, 1999; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Solomon Islands||Present||Simmonds, 1964; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Tonga||Present||Introduced||Williams and Watson, 1988; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Trust Territory of Pacific Islands||Present||Introduced||1997||Invasive||Meyerdirk, 1997; Kairo et al., 2000|
|Tuvalu||Present||Introduced||Williams and Watson, 1988; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
|Vanuatu||Present||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page The recent introductions noted in the distribution table were all accidental:
French Guiana, 1997; Mexico, California and Martinique, 1999 (Matile-Ferrero et al., 2000); Florida, Dominican Republic and Haiti, 2002 (Meyerdirk and DeChi, 2005); Grenada, 1994 and Guadeloupe, 1998 (Etienne et al., 1998); US Virgin Islands, 1997 (Lemon and Borland, 1997). Kairo et al. (2000) give the following introduction dates: Hawaii (1983), Anguilla (1996), Bahamas (2000), Barbados (2000), Belize (1999), British Virgin Islands (1997), Curaçao (1997), Dominica (2001), Montserrat (1998), Sint Maarten/St Martin (1996), St Eustatius (1997), Puerto Rico (1997), St Kitts and Nevis (1995), St Lucia (1996), St Vincent and the Grenadines (1997), Trinidad and Tobago (1995 and 1996 respectively), US Trust Territories (1997), Guyana (1997) and Venezuela (1999).
Risk of IntroductionTop of page Plant material imported from areas infested by M. hirsutus presents the greatest risk to non-infested countries between 7° and 30° latitude.
Since its appearance in the Caribbean region in 1994/1995, M. hirsutus is regarded as of high quarantine importance by the CPPC. The mealybug is regarded as a plant quarantine threat to Colombia (Caicedo Ramirez and Suarez Alba, 2000), Honduras (Roberto Padilla, 2000) and other North, Central and South American countries not yet affected.
Accidental introduction to new territories is highly possible through the movement of infested living plant material through shipping or air transport/ mail, particularly of ornamental plants, cut flowers, vegetative propogation other than meristem culture, fruit and vegetables.
It may be advisable for plant quarantine services to make available a list of countries already infested, and to regulate trade in fresh plant material from these countries. Trade between Caribbean countries has continued in spite of the mealybug problem, through a system of inspection of source areas and pre-export certification of shipments being free of infection. Planting material of host-plant species of M. hirsutus should be inspected in the growing season previous to shipment and be found free of infestation. A phytosanitary certificate should guarantee absence of the pest from consignments of either planting material or produce. Any shipments of fresh plant material from an infested country to one that is not yet infested but could be, should be examined thoroughly to detect M. hirsutus.
As the mealybug has no known beneficial effects, it seems unlikely that deliberate introduction would occur except for malicious purposes.
HabitatTop of page M. hirsutus forms dense colonies in cracks and crevices. The severe distortion of new growth caused by the mealybug on many hosts, creates a microhabitat for them (Ghose, 1972a; Beardsley, 1985). These colonies can be difficult or impossible for natural enemies to reach, especially coccinellid predators.
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page M. hirsutus is highly polyphagous and has been recorded feeding on hosts from 76 plant families (Ben-Dov and German, 2003) and over 200 plant genera (Levy, 1996); it shows some preference for hosts in the families Malvaceae, Leguminosae and Moraceae. Mani (1989), Garland (1998), Miller et al. (1998) and Ben-Dov and German (2003) give extensive host lists. When introduced to tropical countries in the absence of any natural enemies, M. hirsutus attacks a wide range of (usually woody) plants including agricultural, horticultural and forest species. It has been recorded attacking cotton and soyabean, both annuals that are rarely attacked by mealybugs (Williams, 1986). However, in the Caribbean it has only developed seriously damaging populations on fewer than 20 host-plant species (Kairo et al., 2000). If M. hirsutus spreads into the southern USA and southern Europe, it could threaten crops like grapes and cotton (Williams, 1996). One of the commonest, favoured hosts is Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. M. hirsutus can be reared in the laboratory on pumpkins, particularly those varieties with creases in the skin (Japanese pumpkin, Cucurbita moschata; acorn squash, Cucurbita pepo var. Turbinata) and on sprouting Irish potatoes (Mani, 1990; Meyerdirk, 1997; Serrano and Lapointe, 2002).
M. hirsutus forms dense colonies in cracks and crevices. The severe distortion of new growth caused by the mealybug on many hosts, creates a microhabitat for them (Ghose, 1972a; Beardsley, 1985). These colonies can be difficult or impossible for natural enemies to reach, especially coccinellid predators.
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
|Abelmoschus esculentus (okra)||Malvaceae||Main|
|Abutilon indicum (country mallow)||Malvaceae||Other|
|Albizia lebbeck (Indian siris)||Fabaceae||Other|
|Alpinia purpurata (red ginger)||Zingiberaceae||Main|
|Annona cherimola (cherimoya)||Annonaceae||Other|
|Annona muricata (soursop)||Annonaceae||Main|
|Annona reticulata (bullock's heart)||Annonaceae||Other|
|Annona squamosa (sugar apple)||Annonaceae||Main|
|Arachis hypogaea (groundnut)||Fabaceae||Other|
|Artocarpus (breadfruit trees)||Moraceae||Main|
|Artocarpus altilis (breadfruit)||Moraceae||Other|
|Asparagus officinalis (asparagus)||Liliaceae||Other|
|Averrhoa carambola (carambola)||Oxalidaceae||Main|
|Azadirachta indica (neem tree)||Meliaceae||Other|
|Bauhinia (camel's foot)||Fabaceae||Other|
|Boehmeria nivea (ramie)||Urticaceae||Main|
|Brassica oleracea (cabbages, cauliflowers)||Brassicaceae||Other|
|Cajanus cajan (pigeon pea)||Fabaceae||Main|
|Capsicum annuum (bell pepper)||Solanaceae||Other|
|Ceiba pentandra (kapok)||Bombacaceae||Other|
|Ceratonia siliqua (locust bean)||Fabaceae||Other|
|Chenopodium album (fat hen)||Chenopodiaceae||Other|
|Chrysanthemum coronarium (garland chrysanthemum)||Asteraceae||Other|
|Citrus aurantiifolia (lime)||Rutaceae||Other|
|Citrus sinensis (navel orange)||Rutaceae||Other|
|Citrus x paradisi (grapefruit)||Rutaceae||Other|
|Clitoria ternatea (butterfly-pea)||Fabaceae||Other|
|Codiaeum variegatum (croton)||Euphorbiaceae||Other|
|Coffea arabica (arabica coffee)||Rubiaceae||Other|
|Corchorus capsularis (white jute)||Tiliaceae||Other|
|Corchorus olitorius (jute)||Tiliaceae||Other|
|Cucumis sativus (cucumber)||Cucurbitaceae||Other|
|Cucurbita moschata (pumpkin)||Cucurbitaceae||Other|
|Cucurbita pepo (marrow)||Cucurbitaceae||Other|
|Diospyros kaki (persimmon)||Ebenaceae||Other|
|Dodonaea viscosa (switch sorrel)||Sapindaceae||Other|
|Erythrina variegata (Indian coral tree)||Fabaceae||Other|
|Ficus benghalensis (banyan)||Moraceae||Other|
|Ficus benjamina (weeping fig)||Moraceae||Other|
|Ficus carica (common fig)||Moraceae||Other|
|Ficus elastica (rubber plant)||Moraceae||Other|
|Glycine max (soyabean)||Fabaceae||Main|
|Gossypium arboreum (cotton, tree)||Malvaceae||Main|
|Gossypium herbaceum (short staple cotton)||Malvaceae||Main|
|Gossypium hirsutum (Bourbon cotton)||Malvaceae||Main|
|Helianthus annuus (sunflower)||Asteraceae||Other|
|Hevea brasiliensis (rubber)||Euphorbiaceae||Other|
|Hibiscus cannabinus (kenaf)||Malvaceae||Main|
|Hibiscus elatus (blue mahoe)||Malvaceae||Other|
|Hibiscus manihot (Hibiscus root)||Malvaceae||Other|
|Hibiscus mutabilis (cottonrose)||Malvaceae||Other|
|Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (China-rose)||Malvaceae||Main|
|Hibiscus sabdariffa (Roselle)||Malvaceae||Main|
|Hibiscus schizopetalus (fringed hibiscus)||Malvaceae||Other|
|Hibiscus tiliaceus (coast cottonwood)||Malvaceae||Other|
|Inga edulis (ice-cream bean)||Fabaceae||Other|
|Jasminum sambac (arabian jasmine)||Oleaceae||Other|
|Jatropha curcas (jatropha)||Euphorbiaceae||Other|
|Lactuca sativa (lettuce)||Asteraceae||Other|
|Lantana camara (lantana)||Verbenaceae||Other|
|Leucaena leucocephala (leucaena)||Fabaceae||Other|
|Malpighia glabra (acerola)||Malpighiaceae||Main|
|Malus sylvestris (crab-apple tree)||Rosaceae||Other|
|Malvaviscus arboreus (wax mallow)||Malvaceae||Other|
|Mangifera indica (mango)||Anacardiaceae||Other|
|Manihot esculenta (cassava)||Euphorbiaceae||Other|
|Manilkara zapota (sapodilla)||Sapotaceae||Main|
|Medicago sativa (lucerne)||Fabaceae||Other|
|Mimosa pigra (catclaw mimosa)||Fabaceae||Habitat/association|
|Mimosa pudica (sensitive plant)||Fabaceae||Other|
|Morus alba (mora)||Moraceae||Main|
|Musa x paradisiaca (plantain)||Musaceae||Main|
|Myrtus communis (myrtle)||Myrtaceae||Other|
|Nephelium lappaceum (rambutan)||Sapindaceae||Other|
|Nerium oleander (oleander)||Apocynaceae||Other|
|Parkinsonia aculeata (Mexican palo-verde)||Fabaceae||Other|
|Parthenium hysterophorus (parthenium weed)||Asteraceae||Other|
|Passiflora edulis (passionfruit)||Passifloraceae||Main|
|Persea americana (avocado)||Lauraceae||Main|
|Phaseolus vulgaris (common bean)||Fabaceae||Other|
|Phoenix dactylifera (date-palm)||Arecaceae||Other|
|Phoenix sylvestris (east Indian wine palm)||Arecaceae||Other|
|Phyllanthus niruri (seed-under-the-leaf)||Euphorbiaceae||Other|
|Prunus domestica (plum)||Rosaceae||Other|
|Prunus salicina (Japanese plum)||Rosaceae||Other|
|Psidium guajava (guava)||Myrtaceae||Other|
|Punica granatum (pomegranate)||Punicaceae||Other|
|Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)||Fabaceae||Other|
|Saccharum officinarum (sugarcane)||Poaceae||Other|
|Samanea saman (rain tree)||Fabaceae||Main|
|Senna siamea (yellow cassia)||Fabaceae||Other|
|Sida acuta (sida)||Malvaceae||Main|
|Solanum lycopersicum (tomato)||Solanaceae||Other|
|Spondias (purple mombin)||Anacardiaceae||Main|
|Spondias dulcis (otaheite apple)||Anacardiaceae||Other|
|Spondias mombin (hog plum)||Anacardiaceae||Other|
|Spondias purpurea (red mombin)||Anacardiaceae||Main|
|Syzygium cumini (black plum)||Myrtaceae||Other|
|Tectona grandis (teak)||Lamiaceae||Main|
|Terminalia catappa (Singapore almond)||Combretaceae||Other|
|Theobroma cacao (cocoa)||Sterculiaceae||Main|
|Theobroma grandiflorum (cupuassu)||Sterculiaceae||Other|
|Vitis vinifera (grapevine)||Vitaceae||Main|
|Zea mays (maize)||Poaceae||Other|
|Ziziphus mauritiana (jujube)||Rhamnaceae||Other|
Growth StagesTop of page Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Vegetative growing stage
SymptomsTop of page The saliva that M. hirsutus injects into the host plant while feeding probably contains a substance that is phytotoxic (Williams, 1996). Host-plants differ in their susceptibility to the toxin. The more tolerant species tend to be infested at their growing points and in stem axils and infested new growth becomes stunted, with reduced internode extension and leaf expansion. Stunted stems may become swollen. In more sensitive plants, stunting is more marked and new growth forms cabbage-like clusters, with the mealybugs hidden in the creases of the growth. In highly susceptible plants, even brief probing of unexpanded leaves by crawlers causes severe crumpling of the leaves when they subsequently expand, while established infestation can cause total defoliation and even death of the whole plant. As the plant dies back from the tips, the mealybugs migrate to healthy tissue, so the colonies migrate from shoot tips to twigs to branches and finally down the trunk. Samanea saman is particularly severely affected.
It should be noted that the mealybug Paracoccus marginatus causes very similar damage on Hibiscus to that caused by M. hirsutus (Pollard, 1999).
List of Symptoms/SignsTop of page
|Fruit / abnormal shape|
|Fruit / external feeding|
|Fruit / honeydew or sooty mould|
|Fruit / premature drop|
|Growing point / external feeding|
|Inflorescence / external feeding|
|Inflorescence / fall or shedding|
|Inflorescence / honeydew or sooty mould|
|Leaves / abnormal forms|
|Leaves / abnormal leaf fall|
|Leaves / external feeding|
|Leaves / honeydew or sooty mould|
|Leaves / wilting|
|Stems / external feeding|
|Stems / honeydew or sooty mould|
|Stems / stunting or rosetting|
Biology and EcologyTop of page Local movement of M. hirsutus occurs at the first instar (crawler) stage. Crawlers are very small (0.3 mm long), light and can survive a day or so without feeding. They cannot walk far by themselves, but are ideally suited to transport by water, wind and animal agents including domestic animals and man. Misra (1920) recorded transport of M. hirsutus by nymphs of another mealybug species (Ferrisia virgata) in India. Accidental introductions to new countries apparently occur via infested plant material.
Once the crawler settles at a feeding site development continues; there are three immature instars in the female and four in the male. Crawlers settle in cracks and crevices, usually on new growth which becomes severely stunted and distorted, in which densely packed colonies develop; Kairo et al. (2000) describe the symptoms in detail. Reproduction is reported as mostly parthenogenetic in Egypt (Hall, 1921) and Bihar, India (Singh and Ghosh, 1970). In West Bengal, India, M. hirsutus is recorded as being biparental (Ghose, 1971b, 1972a) and it seems likely that populations in the West Indies are also biparental (Williams, 1996). Males are reported to have a pupal stage capable of locomotion (Bartlett, 1978).
The life cycle has been studied in India (Mani, 1989). Each adult female lays 150-600 eggs over a period of about one week, and these hatch in 6-9 days (Bartlett, 1978; Mani, 1989). A generation is completed in about five weeks in warm conditions (Bartlett, 1978) although Ghose (1972b) reports a generation time of as little as 23 days in the laboratory. In countries with a cool winter, the species survives cold conditions as eggs (Bartlett, 1978) or other stages, both on the host plant and in the soil (Pollard, 1995). There may be as many as 15 generations per year (Pollard, 1995). There are no figures reported on reproduction of M. hirsutus in the tropics (Williams, 1996).
Infestations of M. hirsutus are often associated with attendant ants (Ghose, 1970), which collect sugary honeydew from the mealybugs. Ants recorded attending M. hirsutus include Oecophylla sp., Iridomyrmex sp. and Solenopsis sp. (Williams and Watson, 1998) in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. Ant associations in India are given by Mani (1989).
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
|Anagyrus kamali||Parasite||Adults||Montes Rodríguez, 2012|
|Brumoides suturalis||Predator||Adults/Nymphs||Papua New Guinea|
|Cryptolaemus montrouzieri||Predator||Adults/Eggs/Larvae/Nymphs/Pupae||Egypt; India||ornamental plants|
|Gyranusoidea indica||Parasite||Larvae||Montes Rodríguez, 2012|
|Hyperaspis maindroni||Predator||Adults/Nymphs||Papua New Guinea|
|Nephus fijiensis||Predator||Adults/Nymphs||Papua New Guinea||Hibiscus|
|Pseudoscymnus pallidicollis||Predator||Adults/Nymphs||Papua New Guinea|
|Scymnus conformis||Predator||Adults/Nymphs||Egypt||ornamental plants|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page Kamal (1951), Ghose (1970), Beardsley (1985) and Mani (1989) mention at least 30 species of natural enemies of M. hirsutus from 11 families in six orders in India and Egypt, including parasitic Hymenoptera, predatory Heteroptera, Neuroptera, Lepidoptera, Diptera and Coleoptera. Ben-Dov and German (2003) list natural enemies of M. hirsutus.
The natural enemies of M. hirsutus that have been used successfully in biological control programmes are the predatory beetle Cryptolaemus montrouzieri and the hymenopteran endoparasitoids Anagyrus kamali and Gyranusoidea indica. In countries with cool winters, the predatory beetle Scymnus coccivora and the hymenopteran parasitoid Anagyrus dactylopii have been used.
Adult M. hirsutus can encapsulate and kill up to 60% of Anagyrus kamali eggs laid in them, but earlier instars of the mealybug are less able to defend themselves in this way. A. kamali attacks all stages of the mealybug but prefers adult females for oviposition (Sagarra and Vincent, 1999; Sagarra et al., 1999).
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page Natural dispersal
The dispersal stage of mealybugs is the first-instar crawler stage; these are often dispersed passively in the wind.
Crawlers may also be carried passively by passing animals and people that brush past the host plant.
Cutting down infested plants aids dispersal by scattering the crawlers into the air, where the wind may cart them away. Prunings of infested plants, and the clothing, tools and vehicles of agricultural workers can become contaminated with the crawlers and so aid in their dispersal.
Movement in trade
M. hirsutus can be transported over long distances by surface or air on ornamental or crop plant material (Dale and Maddison, 1984).
Pathway VectorsTop of page
|Clothing, footwear and possessions||Air and surface transport of ornamental and crop plant material including flowers and fruit.||Yes|
|Land vehicles||Air and surface transport of ornamental and crop plant material as cargo.||Yes|
|Plants or parts of plants||Yes|
|Containers and packaging - wood||Yes|
Plant TradeTop of page
|Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transport||Pest stages||Borne internally||Borne externally||Visibility of pest or symptoms|
|Bark||adults; eggs; larvae; nymphs; pupae||Yes||Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope|
|Flowers/Inflorescences/Cones/Calyx||adults; eggs; larvae; nymphs; pupae||Yes||Yes||Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope|
|Fruits (inc. pods)||adults; eggs; larvae; nymphs; pupae||Yes||Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope|
|Growing medium accompanying plants||larvae||Yes||Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope|
|Leaves||adults; eggs; larvae; nymphs; pupae||Yes||Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope|
|Seedlings/Micropropagated plants||larvae; nymphs||Yes||Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope|
|Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches||adults; eggs; larvae; nymphs; pupae||Yes||Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope|
|Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport|
|True seeds (inc. grain)|
Wood PackagingTop of page
|Wood Packaging liable to carry the pest in trade/transport||Timber type||Used as packing|
|Solid wood packing material with bark||bark from infested hosts||No|
|Wood Packaging not known to carry the pest in trade/transport|
|Loose wood packing material|
|Processed or treated wood|
|Solid wood packing material without bark|
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Fisheries / aquaculture||None|
ImpactTop of page
Williams (1996) summarizes records of damage caused by M. hirsutus. Almost all serious damage by the mealybug has been recorded between 7° and 30° North, where there are reports of seasonal differences in the incidence of the pest. Direct feeding on young growth (stems, leaves and flowers) causes severe stunting and distortion including crinkling of the leaves, thickening of stems and a bunchy-top appearance of shoots; in severe cases the leaves may fall. Honeydew and sooty mould contamination of fruit may reduce their value (Garland, 1998). In India, stunted and distorted growth caused by M. hirsutus in mulberry is known as Tukra disease (Rao et al., 1993) and is a problem in most of the silk producing areas (Tewari et al., 1994). It has been suggested that symptoms associated with M. hirsutus infestation may be due to a virus infection (on cacao in Zanzibar (de Lotto, 1967) and on mulberry in India (Tewari et al., 1994)).
Francois (1996) gave the estimated annual losses in Grenada due to M. hirsutus damage to crops and environment as US$ 3.5 million before biological controls were established. In the first few years of the mealybug problem in the Caribean, affected countries suffered serious loss of trade because other countries would not accept shipments of agricultural produce from them (Peters and Watson, 1999). In the period 1995-1998, Peters (1999) estimated the island's overall losses and costs at US$ 18.3 million, of which the control programme cost US$ 1.1 million (Kairo et al., 2000). Overall losses and costs to St Kitts in 1995-1997 were estimated by Francis (1999) as US$ 280,000, with an additional loss of trade estimated at US$ 22,000. For St Lucia, losses were estimated at US$ 67,000 (Anon., 1999), and for St Vincent and the Grenadines losses were estimated at US$ 3.4 million (Edwards, 1999). If the mealybug were to spread across the southern USA it is estimated that it could cause losses of US$ 750 million per year (Moffit, 1999).
Other crops seriously damaged by M. hirsutus include cotton in Egypt (Hall, 1921), with growth sometimes virtually halted; tree and herbaceum cotton in India (Dhawan et al., 1980; Muralidharan and Badaya, 2000), with reduction in yield; the fibre crops Hibiscus sabdariffa var. altissima (roselle), H. cannabinus (mesta) and Boehemeria nivea in West Bengal, India, and Bangladesh (Ghose, 1961, 1972b; Singh and Ghosh, 1970), with reduction in fibre yield of roselle of 21.4% reported by Ghose (1971a) and of 40% reported by Raju et al. (1988); grapes in India, with up to 90% of bunches destroyed in the Bangalore area (Manjunath, 1985) and heavily infested bunches made unfit for consumption or marketing (Vereesh, 1986); pigeonpea in India (Patel et al., 1990); Zizyphus mauritiana in India (Balikai and Bagali, 2000); ornamental Hibiscus in Papua New Guinea (Williams and Watson, 1988); and cacao in the Solomon Islands (Williams and Watson, 1988) and Grenada (Pollard, 1995).
In the Caribbean, damage has been reported on Annona spp., Spondias spp., okra (Abelmoschus esculentus), mango, sorrel (Hibiscus sabdariffa), Albizia saman and other ornamentals important to the tourist industry, and forest trees such as blue mahoe (Hibiscus elatus) and teak (Tectona grandis) (Pollard, 1995). Transport of fruit and vegetables between the Caribbean islands by entrepreneurs came to a virtual standstill with the imposition of quarantine restrictions on the importation of fresh produce into Trinidad (Pollard, 1995), although pre-export inspections have allowed imports from some affected countries to continue.
Experimental evidence suggests that Tukra-diseased leaves may be more nutritious to silkworms than normal leaves (Ahamed et al., 1999).
Environmental ImpactTop of page In Grenada, severe devastation of natural habitats was seen, for example, in the Grand Etang area where a stand of 38 ha of blue mahoe (Hibiscus elatus) was destroyed (Peters and Watson, 1999; Kairo et al., 2000). This tree is dominant in the natural rainforest; if such devaststion had become widespread, the watersheds and soils of the island would have been threatened.
Social ImpactTop of page In Grenada, where the infestation remained unchecked for over a year, the mealybug extensively devastated amenity plantings and landscaped gardens in hotels, resulting in serious losses to the tourist industry and people employed therein; cash crops also produced little or no return for 1-2 years, which impacted on farming income and agricultural trade (Peters and Watson, 1999). Such damage has a major impact on small island economies.
DiagnosisTop of page M. hirsutus can only be identified authoritatively by examination of slide-mounted adult females under a compound light microscope and use of taxonomic keys. The combination of 9-segmented antennae, anal lobe bars, numerous dorsal oral rim ducts on all parts of the body except the limbs and long, flagellate dorsal setae make the species fairly easy to recognize in parts of the world where other Maconellicoccus species do not occur, but careful microscopic examination is necessary in countries where other species of Maconellicoccus are known to be present. Watson and Chandler (2000) describe a method for preparation of slide mounts and provide a key for the identification of M. hirsutus in the Caribbean region. A taxonomic key to all the species of Maconellicoccus is provided by Williams (1996). Keys for the identification of immature stages of M. hirsutus are given by Miller (2001), and Gullan (2000) provides a key to immature stages of M. hirsutus and five other common mealybug pests.
Detection and InspectionTop of page Examine plant material, especially growing tips, for distorted, stunted, bunchy growths containing white woolly wax, tiny salmon-pink eggs, and sooty mould or sticky honeydew. The honeydew produced may attract attendant ants. The entire mealybug colony tends to become covered by white, sticky, elastic, woolly, wax ovisac material. When the sticky ovisac wax is parted with a needle, clusters of pink eggs and pink to grey females become visible. In heavier infestations, white masses of wax concealing mealybugs may occur in axils and on twigs and stems. Good light conditions are essential for examination; in poor light, a powerful flashlight is helpful. One of the commonest, favoured hosts of M. hirsutus is Hibiscus rosa-sinensis; this is a good host to monitor for early detection of the arrival of the pest.
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page In parts of the world where other species of Maconellicoccus do not occur, slide-mounted adult females of M. hirsutus are fairly easy to recognize. Examination of slide-mounted material is advisable because some other species of mealybug are similar to M. hirsutus in appearance and damage caused, for example, Phenacoccus solenopsis and Paracoccus marginatus. P. marginatus differs from M. hirsutus in the field by having yellow body contents, not pink. When presevred in 80% alcohol, specimens of P. marginatus turn black in a matter of days, whereas M. hirsutus remain brown.
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Cryptolaemus montrouzieri, a native of Australia, has been used successfully to reduce large populations of M. hirsutus in Egypt, the Caribbean (Kairo et al., 2000), and India (Karnataka) (Mani and Krishnamoorthy, 2001). In Karnataka, India, on acid lime, two releases of 25 beetles per plant in January and February 1999 reduced the population of M. hirsutus to economically unimportant levels by mid-March (Mani and Krishnamoorthy, 1999); similarly, releases on guava reduced the mealybug population to insignificant levels within one month (Mani and Krishnamoorthy, 2001).
In Egypt, however, C. montrouzieri was unable to survive the cold of winter in sufficient numbers to be effective, and the main biological control agents there are the parasitoids Anagyrus kamali and Achrysopophagus sp. (Bartlett, 1978). In India, where grapes are grown in areas that may have quite a cold winter, the control agents used against M. hirsutus are the parasitoid Anagyrus dactylopii and the coccinellid predators Scymnus coccivora, S. conformis and S. gratiousus (Mani, 1989). Gowda and Manjunath (1998) reported that Hibiscus cannabinus was a suitable trap crop for M. hirsutus infesting mulberry in Mysore.
In Egypt, almost total control of the mealybug is maintained using the parasitoid Anagyrus kamali (Williams, 1996). This parasitoid has also been introduced to Grenada, Trinidad and some other Caribbean islands to control M. hirsutus (Pollard, 1995; Garland, 1998; Anon., 2000a; Michaud and Evans, 2000; Kairo et al., 2000). Pesticide spraying against disease vectors may reduce the natural enemy populations at times and allow a resurgence of the mealybug. Additional introductions of predators such as Cryptolaemus montrouzieri have been used on some Caribbean islands to reduce mealybug populations further (Gautam et al., 1996; Anon., 2000a). For biological control purposes, M. hirsutus can be reared in the laboratory on pumpkins, particularly those varieties with creases in the skin (Japanese pumpkin, Cucurbita moschata; acorn squash, Cucurbita pepo var. Turbinata) and on sprouting Irish potatoes (Mani, 1990; Meyerdirk, 1997; Serrano and Lapointe, 2002).
It has been found that damage to a territory newly invaded by M. hirsutus can be minimised if the pest can be identified quickly and biological control agents are introduced as soon as possible (Michaud and Evans, 2000; Kairo et al., 2000). The great success of the biological control programme against M. hirsutus in the Caribbean, using the predatory beetle Cryptolaemus montrouzieri and the hymenoptern endoparasitoids Anagyrus kamali and Gyranusoides indica, is largely attributable to these insects reproducing at least twice as fast as the mealybug (Persad and Khan, 2002; Meyerdirk and DeChi, 2005); populations were reduced by 82-97%, and the parasitoids were found to be effctive in tropical, subtropical and semi-desert conditions. Public awareness programmes were also important; public co-operation avoided heavy use of pesticides that might have impaired establishment of the biological control agents, and the public helped to disseminate the natural enemies (Kairo et al., 2000).
For Trinidad and Tobago, Singh (1999) estimated control costs of M. hirsutus in 1995-1997 to be US$ 5.1 million, while probable losses averted by control were estimated at US$ 41 million, giving a benefit:cost ratio of 8:1.
Colonies of M. hirsutus hidden in crevices amongst cabbage-like growths can be difficult or impossible for natural enemies to attack, especially for the larger coccinellid predators. This may limit the success of biological control agents in regulating pest populations because they cannot reach the mealybugs.
In Papua New Guinea, attendance by ants has been recorded to affect the level of attack of the mealybugs by parasitoids (Buckley and Gullan, 1991); the more aggressive the ant, the lower the level of parasitism observed. The effectiveness of natural enemies in regulating populations of M. hirsutus can be increased if ants attending the mealybugs can be controlled (Greve and Ismay, 1983).
In Egypt, the grape varieties Romi and Banati were found to be susceptible to attack by M. hirsutus, with the variety Moscati being the most tolerant and least affected (Amin and Emam, 1996).
Mani (1989) mentions that sticky banding such as 'tanglefoot'; has been used in India to protect grape bunches from infestation by M. hirsutus.
Pesticide sprays tend to be of limited effectiveness against M. hirsutus because of its habit of hiding in crevices, and the waxy covering of its body (Williams, 1996); systemic insecticides are more likely to be effective. Mani (1989) states that most granular insecticides are ineffective against M. hirsutus. Any pesticide used against M. hirsutus should be carefully selected to avoid injury to its natural enemies, because they are likely to be important in helping to keep populations at low levels in the long term. The first-instar stage is most susceptible to pesticide treatments (Persad and Khan, 2000); however, the same study found that all the pesticides tested were highly toxic to the main biological control agent, Anagyrus kamali.
In India, there is some evidence of pesticide resistance developing (Mani, 1989), so pesticides are only used to control heavy infestations of the mealybug; populations are subsequently maintained at low levels by biological control.
Inorganic oil emulsion sprays gave good control of M. hirsutus on guava in Tamil Nadu, India (Jaluddin and Sadakathulla, 1998). Anitha et al. (1999) tested the alkaloid abrine, isolated from seeds of Abrus precatorius, on M. hirsutus and found evidence that abrine could have a drastic effect on the population density of the mealybug.
In India, the main biological control agents used to regulate M. hirsutus on grapes are the parasitoid Anagyrus dactylopii and the predators Scymnus coccivora and S. gratiosus, as part of an integrated pest management regime involving pesticide use if the mealybug populations reach a high level (Mani, 1989).
In India, integrated pest management using both coccinellid beetle predators and pesticides (chlorpyrifos) has been achieved on grapes (Mani, 1989).
The M. hirsutus invasion of the Caribbean region has resulted in several long-term benefits, including strengthening of plant quarantine, development of taxonomic expertise in the region, development of export protocols, development of a capacity for biological control and reduction in the use of toxic pesticides, creating a suitable environment for the development of integrated pest management (Kairo et al., 2000).
Garland (1998) recommends a fumigant for use against M. hirsutus on plants in greenhouses in Canada. Since its appearance in the Caribbean region in 1994/1995, M. hirsutus is regarded as of high quarantine importance by the CPPC. If regulation is required, planting material of host-plant species of M. hirsutus should be inspected in the growing season previous to shipment and be found free of infestation. A phytosanitary certificate should guarantee absence of the pest from consignments of either planting material or produce. Any shipments of fresh plant material from an infested country to one that is not yet infested but could be, should be examined thoroughly to detect M. hirsutus.
ReferencesTop of page
Ahamed CAA, Chandrakala MV, Maribashetty VG, 1999. Effect of feeding mealy bug affected mulberry leaves (tukra) on nutritional efficiency and cocoon yield in the new bivoltine silkworm, Bombyx mori L. Entomon, 24(3):265-273; 30 ref.
Akhilesh Kumar, Nandita Singh, 2014. First report of Maconellicoccus hirsutus Green infestation on Jatropha curcas saplings. Phytoparasitica, 42(1):71-73. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12600-013-0339-4
Amin AH, Emam AK, 1996. Relative susceptibility of three grape vine varieties to infestation with Maconellicoccus hirsutus (Green), (Homoptera:Pseudococcidae). Annals of Agricultural Science (Cairo), 41(1):493-500; 12 ref.
Anitha B, Arivalagan M, Sundari MSN, Durairaj G, 1999. Effect of alkaloid abrine, isolated from Abrus precatorius Linn. seeds on mealy bug, Maconellicoccus hirsutus Green. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, 37(4):415-417; 23 ref.
Anon, 1999. Summary of activities associated with Maconellicoccus hirsutus in St Lucia. Paper presented at the evaluation workshop on biological control of Hibiscus mealybug., Maconellicocus hirsutus in the Caribbean sub-region, 11-12 March 1999, Trinidad and Tobago.
Anon., 2000. New pest updates. In: Kairo M, ed. Caribbean IPM Knowledge Network Current Awareness Bulletin, 3/4:3. Available on the Internet at: http://www.egroups.com/group/CaribbeanIPM/30.
Anon., 2000. News item. Biocontrol News and Information, 21(2):27N-28N.
APPPC, 1987. Insect pests of economic significance affecting major crops of the countries in Asia and the Pacific region. Technical Document No. 135. Bangkok, Thailand: Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific region (RAPA).
Balachowsky A, 1926. Revue Agricole de l'Afrique du Nord, Alger 1926, 1-8.
Balikai RA, Bagali AN, 2000. Population density of mealybug, Maconellicoccus hirsutus (Green) on ber (Zizyphus mauritiana lamarck) and economic losses. Agricultural Science Digest, 20(1):62-63; 3 ref.
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