Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Maconellicoccus hirsutus
(pink hibiscus mealybug)

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Datasheet

Maconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 25 July 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Maconellicoccus hirsutus
  • Preferred Common Name
  • pink hibiscus mealybug
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Uniramia
  •         Class: Insecta
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • 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 control...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Maconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); adult females. Laboratory specimens. USA
TitleFemales
CaptionMaconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); adult females. Laboratory specimens. USA
Copyright©Florida Division of Plant Industry/Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Maconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); adult females. Laboratory specimens. USA
FemalesMaconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); adult females. Laboratory specimens. USA©Florida Division of Plant Industry/Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Maconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); adult females in a field infestation. USA
TitleField infestation
CaptionMaconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); adult females in a field infestation. USA
Copyright©Jeffrey W. Lotz/Florida Division of Plant Industry/Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Maconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); adult females in a field infestation. USA
Field infestationMaconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); adult females in a field infestation. USA©Jeffrey W. Lotz/Florida Division of Plant Industry/Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Maconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); adult male, in a field infestation. USA.
TitleMale
CaptionMaconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); adult male, in a field infestation. USA.
Copyright©Florida Division of Plant Industry/Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Maconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); adult male, in a field infestation. USA.
MaleMaconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); adult male, in a field infestation. USA.©Florida Division of Plant Industry/Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Maconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); field infestation. USA.
TitleField infestation
CaptionMaconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); field infestation. USA.
Copyright©Florida Division of Plant Industry/Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Maconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); field infestation. USA.
Field infestationMaconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); field infestation. USA.©Florida Division of Plant Industry/Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Maconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); field infestation. USA.
TitleField infestation
CaptionMaconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); field infestation. USA.
Copyright©Florida Division of Plant Industry/Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Maconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); field infestation. USA.
Field infestationMaconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); field infestation. USA.©Florida Division of Plant Industry/Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Maconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); infestation, in laboratory. USA.
TitleInfestation
CaptionMaconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); infestation, in laboratory. USA.
Copyright©Florida Division of Plant Industry/Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Maconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); infestation, in laboratory. USA.
InfestationMaconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); infestation, in laboratory. USA.©Florida Division of Plant Industry/Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Maconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); foliar damage, from a field infestation. USA.
TitleDamage
CaptionMaconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); foliar damage, from a field infestation. USA.
Copyright©Florida Division of Plant Industry/Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Maconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); foliar damage, from a field infestation. USA.
DamageMaconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); foliar damage, from a field infestation. USA.©Florida Division of Plant Industry/Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Maconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); field infestation on Hibiscus spp. USA.
TitleField infestation
CaptionMaconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); field infestation on Hibiscus spp. USA.
Copyright©Florida Division of Plant Industry/Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Maconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); field infestation on Hibiscus spp. USA.
Field infestationMaconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); field infestation on Hibiscus spp. USA.©Florida Division of Plant Industry/Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Maconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); adult female, ventral view. Slide mounted specimen.
TitleFemale
CaptionMaconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); adult female, ventral view. Slide mounted specimen.
Copyright©Alessandra Rung/Scale Insects/USDA APHIS ITP/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Maconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); adult female, ventral view. Slide mounted specimen.
FemaleMaconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); adult female, ventral view. Slide mounted specimen.©Alessandra Rung/Scale Insects/USDA APHIS ITP/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Maconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); adult female, diagrammatic view.
TitleFemale
CaptionMaconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); adult female, diagrammatic view.
Copyright©CAB International
Maconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); adult female, diagrammatic view.
FemaleMaconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); adult female, diagrammatic view.©CAB International

Identity

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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

EPPO code

  • PHENHI (Maconellicoccus hirsutus)

Summary of Invasiveness

Top 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 Tree

Top 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 Nomenclature

Top 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)).

Description

Top 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.

Distribution

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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 Table

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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/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

BangladeshPresentNative Not invasive EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
Brunei DarussalamPresentEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
CambodiaPresentNative Not invasive EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
ChinaRestricted distributionNative Not invasive EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-GuangdongPresentNative Not invasive EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-Hong KongPresentEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-MacauPresentEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-ShanxiPresentNative Not invasive Tao, 1999; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-TibetPresentNative Not invasive Wong et a., 1999; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-YunnanPresentNative Not invasive EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
IndiaWidespreadNative Not invasive EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsPresentNative Not invasive Williams, 1996; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-Andhra PradeshPresentNative Not invasive EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-AssamPresentNative Not invasive EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-BiharPresentNative Not invasive EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-DelhiPresentNative Not invasive EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-GujaratPresentNative Not invasive EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-Indian PunjabPresentNative Not invasive Sharma, 2011; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-KarnatakaPresentNative Not invasive EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-KeralaPresentNative Not invasive EPPO, 2003; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-Madhya PradeshPresentNative Not invasive EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-MaharashtraPresentNative Not invasive EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-OdishaPresentNative Not invasive EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-Tamil NaduPresentNative Not invasive EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-TripuraPresentNative Not invasive EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-Uttar PradeshPresentNative Not invasive Akhilesh and Nandita, 2014; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-West BengalPresentNative Not invasive EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
IndonesiaWidespreadEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-Irian JayaPresentWilliams and Watson, 1988; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-JavaPresentEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-Nusa TenggaraPresentEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-SulawesiPresentEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-SumatraPresentEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
IranPresentEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
IsraelPresentSpodek et al., 2016
JapanRestricted distributionMiller et al., 1998; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-Ryukyu ArchipelagoPresentEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
JordanPresentCABI/EPPO, 2015
LaosPresentNative Not invasive EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
LebanonPresentEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
MalaysiaPresentNative Not invasive EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentNative Not invasive EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
MaldivesPresentNative Not invasive Watson et al., 1995; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
MyanmarPresentNative Not invasive EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
NepalPresentNative Not invasive EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
OmanPresentEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
PakistanPresentNative Not invasive EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
PhilippinesPresentEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
Saudi ArabiaPresentEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
SingaporePresentNative Not invasive EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
Sri LankaPresentNative Not invasive EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
TaiwanPresentWong et al., 1999; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
ThailandPresentNative Not invasive EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
United Arab EmiratesPresentEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
VietnamPresentNative Not invasive NHM, 1922; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
YemenPresentMarotta et al., 2001; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015

Africa

AlgeriaAbsent, invalid recordEPPO, 2014
BeninRestricted distributionIntroducedWilliams, 1996; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
Burkina FasoPresentIntroducedWilliams, 1986; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
CameroonPresentIntroducedWilliams, 1986; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
Central African RepublicPresentIntroducedWilliams, 1986; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
ChadPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
CongoPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
Congo Democratic RepublicPresentIntroducedMiller et al., 1998; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
Côte d'IvoirePresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
EgyptPresentIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
GabonPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
GambiaPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
KenyaPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
LiberiaPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
NigerPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
NigeriaPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
RéunionPresentGermain, 2013; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
SenegalPresentIntroducedTsacas and Chassagnard, 1999; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
SeychellesPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
SomaliaPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
SudanPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
TanzaniaPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
TunisiaPresentBen Halima-Kamel et al., 2015; CABI/EPPO, 2015
Yemen
-SocotraPresentMiller et al., 1998
ZambiaAbsent, invalid recordWilliams, 1996; EPPO, 2014

North America

MexicoPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced1999 Invasive Anon., 2000a; Matile-Ferrero et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015; Villatoro-Moreno et al., 2016
USARestricted distribution1999EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-AlabamaAbsent, reported but not confirmedCABI/EPPO, 2015
-CaliforniaRestricted distributionIntroduced1999 Invasive Anon., 2000a; Matile-Ferrero et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-FloridaRestricted distributionIntroduced2002 Invasive Meyerdirk and DeChi, 2005; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-GeorgiaAbsent, reported but not confirmedEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced1983 Invasive Williams, 1996; Kairo et al., 2000; Heu, 2002; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-LouisianaAbsent, reported but not confirmedEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-New YorkAbsent, reported but not confirmedCABI/EPPO, 2015
-North CarolinaAbsent, reported but not confirmedCABI/EPPO, 2015
-OklahomaAbsent, reported but not confirmedCABI/EPPO, 2015
-South CarolinaAbsent, reported but not confirmedChong, 2009; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-TennesseeAbsent, reported but not confirmedCABI/EPPO, 2015
-TexasAbsent, reported but not confirmedEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015

Central America and Caribbean

AnguillaAbsent, reported but not confirmedIntroduced1996/1997 Invasive Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
Antigua and BarbudaPresentIntroduced2001 Invasive Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
ArubaPresentIntroduced1997 Invasive Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
BahamasPresentIntroduced2000 Invasive Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
BarbadosPresentIntroduced2000 Invasive Anon., 2000b; Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
BelizePresentIntroduced1999 Invasive Anon., 2000a; Kairo et al., 2000; Meyerdirk and DeChi, 2005; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
British Virgin IslandsPresentIntroduced1997 Invasive Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
Cayman IslandsPresentEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
Costa RicaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014; IPPC, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015; IPPC, 2017
CuraçaoPresentIntroduced1997 Invasive Pollard, 1997; Kairo et al., 2000
DominicaPresentIntroduced2001 Invasive Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
Dominican RepublicAbsent, unreliable recordIntroduced2002 Invasive Meyerdirk and DeChi, 2005; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
GrenadaRestricted distributionIntroduced1994 Invasive Etienne et al., 1998; Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
GuadeloupePresentIntroduced1998 Invasive Etienne et al., 1998; Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
GuatemalaAbsent, unreliable recordEPPO, 2014
HaitiPresentIntroduced2002 Invasive Meyerdirk and DeChi, 2005; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
JamaicaRestricted distributionIPPC, 2008; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
MartiniquePresentIntroduced1999 Invasive Anon., 2000a; Matile-Ferrero et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
MontserratPresentIntroduced1998 Invasive Pollard, 1998; Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
Netherlands AntillesPresentIntroduced1996 Invasive Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
Puerto RicoPresentIntroduced1997 Invasive Anon., 2000a; Lemon and Borland, 1997; Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentIntroduced1995 Invasive Anon., 2000a; Etienne et al., 1998; Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
Saint LuciaPresentIntroduced1996 Invasive Kairo et al., 2000; Jn Pierre, 2008; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentIntroduced1997 Invasive Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
Sint MaartenPresentIntroduced1996 Invasive Matile-Ferrero and Etienne, 1996; Etienne et al., 1998
Trinidad and TobagoPresentIntroduced1995 Invasive Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
United States Virgin IslandsPresentIntroduced1997 Invasive Lemon and Borland, 1997; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015

South America

BrazilRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-AlagoasPresentBroglio et al., 2015; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-BahiaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2015
-Espirito SantoPresentCABI/EPPO, 2015
-RoraimaPresentIntroducedMarsaro et al., 2013; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-Sao PauloPresentPeronti et al., 2016
ColombiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Kondo et al., 2012; Montes Rodríguez, 2012; CABI/EPPO, 2015
French GuianaPresentIntroduced1997 Invasive Matile-Ferrero et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
GuyanaWidespreadIntroduced1997 Invasive Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
SurinameRestricted distributionIntroduced Invasive Kairo et al., 2000; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
VenezuelaPresentIntroduced1999 Invasive Kairo et al., 2000; Cermeli et al., 2002; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015

Europe

CyprusWidespreadEPPO, 2011; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015

Oceania

AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresentIntroduced Invasive Goolsby et al., 2002; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-QueenslandPresentIntroduced Invasive Goolsby et al., 2002; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-South AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive Miller et al., 1998; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive Goolsby et al., 2002; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
FijiPresentHodgson and Lagowska, 2011; CABI/EPPO, 2015
GuamPresentIntroduced Invasive Ben-Dov, 1994; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
Micronesia, Federated states ofRestricted distributionIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentReddy et al., 2009; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
PalauPresentEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
Papua New GuineaWidespreadWilliams and Watson, 1988; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
SamoaPresentIntroduced Invasive NHM, 1999; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
Solomon IslandsPresentSimmonds, 1964; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
TongaPresentIntroducedWilliams and Watson, 1988; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
Trust Territory of Pacific IslandsPresentIntroduced1997 Invasive Meyerdirk, 1997; Kairo et al., 2000
TuvaluPresentIntroducedWilliams and Watson, 1988; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
VanuatuPresentEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015

History of Introduction and Spread

Top 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 Introduction

Top 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.

Habitat

Top 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 Affected

Top 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 Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContext
Abelmoschus esculentus (okra)MalvaceaeMain
Abutilon indicum (country mallow)MalvaceaeOther
Acacia (wattles)FabaceaeOther
Acacia cochliacanthaFabaceaeHabitat/association
Acalypha (Copperleaf)EuphorbiaceaeOther
Acanthus ilicifoliusAcanthaceaeOther
Albizia lebbeck (Indian siris)FabaceaeOther
AllamandaApocynaceaeMain
Alpinia purpurata (red ginger)ZingiberaceaeMain
AngelicaApiaceaeOther
AnnonaAnnonaceaeMain
Annona cherimola (cherimoya)AnnonaceaeOther
Annona muricata (soursop)AnnonaceaeMain
Annona reticulata (bullock's heart)AnnonaceaeOther
Annona squamosa (sugar apple)AnnonaceaeMain
AnthuriumAraceaeOther
Arachis hypogaea (groundnut)FabaceaeOther
AraliaAraliaceaeOther
Artocarpus (breadfruit trees)MoraceaeMain
Artocarpus altilis (breadfruit)MoraceaeOther
Asparagus officinalis (asparagus)LiliaceaeOther
Averrhoa carambola (carambola)OxalidaceaeMain
Azadirachta indica (neem tree)MeliaceaeOther
Bauhinia (camel's foot)FabaceaeOther
BetaChenopodiaceaeOther
BignoniaBignoniaceaeOther
BoehmeriaUrticaceaeOther
Boehmeria nivea (ramie)UrticaceaeMain
BougainvilleaNyctaginaceaeMain
Brassica oleracea (cabbages, cauliflowers)BrassicaceaeOther
Cajanus cajan (pigeon pea)FabaceaeMain
Capsicum annuum (bell pepper)SolanaceaeOther
Ceiba pentandra (kapok)BombacaceaeOther
Centrolobium paraenseFabaceaeOther
Ceratonia siliqua (locust bean)FabaceaeOther
Chenopodium album (fat hen)ChenopodiaceaeOther
Chrysanthemum (daisy)AsteraceaeOther
Chrysanthemum coronarium (garland chrysanthemum)AsteraceaeOther
CitrusRutaceaeMain
Citrus aurantiifolia (lime)RutaceaeOther
Citrus sinensis (navel orange)RutaceaeOther
Citrus x paradisi (grapefruit)RutaceaeOther
Clitoria ternatea (butterfly-pea)FabaceaeOther
Codiaeum variegatum (croton)EuphorbiaceaeOther
Coffea (coffee)RubiaceaeOther
Coffea arabica (arabica coffee)RubiaceaeOther
ColocasiaAraceaeOther
Corchorus (jutes)TiliaceaeOther
Corchorus capsularis (white jute)TiliaceaeOther
Corchorus olitorius (jute)TiliaceaeOther
CosmosAsteraceaeOther
CrotalariaFabaceaeOther
Cucumis sativus (cucumber)CucurbitaceaeOther
Cucurbita (pumpkin)CucurbitaceaeOther
Cucurbita moschata (pumpkin)CucurbitaceaeOther
Cucurbita pepo (marrow)CucurbitaceaeOther
DahliaAsteraceaeOther
Diospyros kaki (persimmon)EbenaceaeOther
Dodonaea viscosa (switch sorrel)SapindaceaeOther
DurantaVerbenaceaeOther
Erythrina spp.FabaceaeOther
Erythrina variegata (Indian coral tree)FabaceaeOther
FicusMoraceaeOther
Ficus benghalensis (banyan)MoraceaeOther
Ficus benjamina (weeping fig)MoraceaeOther
Ficus carica (common fig)MoraceaeOther
Ficus elastica (rubber plant)MoraceaeOther
Ficus platyphyllaMoraceaeOther
Ficus semicordataMoraceaeOther
GliricidiaFabaceaeOther
Glycine max (soyabean)FabaceaeMain
Gossypium (cotton)MalvaceaeMain
Gossypium arboreum (cotton, tree)MalvaceaeMain
Gossypium herbaceum (short staple cotton)MalvaceaeMain
Gossypium hirsutum (Bourbon cotton)MalvaceaeMain
GrewiaTiliaceaeOther
Helianthus annuus (sunflower)AsteraceaeOther
HeliconiaHeliconiaceaeOther
Hevea brasiliensis (rubber)EuphorbiaceaeOther
Hibiscus (rosemallows)MalvaceaeMain
Hibiscus cannabinus (kenaf)MalvaceaeMain
Hibiscus elatus (blue mahoe)MalvaceaeOther
Hibiscus manihot (Hibiscus root)MalvaceaeOther
Hibiscus mutabilis (cottonrose)MalvaceaeOther
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (China-rose)MalvaceaeMain
Hibiscus sabdariffa (Roselle)MalvaceaeMain
Hibiscus schizopetalus (fringed hibiscus)MalvaceaeOther
Hibiscus tiliaceus (coast cottonwood)MalvaceaeOther
Inga edulis (ice-cream bean)FabaceaeOther
IxoraRubiaceaeOther
JacarandaBignoniaceaeOther
Jasminum sambac (arabian jasmine)OleaceaeOther
Jatropha curcas (jatropha)EuphorbiaceaeOther
Lactuca sativa (lettuce)AsteraceaeOther
Lantana camara (lantana)VerbenaceaeOther
LeucaenaFabaceaeOther
Leucaena leucocephala (leucaena)FabaceaeOther
MacarangaEuphorbiaceaeOther
Malpighia glabra (acerola)MalpighiaceaeMain
Malus sylvestris (crab-apple tree)RosaceaeOther
Malvaviscus arboreus (wax mallow)MalvaceaeOther
Mangifera indica (mango)AnacardiaceaeOther
Manihot esculenta (cassava)EuphorbiaceaeOther
Manilkara zapota (sapodilla)SapotaceaeMain
Medicago sativa (lucerne)FabaceaeOther
Mimosa pigra (catclaw mimosa)FabaceaeHabitat/association
Mimosa pudica (sensitive plant)FabaceaeOther
Montanoa grandifloraAsteraceaeOther
Morus (mulberrytree)MoraceaeMain
Morus alba (mora)MoraceaeMain
Musa (banana)MusaceaeOther
Musa x paradisiaca (plantain)MusaceaeMain
MussaendaRubiaceaeOther
Myrtus communis (myrtle)MyrtaceaeOther
Nephelium lappaceum (rambutan)SapindaceaeOther
Nerium oleander (oleander)ApocynaceaeOther
Opuntia (Pricklypear)CactaceaeOther
Parkinsonia aculeata (Mexican palo-verde)FabaceaeOther
Parthenium hysterophorus (parthenium weed)AsteraceaeOther
Passiflora (passionflower)PassifloraceaeOther
Passiflora edulis (passionfruit)PassifloraceaeMain
PerseaLauraceaeOther
Persea americana (avocado)LauraceaeMain
Phaseolus vulgaris (common bean)FabaceaeOther
Phoenix dactylifera (date-palm)ArecaceaeOther
Phoenix sylvestris (east Indian wine palm)ArecaceaeOther
Phyllanthus niruri (seed-under-the-leaf)EuphorbiaceaeOther
Prunus domestica (plum)RosaceaeOther
Prunus salicina (Japanese plum)RosaceaeOther
Psidium guajava (guava)MyrtaceaeOther
Punica granatum (pomegranate)PunicaceaeOther
QuisqualisCombretaceaeOther
Rhododendron (Azalea)EricaceaeOther
Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)FabaceaeOther
Saccharum officinarum (sugarcane)PoaceaeOther
Samanea saman (rain tree)FabaceaeMain
Senna siamea (yellow cassia)FabaceaeOther
Sida acuta (sida)MalvaceaeMain
SolandraSolanaceaeOther
Solanum lycopersicum (tomato)SolanaceaeOther
Spondias (purple mombin)AnacardiaceaeMain
Spondias dulcis (otaheite apple)AnacardiaceaeOther
Spondias mombin (hog plum)AnacardiaceaeOther
Spondias purpurea (red mombin)AnacardiaceaeMain
Syzygium cumini (black plum)MyrtaceaeOther
Tectona grandis (teak)LamiaceaeMain
Tephrosia (hoary-pea)FabaceaeOther
Terminalia catappa (Singapore almond)CombretaceaeOther
TetraceraDilleniaceaeOther
Theobroma cacao (cocoa)SterculiaceaeMain
Theobroma grandiflorum (cupuassu)SterculiaceaeOther
Thespesia lampasMalvaceaeOther
Vitis vinifera (grapevine)VitaceaeMain
Xanthosoma (cocoyam)AraceaeOther
Zea mays (maize)PoaceaeOther
Ziziphus mauritiana (jujube)RhamnaceaeOther

Growth Stages

Top of page Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Vegetative growing stage

Symptoms

Top 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/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
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 Ecology

Top 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 enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Alamella flava Parasite
Allotropa japonica Parasite
Anagyrus dactylopii Parasite Adults
Anagyrus kamali Parasite Adults Montes Rodríguez, 2012
Autoba silicula Predator Adults/Nymphs
Brinckochrysa scelestes Predator Adults/Nymphs
Brumoides suturalis Predator Adults/Nymphs Papua New Guinea
Cacoxenus multidentatus Parasite
Cryptolaemus montrouzieri Predator Adults/Eggs/Larvae/Nymphs/Pupae Egypt; India ornamental plants
Cycloneda sanguinea Predator
Domomyza perspicax Predator Adults/Nymphs
Eublemma gayneri Predator Adults/Nymphs
Eublemma trifasciata Predator Adults/Nymphs
Gyranusoidea indica Parasite Larvae Montes Rodríguez, 2012
Gyranusoidea mirzai Parasite
Harmonia axyridis Predator
Hyperaspis maindroni Predator Adults/Nymphs Papua New Guinea
Hyperaspis notata Predator
Laterospora phenacocca Pathogen Adults/Nymphs
Mallada boninensis Predator Adults/Nymphs
Nephus fijiensis Predator Adults/Nymphs Papua New Guinea Hibiscus
Pseudoscymnus pallidicollis Predator Adults/Nymphs Papua New Guinea
Scymnus coccivora Predator Adults/Eggs/Nymphs
Scymnus conformis Predator Adults/Nymphs Egypt ornamental plants
Spalgis epeus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Triommata coccidivora Predator Adults/Nymphs

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top 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 Dispersal

Top of page Natural dispersal

The dispersal stage of mealybugs is the first-instar crawler stage; these are often dispersed passively in the wind.

Vector transmission

Crawlers may also be carried passively by passing animals and people that brush past the host plant.

Agricultural practices

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 Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Clothing, footwear and possessionsAir and surface transport of ornamental and crop plant material including flowers and fruit. Yes
Land vehiclesAir and surface transport of ornamental and crop plant material as cargo. Yes
Plants or parts of plants Yes
Containers and packaging - wood Yes

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility 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
Bulbs/Tubers/Corms/Rhizomes
Roots
True seeds (inc. grain)
Wood

Wood Packaging

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Wood Packaging liable to carry the pest in trade/transportTimber typeUsed 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
Non-wood
Processed or treated wood
Solid wood packing material without bark

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Animal/plant collections Negative
Animal/plant products Negative
Biodiversity (generally) Negative
Crop production Negative
Environment (generally) Negative
Fisheries / aquaculture None
Forestry production Negative
Human health None
Livestock production None
Native fauna Negative
Native flora Negative
Rare/protected species Negative
Tourism Negative
Trade/international relations Negative
Transport/travel None

Impact

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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 Impact

Top 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 Impact

Top 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.

Diagnosis

Top 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 Inspection

Top 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/Conditions

Top 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 Control

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Biological Control

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).

Host-Plant Resistance

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).

Chemical Control

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.

IPM Programmes

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).

Phytosanitary Measures

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.

References

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