Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Pseudococcus viburni
(obscure mealybug)

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Datasheet

Pseudococcus viburni (obscure mealybug)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 27 September 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Pseudococcus viburni
  • Preferred Common Name
  • obscure mealybug
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Uniramia
  •         Class: Insecta
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • P. viburni, commonly known as obscure mealybug, is an unarmoured scale insect and a common pest in the UK, Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, the French Riviera, Iran, California and Chile. It can affect a nu...

  • Principal Source
  • Draft datasheet under review

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Pseudococcus viburni (obscure mealybug); adult, ventral view. Originally collected by G.M. Mess, 05 January 1949, England.
TitleAdult
CaptionPseudococcus viburni (obscure mealybug); adult, ventral view. Originally collected by G.M. Mess, 05 January 1949, England.
Copyright©Alessandra Rung/Scale Insects, USDA APHIS ITP/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Pseudococcus viburni (obscure mealybug); adult, ventral view. Originally collected by G.M. Mess, 05 January 1949, England.
AdultPseudococcus viburni (obscure mealybug); adult, ventral view. Originally collected by G.M. Mess, 05 January 1949, England.©Alessandra Rung/Scale Insects, USDA APHIS ITP/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Pseudococcus viburni (obscure mealybug); adult, on a Bromeliad spp. USA.
TitleAdult
CaptionPseudococcus viburni (obscure mealybug); adult, on a Bromeliad spp. USA.
Copyright©California Department of Food & Agriculture
Pseudococcus viburni (obscure mealybug); adult, on a Bromeliad spp. USA.
AdultPseudococcus viburni (obscure mealybug); adult, on a Bromeliad spp. USA.©California Department of Food & Agriculture

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Pseudococcus viburni Signoret

Preferred Common Name

  • obscure mealybug

Other Scientific Names

  • Dactylopius affinis Maskell, 1894
  • Dactylopius indicus Signoret, 1875
  • Pseudococcus affinis (Maskell, 1894)
  • Pseudococcus capensis Brain, 1912
  • Pseudococcus fathyi Bodenheimer, 1944
  • Pseudococcus indicus (Signoret, 1875)
  • Pseudococcus longispinus var. latipes
  • Pseudococcus malacearum
  • Pseudococcus nicotianae Leonardi, 1913
  • Pseudococcus obscurus Essig, 1909

International Common Names

  • English: Californian mealybug; greenhouse mealybug
  • Spanish: chinche harinoso; chinches harinosos; cochinilla harinosa
  • Portuguese: canchito blanco de la vid

Local Common Names

  • Australia: tuber mealybug
  • Germany: Affinis-Schmierlaus
  • Netherlands: Affiniswolluis
  • UK: glasshouse mealybug

EPPO code

  • PSECOB (Pseudococcus obscurus)

Summary of Invasiveness

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P. viburni, commonly known as obscure mealybug, is an unarmoured scale insect and a common pest in the UK, Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, the French Riviera, Iran, California and Chile. It can affect a number of fruit and nursery plants including apples, tomatoes, orchids and cacti and cause substantial damage to fruit orchards and vineyards. The degree of polyphagy of P. viburni, combined with its numerous economically important host-plants, have meant that it began to be carried on infested plant material between countries from an early date. The species was first recorded outside South America, in France by Signoret (1875), and its subsequent spread followed the trade routes between Europe and the rest of the world; the species is still increasing its geographical range. While obscure mealybug does not spread widely by its own means, human transport of infested plant material disseminates it over long distances very effectively. It has successfully adapted to life in a variety of ecological conditions and in the higher latitudes where it cannot survive winter outdoors, it thrives in greenhouses (Schoen and Martin, 1999).

P. viburni has been recorded transmitting plant virus diseases like the ampelovirus Grapevine Leafroll Associated Virus type III (GRLaV-3), which has seriously affected grapes in New Zealand and California.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Uniramia
  •                 Class: Insecta
  •                     Order: Hemiptera
  •                         Suborder: Sternorrhyncha
  •                             Unknown: Coccoidea
  •                                 Family: Pseudococcidae
  •                                     Genus: Pseudococcus
  •                                         Species: Pseudococcus viburni

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Pseudococcus viburni was spread from its area of origin early, by human transport of infested plants; subsequently, this has made it difficult to work out its area of origin. It is possible that P. viburni was brought into Europe on potatoes from South America via the Canary Islands, possibly in the sixteenth century (Charles, 2011). The mealybug was first described from France, as Dactylopius viburni (Signoret, 1875). Maskell (1894) described it from Australia as Dactylopius affinis. It reached California by 1898 (Gimpel and Miller, 1996) and Essig (1909) subsequently described it as Pseudococcus obscurus from there; Brain (1912) described it from South Africa as P. capensis. Leonardi (1913) described it from Italy as P. nicotianae, and Green (1917) described it from England as P. longispinus latipes. Bodenheimer (1944) described it again from Iran as P. fathyi.

Until about 1970, P. viburni was confused with P. maritimus (Ehrhorn), P. longispinus Targioni Tozzetti, P. obscurus, P. capensis, P. malacearum Ferris and P. affinis, e.g. by Ferris (1950) and McKenzie (1967). The morphological separation of P. viburni from P. maritimus was incrementally clarified by Cox (1987), Williams and Granara de Willink (1992) and Gimpel and Miller (1996). Von Ellenrieder and Watson (2016) provided an identification key to the Pseudococcus species found in the western hemisphere. Even now it is difficult to separate P. viburni from P. maritimus morphologically because both species show a lot of morphological variation (Gimpel and Miller, 1996); it is possible that what is presently called P. viburni may consist of several cryptic species (Charles, 2011). Molecular analysis of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I gene gives a separation. 

Description

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P. viburni, commonly known as obscure mealybug, is an unarmoured scale insect.

Live adult female 2.5-5 mm long, fairly flattened ovoid, body contents pinkish but surface coated with white mealy wax; margins with 17 pairs of projecting, slender white wax filaments, these often looking rather untidy; posteriormost one or two pairs of marginal filaments longest, 20-50% as long as the body. Antennae and legs fairly short, yellow; wings absent. At maturity, adult female secretes ovisac of white wax filaments below and behind abdomen, into which yellow eggs are laid. The three immature stages of the female are all similar to the adult but smaller; all lack wing buds.

Male with four immature stages: live first instar indistinguishable from that of female, feeds actively. Second instar feeds and secretes a cocoon of filamentous wax before moulting into a non-feeding pre-pupa with small wing buds; this in turn moults into a non-feeding pupa with larger wing buds, which eventually moults into the adult male with long antennae, well-developed legs and one pair of wings. The adult rests until two long white wax tail filaments have been secreted, before leaving the cocoon to seek females.

Distribution

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For a long time, P. viburni was confused with P. maritimus and several other Pseudococcus species, hampering attempts to trace its origin. Evidence suggests that P. viburni and its specific wasp parasitoid Acerophagus maculipennis co-evolved in the temperate regions of South America, possibly in south-central Chile (Charles, 2011). The mealybug seems to thrive best in cool-warm temperate climates (Charles, 2011). Records from Ecuador in the literature have been shown to be incorrect; surveys by the national plant protection organization of Ecuador in 2013-2014 showed that P. viburni does not occur there (EPPO, 2015).

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

AfghanistanPresentIntroducedKozar et al., 1996; EPPO, 2014
ChinaPresentIntroducedGimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
Georgia (Republic of)PresentIntroducedTimofeeva, 1979; EPPO, 2014
IndonesiaPresentIntroducedWilliams, 2004; EPPO, 2014
-JavaPresentIntroducedWilliams, 2004; EPPO, 2014
IranPresentIntroducedBodenheimer, 1944; EPPO, 2014
IsraelPresentIntroducedBen-Dov, 1987; EPPO, 2014
Korea, Republic ofPresentIntroducedGimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
PhilippinesPresentIntroducedWilliams, 2004; EPPO, 2014
Sri LankaPresentIntroducedGimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
TurkeyPresentIntroducedUygun et al., 1998; EPPO, 2014

Africa

MoroccoPresentIntroducedGimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
Saint HelenaPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; Garcia et al., 2016
South AfricaPresentIntroducedGimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
Spain
-Canary IslandsPresentIntroducedCarnero and Perez, 1986; EPPO, 2014
ZimbabwePresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014

North America

CanadaPresentIntroducedGimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
-British ColumbiaPresentIntroducedKozár et al., 1989; EPPO, 2014
-New BrunswickPresentIntroducedKosztarab, 1996; EPPO, 2014
MexicoPresentGimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
USAPresentIntroduced Invasive Gimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
-AlabamaPresentIntroduced Invasive Gimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
-CaliforniaPresentIntroduced Invasive Gimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
-ConnecticutPresentIntroduced Invasive Gimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
-DelawarePresentIntroduced Invasive Gimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
-District of ColumbiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Gimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
-GeorgiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Gimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive Hata and Hara, 1992; EPPO, 2014Hawaii Island
-IllinoisPresentIntroduced Invasive Gimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
-IndianaPresentIntroduced Invasive Gimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
-IowaPresentIntroduced Invasive Gimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
-MarylandPresentIntroduced Invasive Gimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
-MassachusettsPresentIntroduced Invasive Gimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
-MichiganPresentIntroduced Invasive Gimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
-MissouriPresentIntroduced Invasive Gimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
-New JerseyPresentIntroduced Invasive Gimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
-New YorkPresentIntroduced Invasive Gimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
-North CarolinaPresentIntroduced Invasive Gimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
-OhioPresentIntroduced Invasive Gimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
-OregonPresentIntroduced Invasive Gimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
-PennsylvaniaPresentIntroduced Invasive Gimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
-South CarolinaPresentIntroduced Invasive Gimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
-UtahPresentIntroduced Invasive Gimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
-VirginiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Gimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
-WashingtonPresentIntroduced Invasive Gimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
-West VirginiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Gimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
-WisconsinPresentIntroduced Invasive Gimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014

Central America and Caribbean

Costa RicaPresentGimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
CubaPresentGimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
GuadeloupePresentMatile-Ferrero and Etienne, 2006; EPPO, 2014
GuatemalaPresentGimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
JamaicaPresentGimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
PanamaPresentGimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014

South America

ArgentinaPresentGranara Willink MCde, 1991; Gimpel and Miller, 1996; Dapoto et al., 2011; EPPO, 2014
BoliviaPresentWilliams and Willink, 1992; EPPO, 2014
BrazilPresentWilliams and Willink, 1992; EPPO, 2014
-Espirito SantoPresentCulik and Gullan, 2005; EPPO, 2014
-Minas GeraisPresentCulik and Gullan, 2005; EPPO, 2014
-Rio de JaneiroPresentCulik and Gullan, 2005; EPPO, 2014
-Rio Grande do SulPresentFoldi and Kozar, 2006; EPPO, 2014
-Sao PauloPresentCulik and Gullan, 2005; EPPO, 2014
ChilePresentGonzález, 1983; EPPO, 2014
-Easter IslandPresentIntroducedGimpel and Miller, 1996
EcuadorAbsent, formerly presentEPPO, 2015The National Plant Protection Organization of Equador in 2013 officially declared that P. viburni has never occurred there, contradicting records on ScaleNet (based on Ben-Dov, 1994), Williams and Granara de Willink (1992) and Gimpel and Miller (1996). Intensive monitoring in 2013-14 by the NPPO confirmed the absence of this mealybug (NPPO of Ecuador 2013-09, 2014-07).
PeruPresentSalazar, 1972; EPPO, 2014
UruguayPresentGranara et al., 1997; EPPO, 2014
VenezuelaPresentWilliams and Willink, 1992; EPPO, 2014

Europe

AustriaPresentIntroducedMalumphy, 2011
BelgiumPresentIntroducedGimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
BulgariaPresentIntroducedKozar et al., 1979; EPPO, 2014
CroatiaPresentIntroduced2006Milek and Simala, 2008; EPPO, 2014
CyprusPresentIntroducedSisman and Ülgentürk, 2010; EPPO, 2014
Czech RepublicPresentIntroducedZahradnik, 1990; EPPO, 2014
DenmarkPresentIntroducedGimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
FrancePresentIntroducedGimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
GermanyLocalisedIntroducedGimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014Transient in one location (Baden-Wurttenberg), under eradication
GreecePresentIntroducedMilonas et al., 2008; EPPO, 2014
HungaryPresentIntroducedKozar, 1980; EPPO, 2014
ItalyPresentIntroducedTranfaglia, 1973; EPPO, 2014
-SardiniaPresentIntroducedLongo et al., 1995; EPPO, 2014
-SicilyPresentIntroducedLongo et al., 1995; EPPO, 2014
NetherlandsPresentIntroducedGimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
PortugalPresentIntroducedKozar and Franco, 1995; EPPO, 2014
-AzoresPresentIntroduced2005Bettencourt and Simoes, 2008; EPPO, 2014First recorded in 2005 on Pico and Terceira Islands
-MadeiraPresentIntroducedGimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
SloveniaPresentIntroduced2000Seljak, 2008; EPPO, 2014
SpainPresentIntroducedGomez-Menor Ortega, 1937; EPPO, 2014
SwedenPresentIntroducedGimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
SwitzerlandPresentIntroducedKozar et al., 1996; EPPO, 2014
UKPresentIntroducedGimpel and Miller, 1996; EPPO, 2014
-Channel IslandsPresentIntroducedWilliams, 1962; EPPO, 2014
-England and WalesPresentIntroducedWilliams, 1962; Ben-Dov, 1994; EPPO, 2014
-ScotlandAbsent, never occurredWilliams, 1962; EPPO, 2014

Oceania

AustraliaPresentGullan, 2000; EPPO, 2014
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresentEPPO, 2014
-New South WalesPresentMaskell, 1894; EPPO, 2014
-QueenslandPresentWilliams, 1985; EPPO, 2014
-South AustraliaPresentWilliams, 1985; EPPO, 2014
-VictoriaPresentWilliams, 1985; EPPO, 2014
-Western AustraliaPresentWilliams, 1985; EPPO, 2014
New ZealandPresentIntroduced Invasive Ward, 1966; EPPO, 2014

History of Introduction and Spread

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It is now thought that P. viburni probably originated from South America, possibly from south-central Chile (Charles, 2011), but by the late 1800s it had spread to France and Australia, and by the early 1900s it was present in California, South Africa, Italy and England (Signoret, 1875; Maskell, 1894; Essig, 1909; Brain, 1912; Leonardi, 1913; Green, 1917). It then spread into the Middle East (Bodenheimer, 1944) and has continued extending its geographical range to the present day.

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Azores 2005 Yes No Bettencourt and Simoes (2008)
Croatia 2006 No No Milek and Simala (2008)
Slovenia 2000 No No Seljak (2008)

Risk of Introduction

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The degree of polyphagy of P. viburni, its numerous economically important host-plants, and the rapid escalation of international trade in fresh plant material and produce, mean that this species presents a high risk of introduction.

Habitat

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P. viburni can occur on all parts of the host-plant. On grapevines in California, it mostly feeds under the bark on the trunk and older stems, but some immature stages feed on the leaf undersides (UC IPM, 2015). In dry conditions in Australia, the mealybugs feed on the roots of fruit trees (Williams, 1985).

Habitat List

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CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Littoral
Coastal areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural
Other
Stored products Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial-managed
Buildings Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Protected agriculture (e.g. glasshouse production) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Protected agriculture (e.g. glasshouse production) Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Rail / roadsides Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural
Natural forests Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Scrub / shrublands Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContext
Alpinia purpurata (red ginger)ZingiberaceaeUnknown
Bambusa (bamboo)PoaceaeOther
BrassicaBrassicaceaeOther
Camellia sinensis (tea)TheaceaeMain
CitrusRutaceaeMain
CrassulaceaeCrassulaceaeMain
Cucurbita pepo (marrow)CucurbitaceaeOther
Diospyros (malabar ebony)EbenaceaeUnknown
Diospyros kaki (persimmon)EbenaceaeOther
Ficus carica (common fig)MoraceaeOther
GardeniaRubiaceaeOther
Glycine max (soyabean)FabaceaeOther
Juglans regia (walnut)JuglandaceaeOther
Malus domestica (apple)RosaceaeMain
Orchidaceae (orchids)OrchidaceaeMain
Pelargonium (pelargoniums)GeraniaceaeMain
Prunus domestica (plum)RosaceaeOther
Punica granatum (pomegranate)PunicaceaeOther
Pyrus communis (European pear)RosaceaeMain
Saintpaulia (african violet)GesneriaceaeOther
Solanum tuberosum (potato)SolanaceaeMain
Vitis vinifera (grapevine)VitaceaeMain
Zea mays (maize)PoaceaeOther

Growth Stages

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

List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Fruit / external feeding
Fruit / honeydew or sooty mould
Growing point / external feeding
Growing point / honeydew or sooty mould
Inflorescence / external feeding
Leaves / abnormal leaf fall
Leaves / external feeding
Leaves / honeydew or sooty mould
Leaves / leaves rolled or folded
Leaves / wilting
Roots / external feeding
Stems / external feeding
Stems / honeydew or sooty mould
Vegetative organs / external feeding
Whole plant / early senescence
Whole plant / external feeding

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

Aspects of the chromosome system of P. viburni were documented under the name P. obscurus (Nur 1962a, 1962b, 1966a, 1966b, 1977).

Reproductive Biology

P. viburni reproduces sexually and there are 2-3 generations each year. Overwintering occurs under the bark, mostly as eggs and first instars, although there is no true dormancy; however, eggs will not hatch while conditions are too cold (UC IPM, 2015). The overwinter mortality of nymphs is high, but a few individuals (normally the ones quickest to hatch) survive and feed and develop on the first spring leaves. Usually the adult females return to the bark on old wood, to each lay several hundred yellow to orange eggs in an ovisac of white wax filaments formed beneath and behind the abdomen. The eggs hatch into first-instar crawlers in 5-10 days depending on temperature. Females of the first generation often take 6-9 weeks to reach maturity, although at high temperatures maturation may take only about 22 days. Adult females emit a sex pheromone to attract the ephemeral, winged males; pheromone production ceases once mating has occurred.

Activity Patterns

In late spring on grapevines some individuals move from the trunk and large branches to the new leaves to feed, later colonizing the fruit clusters; but most of the mealybugs remain hidden under the bark on the trunk and old branches (UC IPM, 2015).

Nutrition

P. viburni sucks large quantities of sugary phloem sap in order to obtain sufficient amino acids, depriving the host-plant of water and carbohydrates. The mealybugs therefore excrete copious quantities of sugary honeydew, which fouls the plant surfaces and gives rise to sooty mould growth.

Associations

Sugary honeydew excreted by P. viburni attracts attendant ants, e.g. Formica spp. or the Argentine ant, Linepithema humile. The ants benefit from a reliable source of carbohydrate and defend the mealybugs from attack by their natural enemies (Phillips and Sherk, 1991).

Environmental Requirements

The spread of P. viburni to many parts of the world and different latitudes indicates that it is an adaptable species that can tolerate a wide range of conditions. It seems to thrive best in cool-warm temperate climates such as those in the southern Mediterranean, southern Africa, southern Australia and New Zealand (Charles, 2011). A detailed study of its environmental tolerances has not been done.

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Tolerated Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
BS - Steppe climate Tolerated > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
BW - Desert climate Tolerated < 430mm annual precipitation
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Tolerated Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)
Ds - Continental climate with dry summer Tolerated Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)
Dw - Continental climate with dry winter Tolerated Continental climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry winters)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
45 45

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Acerophagus flavidulus Parasite to species USA (California) Vineyards
Acerophagus maculipennis Parasite to species Southern Europe Vineyards
Anagyrus fusciventris Parasite
Anagyrus pseudococci Parasite California Citrus
Chrysoplatycerus splendens Parasite South Africa pears
Coccophagus gurneyi Parasite Adults/Nymphs
Cryptolaemus montrouzieri Predator All Stages not specific On crops under glass
Cryptoscenea australiensis Predator Adults/Nymphs
Diadiplosis koebelei Predator Adults/Nymphs
Leptomastix dactylopii Parasite
Nephus reunioni Predator Adults/Nymphs France clementines
Ophelosia charlesi Parasite
Pseudaphycus flavidulus Parasite Chile
Scymnus guttigera Predator Adults/Nymphs South Africa pears
Scymnus sordidus Predator Adults/Nymphs South Africa pears
Sympherobius maculipennis Predator Adults/Nymphs Chile
Tetracnemoidea brevicornis Parasite
Tetracnemoidea peregrina Parasite
Tetracnemoidea sydneyensis Parasite
Zarhopalus corvinus Parasite South Africa pears

Notes on Natural Enemies

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As the locality of the origin of the species is still rather uncertain, associated natural enemies are relatively uncertain (Charles, 2011). Ants attending P. viburni for the sugary honeydew it excretes defend the mealybugs from their natural enemies, allowing the pest to multiply. The density of P. viburni in California coastal vineyards increased significantly when tended by Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) and the density of encyrtid parasitoids and predators decreased in vineyards with Argentine ants (Phillips and Sherk, 1991). 

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

Dispersal of P. viburni within the host-plant is mostly the result of walking by first-instar crawlers and other developmental stages of the female. In late spring on grapevines, some individuals move to the leaves to feed, but most remain hidden under the bark or inside tight clusters of fruits. Passive dispersal over greater distances may be aided by wind.

Vector Transmission

Ants attending the mealybugs for their honeydew may carry them to other parts of the plant, particularly when conditions are unfavourable. The density of P. viburni in California coastal vineyards increased significantly when tended by Linepithema humile (Phillips and Sherk, 1991).

Passive dispersal over greater distances may be aided by animal agencies such as birds or humans.

Accidental Introduction

Passive dispersal over long distances may be aided by transport on dirty agricultural equipment, or by the movement of infested plant material from one place to another. 

In the growing season, plant collectors, of for example, orchids, bamboos and proteas may share plant material by mail and hence cause dispersal of the obscure mealybug locally or over long distances. 

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Botanical gardens and zoosOn imported plants Yes
Breeding and propagationOn nursery stock Yes Yes
Crop productionOn infested plants e.g. grapevines, fruit trees, and on fruits Yes
Cut flower tradeOn cut flowers Yes
Escape from confinement or garden escapeOn ornamental plants Yes
Garden waste disposalOn infested prunings Yes
HitchhikerOn farm machinery used in infested vineyards or orchards Yes Yes
HorticultureOn planting stock Yes Yes
Internet salesOn ornamental plants Yes Yes
Landscape improvementOn ornamental shrubs and trees Yes Yes
Nursery tradeOn ornamental plants, shrubs and trees Yes Yes
Ornamental purposesOn ornamental nursery plants Yes Yes
People sharing resourcesHarvest time; sharing produce with friends and relatives Yes Yes
SmugglingHarvest time; sending parcels of fruits or plants without going through quarantine Yes Yes

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
AircraftOccasional, females on fresh cut plant material and fruits Yes
Bulk freight or cargoOften, all stages, in nursery plant shipments Yes
Clothing, footwear and possessionsHarvest time, crawlers, on clothes of vineyard workers Yes
Land vehiclesHarvest time, crawlers, on hired or shared farm vehicles Yes
Machinery and equipmentHarvest time, crawlers, on hired or shared farm machinery Yes
MailOccasional, all stages, in parcels of fruits or plants without going through quarantine Yes
Plants or parts of plantsOccasional, all stages, on cut flowers, whole plants Yes
WindGrowing season; first-instar crawlers blown away 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; nymphs; pupae Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Bulbs/Tubers/Corms/Rhizomes adults; eggs; nymphs; pupae Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Flowers/Inflorescences/Cones/Calyx adults; eggs; nymphs; pupae Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Fruits (inc. pods) adults; eggs; nymphs; pupae Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Growing medium accompanying plants nymphs Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Leaves adults; eggs; nymphs; pupae Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Roots adults; eggs; nymphs; pupae Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches adults; eggs; nymphs; pupae Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope

Wood Packaging

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Wood Packaging liable to carry the pest in trade/transportTimber typeUsed as packing
Solid wood packing material without bark Fresh wood with bark attached Yes

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Cultural/amenity Negative
Economic/livelihood Negative
Environment (generally) Negative

Economic Impact

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P. viburni is the commonest greenhouse mealybug in the UK (Williams, 1962), and is a pest of tomatoes under glass in the Netherlands (Schoen and Martin, 1999). Under glass it weakens plants by extracting sap, and honeydew fouling with associated sooty mould growth spoils the appearance of fruit and nursery plants and may cause leaf drop, especially on orchids, coleus, cacti and Solanum species. In vineyards and fruit orchards, P. viburni is the most important underground mealybug pest in Australia (Williams, 1985); it is a pest on apples in Israel (Ben-Dov, 1990), on citrus in the French Riviera (Panis, 1986); on tea in Iran, on grapevines in California (Phillips and Sherk, 1991) and in intensive horticulture in Chile (González, 2003). Obscure mealybug has caused particularly substantial damage to vineyards in the north and central parts of California (UC IPM, 2015), where it is an introduced species (Charles, 2011). Grapes are damaged by contamination of the fruit clusters with mealybugs, egg sacs, honeydew and sooty mould (UC IPM, 2015), rendering wine grapes unsuitable for crushing, grapes unsuitable for drying to produce raisins, and reducing the market value of table grapes. P. viburni is now rarely seen in New Zealand fruit crops, thanks to IPM and A. maculipennis

P. viburni has been recorded transmitting plant virus diseases like the ampelovirus Grapevine Leafroll Associated Virus type III (GRLaV-3), which has seriously affected grapes in New Zealand, reducing crop yield by up to 60% (Charles et al., 2006). This is also a problem in California. Physiological symptoms of GLRaV-3 infected vines include degeneration of phloem cells in leaves, stems and fruit petioles, usually accompanied by an accumulation of starch in infected leaves, which may be the feedback mechanism whereby photosynthetic activities are shut down. Photosynthesis is reduced by 25-65%, depending on cultivar and environment, directly affecting growth and yield even in vines that do not reveal visual symptoms. Cane weight, stem girth and even root growth may be reduced (Charles et al., 2006).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Capable of securing and ingesting a wide range of food
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Has high reproductive potential
Impact outcomes
  • Host damage
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts livelihoods
  • Negatively impacts animal/plant collections
  • Damages animal/plant products
  • Negatively impacts trade/international relations
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Pest and disease transmission
  • Fouling
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally illegally
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field
  • Difficult/costly to control

Detection and Inspection

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Field diagnosis

On grapevines, P. viburni can occur together with grape mealybug (Pseudococcus maritimus), longtailed mealybug (Pseudococcus longispinus), vine mealybug (Planococcus ficus) and citrophilus mealybug (Pseudococcus calceolariae). In both P. viburni and P. maritimus, live adult female elongate oval, 1.5-3.5 mm long, coated with a white layer of mealy wax. Body with 17 pairs of slender white lateral wax filaments, often crooked and untidy-looking, the posteriormost pair of filaments longest, 20-50% as long as the body. When aggressively disturbed, both P. viburni and P. maritimus exude droplets of tissue fluid through the paired ostiolar openings near the front or rear ends; in P. viburni, the ostiolar fluid is clear and colourless to slightly pink, whereas in P. maritimus it is more opaque and orange-red (UC IPM, 2015).

In live adult female P. longispinus, body with 17 pairs of slender white lateral wax filaments, the posterior two pairs as long as or longer than the body, much longer than in P. viburni or P. maritimus. In contrast, P. ficus has 18 pairs of short, rather thick lateral wax filaments with rough surfaces, the posteriormost being less than 20% as long as the body.

Authoritative identification of P. viburni requires expert study of slide-mounted adult females under high magnification. A method for preparation of stained slide mounts of female mealybugs was provided by Sirisena et al. (2013). Slide-mounted adult female described and illustrated by Ferris (1950), McKenzie (1967), Ter-Grigorian (1973), Cox (1987), Williams and Granara de Willink (1992), Gimpel and Miller (1996) and Williams (2004). The morphology of the first instar was described by Ter-Grigorian (1973), and a description and illustration of the third-instar nymph was provided by Gimpel and Miller (1996). Gullan (2000) provided an identification key to immature mealybugs (including P. viburni) on citrus in Australia.

Separation of the genus Pseudococcus from other species of mealybug

Body of slide-mounted adult female oval, 2-4 mm long. Cerarii on margins numbering 17 pairs or fewer. Anal lobe cerarii each containing 2 conical setae, with or without auxiliary setae; other cerarii usually each containing only 2 conical setae, auxiliary setae usually present. Oral rim ducts present somewhere on the body, in some species each duct closely associated with discoidal pores or 1 or 2 setae. Discoidal pores sparsely scattered throughout body, in some species closely associated with the eyes and in a few species, these pores enclosed in a sclerotized rim around the eye. Anterior and posterior ostioles present. Anal lobes moderately developed, each with ventral sclerotization triangular to rectangular. Antenna usually 8 segmented. Legs well developed; claw without any denticle. Translucent pores present on hind tibia and sometimes on hind femur. Body setae normally flagellate but a few species have some conical dorsal setae. Circulus often present, divided by intersegmental line. Anal ring bearing numerous pores in two rows. Multilocular disc pores present on venter of abdomen, sometimes further anteriorly; in a few species, also present on dorsum. Oral collar ducts, sometimes of more than one size, present on venter in rows across some abdominal segments; sometimes also present submarginally or submedially on head and thorax (Williams and Granara de Willink, 1992Gimpel and Miller, 1996; von Ellenrieder and Watson, 2012).

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Separation of slide-mounted adult female P. viburni from other species of Pseudococcus

Adult female P. viburni has eyes associated with discoidal pores not set in a sclerotized rim; circulus 70-150 μm wide; multilocular pores absent from dorsum, present on venter as far forwards as abdominal segment five at least, absent from anterior to clypeus; translucent pores present on both hind femur and tibia; cerarii numbering 15-17 pairs; dorsal oral rim tubular duct absent from area between preocular and ocular cerarii (cerarius 15 and cerarius 16) and anterior ostiole. In contrast, P. maritimus has dorsal oral rim tubular duct absent from area between preocular and ocular cerarii (cerarius 15 and cerarius 16) and anterior ostiole (von Ellenrieder and Watson, 2016). Molecular analysis of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I gene gives an authoritative identification.

Field diagnosis

On grapevines, P. viburni can occur together with grape mealybug (Pseudococcus maritimus), longtailed mealybug (Pseudococcus longispinus) and vine mealybug (Planococcus ficus ). In both P. viburni and P. maritimus, live adult female elongate oval, 1.5-3.5 mm long, coated with a white layer of mealy wax. Body with 17 pairs of slender white lateral wax filaments, often crooked and untidy-looking, the posteriormost pair of filaments longest, 20-50% as long as the body. When aggressively disturbed, both P. viburni and P. maritimus exude droplets of tissue fluid through the paired ostiolar openings near the front or rear ends; in P. viburni, the ostiolar fluid is clear and colourless to slightly pink, whereas in P. maritimus it is more opaque and orange-red (UC IPM, 2015).

In live adult female P. longispinus, body with 17 pairs of slender white lateral wax filaments, the posterior two pairs as long as or longer than the body, much longer than in P. viburni or P. maritimus. In contrast, P. ficus has 18 pairs of short, rather thick lateral wax filaments with rough surfaces, the posteriormost being less than 20% as long as the body.

Prevention and Control

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Prevention

Dispersal by wind is an important factor in new infestations in vineyards or orchards but obscure mealybug can also be introduced by planting infested stock, and can spread between plants that are touching; so plant with mealybug-free stock and prune to prevent canopies touching (UC IPM, 2015). Infested prunings should be taken away and burned or buried. In glasshouses, new plants should be quarantined for about a month and treated if signs of mealybug infestation develop. Infestations can be reduced by pruning, or washing with a high-powered spray; on cacti, brushing may help to reduce mealybug infestation before treatment (UC IPM, 2015). 

In vineyards, honeydew-seeking ants must be controlled to allow natural enemies to attack the mealybugs; sometimes this is sufficient to result in full control (Phillips and Sherk, 1991). Ant populations can be reduced by tillage or use of cover crops of common vetch (Vicia sativa), whose extra-floral nectaries lure the ants out of the vines, leaving the mealybugs undefended from attack by their natural enemies (UC IPM, 2015).

Early Warning Systems

On grapes, detecting and marking infestations during harvest and pruning is key to monitoring populations the following season. Pheromone-baited sticky traps could be used to detect male P. viburni in vineyards; however, the males of P. viburni and P. maritimus, both of which can occur in vineyards, are morphologically indistinguishable. Their sex pheromones remain a reliable indicator for monitoring presence or absence though (JG Charles, The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Limited, New Zealand, personal communication, 2017). 

Control

Cultural Control and Sanitary Measures

Obscure mealybug is usually introduced by planting infested stock, and only spreads between plants that are touching; so plant with mealybug-free stock and prune to prevent canopies touching. On grapes, detecting and marking infestations during harvest is key to monitoring populations the following season (UC IPM, 2015). In glasshouses, new plants should be quarantined for about a month and treated if signs of mealybug infestation develop. Infestations can be reduced by pruning, or washing with a high-powered spray; on cacti, brushing may help to reduce mealybug infestation before treatment (Barker, 2016).

Honeydew-seeking ants must be controlled to allow natural enemies to attack the mealybugs; sometimes this is sufficient to result in full control (Phillips and Sherk, 1991). Ant populations can be reduced by tillage or use of cover crops of common vetch (Vicia sativa), whose extra-floral nectaries lure the ants out of the vines, leaving the mealybugs undefended from attack by their natural enemies (UC IPM, 2015).

Pheromone-baited sticky traps could be used to detect male P. viburni in vineyards; however, the males of P. viburni and P. maritimus, both of which can occur in vineyards, are morphologically indistinguishable.

Physical/Mechanical Control

Pruning

P. viburni only spreads between plants that are touching; so prune to prevent canopies touching. Infested prunings should be taken away and burned or buried, not left on the ground where mealybugs may be able to walk back onto the host-plant.

Biological Control

Control of ants attending the mealybugs allows natural enemies access to the pests, which can result in population reduction or even full control (Phillips and Sherk, 1991). Natural enemies recorded attacking P. viburni include predators like Cryptolaemus montrouzieri, Nephus sp. and Scymnus spp.; and nine species of parasitoid wasp (García et al., 2016). The parasitoid Acerophagus flavidulus from Chile has been introduced and is established in California (Daane et al., 2008), and Acerophagus maculipennis (probably of Chilean origin) has been used in Australia (New South Wales) (Page and Nimmo, 2000), New Zealand and the Republic of Georgia, and provides effective biological control of P. viburni in southern France (Charles, 2011). Both these species of Acerophagus are thought to be native to Chile and Argentina (Charles, 2011). P. viburni can encapsulate the eggs of Leptomastix epona and L. dactylopii Howard (Daane et al., 2008); but L. epona has been used successfully to control P. viburni in glasshouses (Charles, 2011). Under glass, the predator Cryptolaemus montrouzieri is effective for controlling obscure mealybug in high light intensities and above 20°C (Barker, 2016).

Chemical Control

Attendant ants can be controlled by the use of ant baits, or sprays of chlorpyrifos on the soil surface. In any one year, chlorpyriphos can be used to control either ants or mealybugs in the vineyard but not both at the same time (UC IPM, 2015). Once ants are controlled, biological control will help keep mealybug populations down, but an infestation may gradually spread if not controlled with insecticides. Spot treatment with pesticide allows natural enemies to thrive in untreated parts of the vineyard. If widespread treatment is necessary it is wise to leave one in 10 acres untreated (or treated with a pesticide not toxic to parasites) to serve as a natural enemy refuge (UC IPM, 2015).

Since obscure mealybug's waxy coating and habit of seeking sheltered feeding sites protect it from water-based contact pesticides (Charles, 2004), oil-based organophosphate pesticides are more effective in reducing population density in orchards, though such pesticides can harm plants if applied after the first budding. However, some New Zealand obscure mealybug populations have developed resistance to organophosphate pesticides (Charles, 2004). Systemic insecticides can be used as an alternative. Field workers can be educated to recognize mealybug infestations and flag the vines for spot treatment (UC IPM, 2015). Under glass, insecticidal soaps (which block the spiracles so the insects suffocate) can be effective.

IPM

The IPM practices used to control P. viburni on grapevines in California are described by UC IPM (2015), and the practices used in New Zealand orchards are discussed by Charles (2004).

Monitoring and Surveillance

On grapes, detecting and marking infestations during harvest and pruning is key to monitoring populations the following season. Pheromone-baited sticky traps could be used to detect male P. viburni in vineyards; however, the males of P. viburni and P. maritimus, both of which can occur in vineyards, are morphologically indistinguishable.

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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A detailed study of the environmental tolerances of P. viburni has not been done. A CLIMEX analysis might be very informative about its environmental requirements and which parts of the world are at risk of invasion by this mealybug.

Molecular analysis of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I gene and some nuclear genes from multiple populations from around the world would clarify whether P. viburni is a single species or a cryptic species complex.

References

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Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
EPPO Global Databasehttp://gd.eppo.int
Scalenethttp://scalenet.info

Organizations

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France: European Plant Protection Organization (EPPO), 21 boulevard Richard Lenoir 75011 Paris, https://www.eppo.int

Principal Source

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Draft datasheet under review

Contributors

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31/05/16 Original text by: 

Gillian Watson, California Department of Food and Agriculture, California, USA

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