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Citrus Mealybug

Planococcus citri

Citrus Mealybugs are a little sap-sucking insect, Grey in colour with a white dusty wax covering. Tend to affect glasshouse plants or houseplants as they require warm temperatures to survive. They tend to live together in dense groups, in protected parts of plants. As they suck large amounts of sap from plants, to gain sufficient nutrition, they produce a sticky sugary substance, called honeydew. This honeydew falls on to the leaves below infestation and a grey mould called Sooty mould may develop. This mould may reduce the plants ability to photosynthesise.

Detection

Appearance
Activity is reliant on temperature but can be year round. Summer time is often when infestation is at its greatest. Adult Citrus Mealybugs are about 3mm to 4mm in lenght. They are grey in colour with a white dusty wax covering to the body. There are many generations in a year if conditions are continuously warm. Tiny eggs are laid in clusters and are covered with the same white dusty wax as the adult. The nymph stage of the Citrus Mealybug development, looks like a mini version of the adult.
Symptoms
Small patches of the white dusty wax is found on the plant, at leaf joints, the underside of leaves on the edge of the main vein or other tucked away areas. A sticky substance may be found on the top side of the lower plant leaves, know as Honeydew. Ultimately a grey mould called Sooty mould may develop on the Honeydew, which may affect the plants ability to photosynthesise and reduce growth of the plant. As Citrus Mealybugs are a sap-sucking insect, they could possibly transfer virus from one plant to another.

Personality

Order
Hemiptera
Family
Pseudococcidae
Metamorphosis
Incomplete
Distribution
World wide

Biological treatment

Squashing with fingers and hand removal. Check all new plants coming into the growing area to reduce opportunity of introducing pest to your other plants. Biological control Crytolaemus montrouzieri (a specific ladybird) can be purchased online. Need to be used in a environment such as a sealed glasshouse or they may leave if windows or doors are open.

Chemical treatment

Few chemical controls are suitable because of the dusty wax covering the Citrus Mealybugs, most chemicals are repelled. Please check with your local Garden Centre for up to date chemical availability.

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