Maconellicoccus hirsutus

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Maconellicoccus hirsutus (click on image to enlarge it)
Source: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services - IPM Images

Maconellicoccus hirsutus (Green, 1908) - (hibiscus mealybug)

This is a wide-spread and polyphagous mealybug in tropical and subtropical regions, probably native to southern Asia. The mealybug was recorded in Egypt since 1912 and Hawaii since 1984. It was found in the Caribbean island of Grenada in 1994 and has spread quickly through the neighbouring islands and to other parts of the Americas. It has reached California in 1999, Florida in 2002 and Brazil in 2010. The mealybug attacks crops like vegetables and ornamentals. All parts of the host plant can become infested. Damage symptoms include stunting, leaf curling and other deformations.

First instar crawlers disperse through the wind and introduction into to a new country usually occurs through the transport of infested plants. Populations can increase rapidly and there may be up to 15 generations per year. The establishment of natural enemies with a limited host range, like Anagyrus kamali, has been the main approach to control this pest. Chemical control is discouraged because it has negative effects on the natural enemies.

Vernacular names
• Deutsch: Hibiscus-Schmierlaus
• English: hibiscus mealybug
pink hibiscus mealybug
grapevine mealybug
pink mealybug
• Español: cochinilla rosada de la cayena
cochinilla harinosa rosada de hibisco
• Français: cochenille de l'hibiscus
• Português: cochonilha-rosada

A large number of natural enemies have been recorded with many being generalist predators. More specific natural enemies used in biological control programs are the parasitoid Gyranusoidea indica as well as the ladybird beetle Cryptolaemus montrouzieri which also attacks Planococcus citri and other mealybugs.

Adult females are around 3 mm long, with a pinkish colour and covered by a thin layer of wax secretions. There is a pair of short caudal filaments, but no lateral filaments. Eggs are orange to pink and are often produced parthenogenetically. The winged adult males have 2 long waxy tails. The life cycle from egg to mature female lasts 4-5 weeks.

Maconellicoccus pasaniae

For a review see Chong et al., 2015.