Maconellicoccus hirsutus, the pink hibiscus mealybug (PHM) is native to Asia.
The adult female is about 0.12 in. (3 mm) long and wingless with white, flocculent wax covering the dorsal surface. It has two short, inconspicuous caudal filaments and no lateral wax filaments. The female's body and body fluid are both reddish. The female secretes a white cotton like egg mass, irregular in shape, and lays from 300 to 600 pink eggs inside. First-instar nymphs, or pink crawlers, emerge from the eggs. When the egg mass is teased open, the pink eggs and crawlers are exposed and easily seen. In tropical climates, it takes about 30 days to complete 1 generation. Smaller than the female mealybugs, adult males are reddish brown and have one pair of wings and two long wax caudal filaments. The males have nonfunctional mouthparts. Males do not feed and live for only a few days. Unmated females produce a sex pheromone (an attractant scent) that lures PHM males for mating.
The pink hibiscus mealybug (PHM) - Maconellicoccus hirsutus (Green) - is a serious new threat to U.S. Agriculture. It attacks more than 200 kinds of plants, including beans, chrysanthemum, citrus, coconut, coffee, cotton, corn, croton, cucumber, grape, guava, hibiscus, peanuts, pumpkin, rose, and mulberry. This pest is presently established in central and northern Africa, India, Pakistan, northern Australia, and southeastern Asia. But it has recently arrived in tropical areas in the Western Hemisphere. Since it arrived in Grenada in 1994, the PHM has spread to Guyana in South America and at least 14 other Caribbean islands: St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands; Vieques in Puerto Rico; Tortola in the British Virgin Islands; and St. Martin, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts, Nevis, Anguilla, Antigua, Ste. Lucia, St. Vincent, And Trinidad and Tobago. Eventually, this mealybug will spread to the continental United States. The job of keeping this exotic pest out of the country is the responsibility of the Plant Protection and Quarantine branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
Parasites are considered the long-term solution to this mealybug infestation. The parasites are self-perpetuating: once released into an area and established, they persist even when the mealybug is at low population densities, and they continue to attack the mealybug, keeping populations below economic injury levels.
Identification, Biology, Control and Management Resources