Pink Hibiscus Mealybug (Maconellicoccus hirstutus)

Agricultural Disaster Preparedness and Recovery April 19, 2016 Print Friendly and PDF

Pink hibiscus mealybug (PHM) can infect more than 300 plant species including hibiscus, citrus, coffee, sugarcane, plums, guava, mango, and several species of trees and shrubs. Like many other pests, PHM is common in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. In 2004, about 900,000 infested hibiscus plants were sent to 36 states from Florida; 11 of these states have climates suitable for PHM establishment. PHM also can become established in greenhouse facilities.

Adult PHM females are about a tenth of an inch long, wingless, and pinkish in color. PHMs have piercing/sucking mouthparts. When feeding, females inject a toxin that causes leaves to curl. Heavy infestations are characterized by heavy, white, cottony wax that accumulates on branches and stems. Infested structures, including leaves, can become covered with black sooty mold. As a result, plants exhibit stunted growth and deformed fruit.

Due to the large number and wide diversity of host plants, many states rely on biological control to keep PHM populations below economically damaging levels.

Additional information about PHM can be found at:

USDA APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine

North Central Integrated Pest Management Program

A distance education workshop on PHM is available at:

North Central Integrated Pest Management Center

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.