Maconellicoccus hirsutus (Green)
Significance: The Department of Agriculture (DoA) in Grand Cayman reports that the pink hibiscus mealybug (PHM), Maconellicoccus hirsutus (Green), was found in George Town, Grand Cayman. Samples submitted were confirmed by the Florida Division of Plant Industry in Gainesville on June 21, 2006.
Since conventional chemical control measures have proven ineffective in controlling PHM the DoA has launched an integrated pest management plan and is working diligently to delineate the situation, raise public awareness and work towards eradication.
Issues of Concern: The pink hibiscus mealybug has no local predators on Grand Cayman and can attack a myriad of plant species such as: hibiscus, citrus, coconut, avocado, carambola, grape, guava, mango, cotton, soybean, sugarcane, certain forest trees, various vegetable crops, and numerous types of ornamentals.
The PHM is easily moved on infested plants, equipment, wind or animals and appears as cottony masses on the host. Heavy infestations may result in a ‘bunchy-top’ appearance of the host and a black sooty mold may develop on the honeydew secretions from the mealybugs. Feeding may cause stunting, distortion and even plant death.
This Asian native has been found in various Caribbean countries since the 1990’s and is considered a pest of major economic importance to North America. Due to its destructive nature, detections in Northern Mexico, the California Imperial Valley and Florida have prompted public awareness efforts and integrated pest management programs with an emphasis on biological control options. Notice of new sources of potentially infested plant material is critical in keeping new introductions and spread of the PHM at bay.
Pioro, B. 2006. Mealybug invades Grand Cayman. Caymanian Compass, Cayman FreePress. 22 June, 2006. http://www.caycompass.com/cgi-bin/CFPnews.cgi?ID=1014261#commnts
Hoy, M.A., Hamon, A. and R, Nguyen. 2003. Featured Creature: Pink Hibiscus Mealybug. University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services. http://creatures.ifas.ufl.edu/orn/mealybug/mealybug.htm
PAS. 2004. Detection of the Pink Hibiscus Mealybug (Maconellicoccus hirsutus (Green)), in the municipality of Bahia de Banderas in the State of Nayarit, Mexico. NAPPO Phytosanitary Alert System News Story, 08 March, 2004. http://www.pestalert.org/viewArchNewsStory.cfm?nid=297
PAS. 2002. Pink hibiscus mealybug (PHM) in Florida (US). NAPPO Phytosanitary Alert System News Story, 20 June, 2002. http://www.pestalert.org/viewArchNewsStory.cfm?nid=193