Of the many species that may occur on greenhouse floral crops, probably the most common one is the citrus mealybug. Mealybugs injure plants by sucking juices from tender foliage and roots of many greenhouse crops. Heavy infestations result in stunted and distorted new growth. Additionally, like many other insects, honeydew is excreted which gives rise to black sooty mold.
The life cycle of most species is similar with females laying 300 to 600 eggs in compact waxy sacs attached to axils of stems or leaves. After egg laying, females die and the eggs hatch in 7 to 10 days into tiny yellowish crawlers (nymphs). The long-tailed mealybug is slightly different in that females give birth to living young. The complete life cycle can take six weeks to two months depending on the species and the environmental conditions. Breeding and development, however, is year-round in the greenhouse.
Mealybugs are soft-bodied insects that are about 1/8-inch in length. They have a white powdery substance over their bodies and white, waxy filaments projecting from the rear of their bodies. They are unarmored but have a rubbery outer coating that cannot be detached. They may be flat, oval, or globular, and some secrete wax.
Please contact your local county extension office for current information.