Damage caused by the lebbeck mealybug and the pests themselves have been found in Highland County citrus, and growers should be on high alert.

The presence of the lebbeck mealybug was detected recently in Highlands County citrus, and growers need to be on the lookout for this invasive pest. In a Citrus Industry article, Laurie Hurner, Highlands County Extension director, said “It has been misidentified as cottony cushion scale. It has been found in young trees under net and open and on established trees.” The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Division of Plant Industry issued a pest alert. See what to look out for below.

Details on the Lebbeck Mealybug

Found in many parts of the world and on several host plants, the article that the lebbeck mealybug could affect “citrus, cotton, ornamentals and tropical plants” in Florida. While another pest to deal with is the last thing Florida citrus growers need in light of citrus greening and more, they should be on the lookout for the following details from the article:

Appearance: “Approximately 4 mm long by 3 mm wide with body color black, purple to blue green with thick white or pale-yellow wax.”

Signs of infestation: “Females produce an ovisac with a wax that is sticky when touched. In high densities, waxy secretions may appear as a continuous layer of wax which will obscure individual mealybugs. Wax may turn yellow in older infestations.”

Damage caused: “Losses in citrus groves are mainly due to premature fruit drop.”

The article maintained that “Specimens do turn black in 70% alcohol. This might be a good, quick field diagnostic, but species confirmation will require slide mounting.”

Growers who believe they might have an infestation should contact their Extension agent or the FDACS:

Muhammad Z. Ahmed, Greg Hodges; Bureau of Entomology, Nematology and Plant Pathology, DPIHelpline@FreshFromFlorida.com or 1-888-397-1517

Lauren M. Diepenbrock; Citrus Research and Education Center, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, ldiepenbrock@ufl.edu or 863-956-8801

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