Dysmicoccus brevipes (Cockerell)
(Synonym: Pseudococcus bromeliae (Bouché)).
Common name: Pineapple mealybug.
Host plants: Several hundred plant species.
Geographical distribution: This pest is wide spread in the tropical, humid regions of the world; in the Middle East it occurs in Egypt, Israel and Lebanon. CIE Map #50, 1972 (revised).
Morphology: A pinkish mealybug covered by white wax flakes. The adult female is up to 3 mm long and bears short legs whose claws are devoid of teeth. Antennae eight-segmented, dorsum with 17 pairs of cerarii, slender setae, two pairs of ostioles and without any tubular ducts. Circulus present.
Life history: The mealybug lives on roots throughout the year, but in late summer it moves up pineapple plants to infest leaves and the ripening fruit. It usually inhabits the bases of plants, the lower portions of stems and the exposed roots of grasses and herbaceous plants, and the lower stalks of sugar cane. It is usually attended by honeydew-gathering ants, which protect the colonies from natural enemies and spread the pest by carrying it around. This mealybug has both sexual and nonsexual populations in different parts of the world. It is oviparous and the females, which live for 7-10 weeks, can give birth to about 1000 crawlers that are the main means of dispersal.
Economic importance: This mealybug is a serious pest of pineapple in many warm and humid regions. Feeding results in yellow spotting on the undersides of leaves, which may drop prematurely, dieback of stems and wilting, along with reduced vigor and general debility of the host plant. Large pest populations may cause fruit rotting and leaking. Additional damage is due to contaminating infested fruits with honeydew and the resultant sooty mold; such fruits are not marketable. The mealybug also transmits the pineapple (or mealybug) wilt disease, which causes much damage, and a virus disease to cocoa. On coffee, the pest infests the roots and may cause stunting and weakening. On date palms it may infest and sometimes cause total loss of bunches.
Horticultural methods: Infested fields should be turned over after harvest and all crop residues removed and burned. Field borders are to be kept clean of weeds and any debris that can support the mealybugs between plantings. Placing oil-coated fences around fields hinders the ants provided the fences are well maintained.
Chemical control: Effective pest control can be achieved on pineapples by eliminating the associated ants. Organophosphates were applied as soil treatments in pineapple plantations. Good results were obtained with a potassium salt liquid soap and a botanical extract of several plants. Field margins and adjacent infested old fields or uncultivated areas should also be treated.
Biological control: Many natural enemies of this mealybug are known from different parts of the world. Those of special interest include the parasitoid Anagyrus ananatis Gahan (Encyrtidae), and the predator Nephus bilucernarius Mulsant (Coccinellidae). The natural enemies however cannot control the mealybugs in the presence of ants. Good pest control was obtained with commercial products of the entomopathogenic fungi Beauveria bassiana (Bals.-Criv.) Vuill. and Metarhizium anisopliae (Metchnikoff) Sorokin.
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