Maconellicoccus hirsutus

Maconellicoccus hirsutus (Green)

taxonomic position: Insecta, Hemimetabola, Hemiptera, Sternorrhyncha, Coccomorpha, Coccoidea, Psedococcidae.

Common name: Pink hibiscus mealybug, hibiscus mealybug.

Morphology: Females grey-pink, bodies 2.5-4 mm long, elongate, slightly flattened, with many long dorsal setae. It is covered by sparse white wax which extends to the ovisac. Antennae with 9 segments, body with several pairs of cerarii and oral rim ducts that are scattered all over the body except the legs. The eggs and crawlers are pink. Males have a single pair of wings, long antennae and with white posterior wax filaments.

Distribution: This scale, of South Asian origin, invaded the Americas in the 1990’s and now occurs in most tropical and subtropical regions. CABI Maps of Plant Pests, #187 (4th revision), Wallingford.

Host plants: Polyphagous, infesting over 330 species, especially those of the families Fabaceae, Malvaceae and Moraceae.

Life history: A life cycle takes 3-4 weeks. The calculated threshold of developmental is at 14.5°C and about 350°C are needed for completing a generational. A female may lay up to 500-600 eggs, depending on the host-plant. There are 12-15 annual generations in warm areas and population increase can be very rapid. In the absence of males reproduction may be by parthenogenesis. Dispersal is by walking, adhering to animals or being wind-borne as well by transferred infested plant parts.

Economic importance: Maconellicoccus hirsutus is on the Global Invasive Species Database (2017), at website This mealybug is a major pest of many commercial plants in tropical and subtropical regions, having invaded the New World in the early 1990’s. Damage is due to sucking plant constituents, injecting toxic saliva and to excreting honeydew which is colonized by sootymold. The pest prefers to feed on growing plant parts and on young stems, flowers, and fruits. Feeding on the young growth results in leaf crinkling and the premature senescence of flowers and foliage, in buds failing to develop and in shoot stunting (“bunchy top” or curly top). Fruits become contaminated by the honeydew and the sootymold and by the white wax, and may drop. Or they remain on the trees in a dried and shriveled condition, of little value. The entire plant may be stunted; very large mealybug populations can kill plants. When the pest invades without its natural enemies it can rapidly produce large, very damaging populations.


Monitoring: Looking for crinkled or twisted leaves and distorted shoots, unopened or shriveled flowers, deformed fruits, white wax and pinkish eggs, and for sootymold. Attention should also be paid to the presence of ants which are attracted by the honeydew. Sticky cards baited with the scale’s sex pheromone, which attract the males, can be used detect the pest in areas where its occurrence is not clearly evident.

Host tolerance: Some Egyptian grapevine cultivars are relatively tolerant to M. hirsutus.

Chemical control: Most pesticides are of little value against M. hirsutus due to the protecting wax that surrounds the scale. Systemics, insect growth regulators, pyrethrins and oils may be of some value in nurseries. However, pesticides should be avoided because they kill the natural enemies which usually control the pest.

Biological control: The encyrtids parasitoids Anagyrus kamali and Gyranusoidea indica Shafee often control the pest In the Middle East, often assisted by Cryptolaemus montrouziei. Other natural enemies, such as various Coccinellidae, including Scymnus spp., Neuroptera and Cecidomyiidae are active in other regions. However, biological control may be hindered by honeydew gathering ants or due to parasitoid encapsulation by the scale.


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Buckley, R. and Gullan, P. 1991. More aggressive ant species (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) provide better protection for soft scales and mealybugs (Homoptera: Coccidae, Pseudococcidae). Biotropica 23: 282-286.

Chong, J.-H., Aristizábal, L.F. and Arthurs, S.P. 2015. Biology and Management of Maconellicoccus hirsutus (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) on ornamental plants. Journal of Integrated Pest Management 6: 5.

Miller, D.R, 2001. Identification of the pink hibiscus mealybug, Maconellicoccus hirsutus (Green) (Hemiptera: Sternorrhyncha: Pseudococcidae). Insecta Mundi 13: 189-202.

Persad, A. and Khan, A. 2002. Comparison of life table parameters for Maconellicoccus hirsutus, Anagyrus kamali, Cryptolaemus montrouzieri and Scymnus coccivora. BioControl 47: 137-149.

Persad, A. and Khan, A. 2000. The effect of five insecticides on Maconellicoccus hirsutus (Green) (Homoptera: Pseudococcidae) and its natural enemies Anagyrus kamali Moursi (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae), and Cryptolaemus montrouzieri Mulsant and Scymnus coccivora Aiyar (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). International Pest Control 42: 170-173.

Roltsch, W.J., D.E. Meyerdirk, R. Warkentin, E.R. Andress, and K. Carrera. 2006. Classical biological control of the pink hibiscus mealybug, Maconellicoccus hirsutus (Green), in southern California. Biological Control 37:155-166.

Sagarra, L.A., Peterkin, D.D., Vincent, C. and Stewart, R.K. 2000. Immune response of the hibiscus mealybug, Maconellicoccus hirsutus Green (Homoptera: Pseudococcidae), to oviposition of the parasitoid Anagyrus kamali Moursi (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae). Journal of Insect Physiology 46: 647-653.

Spodek M, Watson GW, Mendel Z, 2016. The pink hibiscus mealybug, Maconellicoccus hirsutus (Green) (Hemiptera: Coccomorpha: Pseudococcidae), a new threat to Israel’s agriculture and horticulture. EPPO Bulletin 46: 311-312.

Williams, D.J. 1996. A brief account of the hibiscus mealybug Maconellicoccus hirsutus (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae), a pest of agriculture and horticulture, with descriptions of two related species from southern Asia. Bulletin of Entomological Research 86: 617-628.

Zhang, A. and Amalin, D. 2005. Sex pheromone of the female pink hibiscus mealybug, Maconellicoccus hirsutus (Green) (Homoptera: Pseudococcidae): Biological Activity Evaluation. Environmental Entomology 34: 264-270.