Saccharicoccus sacchari

Saccharicoccus sacchari (Cockerell)

Taxonomic placing: Insecta, Hemimetabola, Hemiptera, Sternorrhyncha, Coccoidea, Pseudococcidae.

Common name: Sugarcane mealybug; pink sugarcane mealybug.

Geographical distribution: The pest occurs in warm regions wherever sugarcane is grown.

Host plants: Several Poaceae (Gramineae), such as sugarcane, Saccharum officinarum Linnaeus, Sorghum and Phragmites.

Morphology: The body of the female is 4-5 mm long, pink, the antennae with seven segments. There are two ostioles and the circulus is large, medially constricted (dumbbell shaped). Tubular ducts present only on the venter of the posterior segments, at the margins of which single, long setae are located. Cerarii located only on the posterior (anal) segment.

Life history: A tropical species that is more prevalent in sandy soils. Above-ground it settles under overlapping leaf sheaths just below the nodes, underground it infests the runners and shallow roots. It develops only above 17°, producing ca 200 progeny/female at 20° and >500 at 30°. At the latter temperature it produces larger and more fecund progeny, which explains its rapid population growth under warm conditions. Generation time at 20°C was 107 days, 25 days at 30°.

Economic importance: A major pest of sugar cane. Damage is due to sucking out plant sap and to the large amounts of excreted honeydew, colonized by sootymold fungi. Mealybug attacks cause reductions in plant growth, sugar content and in juice weight, and can stunt and even kill young shoots. In addition the pest may transmit plant viruses. Infestations of re-planted fields is often due to scales that had remained on the roots and stubble of the former sugarcane crop.


Sampling: Bits of sugarcane stubble are collected at random, the scales extracted by flotation methods and counted. The total number of mealybugs/sample may be estimated from the number of adults/sample.

Horticultural methods: Use of pest-free seed canes, removal of trash and stubble to avoid the carry-over of the pest into new fields and a hot (50°C) water treatment of seed cane for 3 hours.

Plant resistance: Sugarcane lines differ in their susceptibility to the pest, which is facilitating the selection of resistant varieties.

Chemical control: Organophosphates have been used, but their use is being reduced.

Biological control: Entomopathogenic fungi kill many scales in wet years. About a dozen parasitoids attack this pest, encyrtids of the genus Anagyrus being of major importance in Egypt. Anagyrus saccharicola Timberlake was introduced, released and became established in Egypt, attacking almost 50% of the scales. The Coccinellid Cryptolaemus montrouzieri Mulsant is an important predator.


Abd-Rabou, S. 2001. Parasitoids attacking mealybugs (Homoptera: Coccidea: Pseudococcidae) in Egypt. Egyptian Journal of Agricutural Research 79: 1355-1377.

Abd-Rabou, S. 2002. Efficacy of the imported parasitoid, Anagyrus saccharicola (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae) for the biological control of Saccharicoccus sacchari (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) attacking sugar cane in Egypt. Sugar Cane International, pp. 24-26.

Allsopp, P.G., Sullivan, G.T., Haysom, M.B.C. and Morgan, T.A. 1993. Relationship of edaphic factors, location and harvest date to population levels of Saccharicoccus sacchari (Cockerel) (Hemiptera, Pseudococcidae) on sugarcane. Environmental Entomology 22: 1278-1284.

De Barro, P.J. 1991. Sampling strategies for above and below ground populations of Saccharicoccus sacchari (Cockerel) (Hemiptera, Pseudococcidae) on sugarcane. Journal of the Australian Entomological Society 30: 19-20.

Lockhart, B.E.L., Autrey, L.J.C. and Comstock, J.C. 1992. Partial-putification and serology of sugarcane mild mosaic-virus, a mealybug-transmited closterolike virus. Phytopathology 82: 691-695.

El-Dein, G., Mohamed, H., Sanaa, I. and and Moharum, F.A. 2009. Effect of Saccharicoccus sacchari (Cockerell) infestation levels on sugarcane physical and chemical properties. Egyptian Academy Journal of Biological Sciences 2: 119-123.

Rae, D.J. and Death, G. 1991. Influence of constant temperature on development, survival and fecundity of sugarcane mealybug, Saccharicoccus sacchari (Cockerel) (Hemiptera, Pseudococcidae). Australian Journal of Zoology 39: 105-122.

Rajendra, A. 1974. The biology and control of Saccharicoccus saccharic Ckll. (Hom: Pseudococcidae), the pink mealy bug of sugar cane in Sri Lanka. Cheylon Journal of Science (Biological Sciences) 11: 23-28.