Subject: White bugs on heavenly bamboo
March 25, 2014 12:14 pm
These creatures are all over my heavenly bamboo, particularly on the top third of the branches. They hang out on the underside–they appear to be hanging on by legs and a mouth, but my mom thinks they are a chrysalis. The front of them is a brown or maybe an orange/black. We picked a few off thinking they were a pest before thinking maybe they’re good bugs–what are they? It’s an unseasonably warm/dry spring in Sacramento, CA.
You have an infestation of Cottony Cushion Scale, a pest species from Australia that has become established in North America where it is a significant crop pest. According to BugGuide: “The white fluted part of the insect is an egg sac that can contain up to 1000 eggs. The insect is hermaphroditic, producing sperm that can fertilize its own ova, but in an alternate reproductive strategy it can also make winged males that can fertilize the female part of other individuals.
When it first appeared in the w. US it was a major pest of Citrus crops. In CA, around 1889, it was an early success story for biological control by beneficial ladybird beetles (Rodolia cardinalis). (Full story) The control was so successful that in 1893 a Florida nurseryman asked for some of the beneficials to be sent to FL, to test as a control for other scale insects. The scale was included in the shipment as food for the beetles, and thus accidentally introduced to FL citrus.
Thank you so much! 1000 eggs! Really? Eeek–I’m not a “bug man”–my skin is crawling. I appreciate the info.