Where Do Mealy Bugs Come From? Uncovering Their Mysterious Origins

Mealybugs are a common pest that can cause considerable damage to your plants if left uncontrolled. They are small, soft-bodied insects that are typically covered in a white, waxy substance, making them easily identifiable on the plants they infest. Understanding where mealybugs come from and how they spread is essential in preventing and managing infestations.

These tiny pests originate from warm, humid environments, where they thrive. They can be introduced to your plants through various means, such as infested plant material, tools, or even hitching a ride on your clothing. Once they establish themselves on a plant, mealybugs can reproduce quickly and spread to other plants close by.

In order to effectively deal with mealybugs, it’s important to monitor your plants regularly for signs of their presence. Early detection can make the difference in protecting your plants from these destructive pests. By being aware of where mealybugs come from and taking necessary precautions, you can ensure your plants stay healthy and pest-free.

What Are Mealybugs

Mealybugs are small, oval-shaped insects that are considered pests for many plants. These pests are wingless and soft-bodied, typically measuring between 1/20 to 1/5 inch long. What makes them easily recognizable is their cottony or fuzzy appearance, which is due to the whitish, mealy wax that covers their bodies.

These insects belong to the Pseudococcidae family and come in various species, each of them with slightly different features. Some of the common species you might encounter include the citrus mealybug, the Mexican mealybug, and the long-tailed mealybug. They can infest different parts of a plant, including leaves, stems, and even the roots.

When it comes to identifying mealybugs, a few characteristics stand out. Here are some key features:

  • Wingless and soft-bodied
  • Cottony or fuzzy appearance
  • White, mealy wax covering
  • Range in size from 1/20 to 1/5 inch long
  • Oval in shape
  • Can infest various parts of plants

As garden pests, mealybugs can cause significant damage to plants by sucking sap and injecting toxins, which can hinder plant growth and, in severe cases, even kill the plants. In addition, they produce a substance called honeydew that can lead to the growth of sooty mold, further affecting your plant’s health.

Now that you know what mealybugs are, you can better recognize them and take prompt action to protect your plants and garden from these pesky insects.

Origins Of Mealybugs

Mealybugs are small, oval insects that typically infest plants, both indoors and outdoors. They can be found in various environments such as soil, greenhouses, and on new plants. These pests are known to target crops, ornamental plants, and even specific species like African violets and citrus trees.

Mealybugs can be introduced to your plants in different ways. When planting outdoors, contaminated soil may harbor mealybugs that eventually infest your plants. In greenhouses, they may hitch a ride on new plants or plant materials, making their way to host plants in the controlled environment.

Host plants are particularly attractive to mealybugs because they provide an excellent source of nourishment. Some common host plants include citrus trees and African violets. Mealybugs often infest these susceptible plants, feeding on their sap and causing damage.

There are numerous species of mealybugs, such as the Citrus mealybug (Planococcus citri) which infests citrus trees, and the Pineapple mealybug (Pseudococcus longispinus) that targets pineapple plants. To help you differentiate between these species, here is a comparison table:

Mealybug Species Primary Host Plants
Citrus Mealybug Citrus trees
Pineapple Mealybug Pineapple plants

Keep in mind that mealybugs may also infest other types of plants in addition to their primary hosts.

By understanding the origins and preferred host plants of mealybugs, you can take preventative measures and protect your plants from these damaging pests.

Life Cycle Of Mealybugs

Mealybugs are small, soft-bodied insects that infest various plants. Understanding their life cycle can help you detect and manage their presence in your garden or home.

Female mealybugs lay their eggs in a white waxy sac, often in leaf axils. They can deposit up to 300 or more yellowish or orange eggs. These eggs hatch into tiny nymphs, which are the immature stage of the mealybug. At this point, they start moving on the plant, searching for a place to feed.

As the nymphs grow, they pass through several instar stages. They feed on plant sap and develop a waxy coating that protects them. Both male and female nymphs undergo these developments, but their paths diverge when they reach the adult stage.

Adult females are wingless, retaining their soft body and waxy coating throughout their life. They continue to feed on plants, reproducing and laying more eggs.

On the other hand, male mealybugs go through a more significant transformation. They develop wings and turn into small flying insects. Male adults don’t feed but focus on finding a female mate. After mating, both males and females die, completing the mealybug life cycle.

Keep an eye on your plants and pay attention to signs of infestation, such as waxy sacs or cottony residue. By understanding the life cycle of mealybugs, you can take the right steps to protect your plants and minimize their damage.

Physical Characteristics Of Mealybugs

Mealybugs are tiny insects that can be a real nuisance when they infest your plants. Let’s dive into their physical characteristics to learn more about them.

These pests come in various shades, ranging from tan, yellow, to slightly pink. They are minuscule creatures that may be hard to spot at first. You may initially notice them as tiny white bugs nestled among your plants.

A distinguishing feature of mealybugs is their powdery, waxy coating. This substance provides them with protection and helps them retain moisture. Their bodies measure about 1/20 to 1/5 inch long, making them difficult to spot unless you look closely at your plants.

Although they lack wings, some mealybug species can move slowly. These insects also have wax filaments radiating from their bodies, particularly at their tails. These filaments are an additional detail to watch out for when identifying mealybugs on your plants.

The following bullet points summarize the physical characteristics of mealybugs:

  • Colors: tan, yellow, pink
  • Size: 1/20 to 1/5 inch long
  • Appearance: tiny white bugs, powdery substance, wax filaments

With this new understanding of mealybugs’ physical characteristics, keep an eye on your plants. Spotting these tiny white bugs early can help you control and prevent a massive infestation before it starts.

How Mealybugs Damage Plants

Mealybugs are tiny insects that can cause significant harm to your plants. They feed on plant sap, which can lead to a variety of issues.

When mealybugs attack the roots of your plants, they hinder the plant’s ability to absorb water and nutrients. This can cause the roots to weaken and wilt, making it harder for healthy plants to thrive. For example, plants with mealybug infestations might experience stunted growth and yellowing leaves.

Apart from roots, mealybugs also cause damage by feeding on the stems and leaves of your plants. This can lead to visible signs of stress, such as distorted and discolored leaves.

The damage doesn’t stop there; these pests excrete a sticky substance called honeydew after feeding on plant sap. Honeydew attracts sooty mold, which can further harm your plants by blocking sunlight and inhibiting photosynthesis.

To sum up, mealybugs can wreak havoc on your plants by:

  • Feeding on sap from roots, stems, and leaves
  • Weakening and wilting plant roots
  • Causing stunted growth and discolored leaves
  • Producing honeydew that attracts sooty mold

It’s essential to keep an eye out for these pests and take action to protect your plants from mealybug infestations.

Mealybugs And Other Insects

Mealybugs are soft-bodied, wax-covered insects that can wreak havoc on your plants. They’re related to scale insects, aphids, and gnats, but have some unique characteristics. In this section, we’ll discuss how these insects interact with each other and the predators you might find around them, such as lacewings, ladybugs, and mealybug destroyers.

Mealybugs are part of a larger insect family known as Hemiptera, which also includes their close relatives: scale insects, aphids, and gnats. These pests share some common traits, such as their ability to feed on plant sap and excrete honeydew, a sticky substance that attracts ants and promotes the growth of sooty mold.

The presence of ants can often indicate a mealybug infestation, as they’re attracted to the honeydew produced by these pests. In fact, ants may protect mealybugs from their natural predators in order to maintain their honeydew supply. This symbiotic relationship can make controlling a mealybug infestation even more challenging.

There are several predators that can help keep mealybug populations in check, including:

  • Lacewings: These delicate insects are voracious predators of mealybugs, aphids, and other pests.
  • Ladybugs: Known for their striking red and black coloring, ladybugs consume a variety of pests, including mealybugs.
  • Mealybug Destroyer: As the name suggests, this small beetle is a specialist in feeding on mealybugs and is particularly effective in controlling their populations.

By introducing these predators to your garden, you can create a more balanced ecosystem and reduce the need for chemical interventions. However, it’s important to monitor pest levels to ensure the balance is maintained.

In summary, mealybugs are related to other insects like scale insects, aphids, and gnats, and they can form relationships with ants to protect themselves from predators. On the other hand, releasing beneficial insects such as lacewings, ladybugs, and mealybug destroyers into your garden can provide effective natural control against these pests.

Signs Of Mealybug Infestation

Mealybugs can be a real problem for your plants, causing damage to their growth and appearance. Look out for these signs to identify a mealybug infestation:

  • Cotton-like masses: You might spot white, cotton-like filaments secreted by mealybugs, which are used as a protective barrier for their colonies while feeding on your plant’s sap.

  • Honeydew: As mealybugs feed on your plants, they produce a sticky substance called honeydew. This can attract ants and cause the growth of sooty mold, a black fungus that covers your plant’s leaves.

Here’s a brief summary of the main signs of mealybug infestation:

Sign Description
Cotton-like masses White, cotton-like filaments secreted by mealybugs
Honeydew Sticky substance causing sooty mold growth and ant attraction

If you notice these signs:

  1. Inspect your plants carefully for small, oval-shaped insects covered in a powdery wax.
  2. Check the undersides of leaves, on stems, and in the flowers, as this is where they tend to gather.

To manage an infestation, you can:

  • Use rubbing alcohol to remove the mealybugs from your plants. Dab a cotton swab or soft cloth with alcohol and gently rub over the insects.
  • Keep an eye on wilting, as severe infestations can cause your plants to wilt and eventually die.
  • Remove heavily-infested plants to prevent the spread of mealybugs to healthy plants.

Remember, early detection and management of mealybug infestations can save your plants and keep your garden looking great.

How To Treat And Prevent Mealybug Infestations

Getting rid of mealybugs can be a challenging task, but by using a combination of treatments, you can effectively control these pests. Start by physically removing the bugs from your plants with a cotton swab or a soft brush. For a more targeted approach, dab a cotton swab in isopropyl alcohol (70% or less solution) and gently touch the mealybugs to kill them. Test this solution on a small part of the plant before applying it to the entire plant to avoid any potential damage.

Using insecticidal soap or neem oil can also help eliminate mealybugs. These treatments are friendly to beneficial insects while effectively targeting the pests. Apply the insecticidal soap or neem oil spray according to the instructions on the label, focusing on areas with visible mealybug infestations. Regularly monitor your plants and repeat treatments as necessary.

In some cases, especially for heavy infestations or persistent problems, you may need to consider using systemic insecticides. These products are absorbed by the plant and can offer long-lasting protection against mealybugs. However, be cautious with their use, as they can also harm beneficial insects.

To prevent future mealybug infestations, consider the following strategies:

  • Inspect new plants thoroughly before bringing them indoors or placing them near existing plants.
  • Practice good hygiene by regularly cleaning up plant debris and keeping a tidy garden.
  • Encourage beneficial insects, such as ladybugs and lacewings, as they can help control mealybug populations.

In summary, various treatments like isopropyl alcohol, insecticidal soap, or neem oil can effectively get rid of mealybugs. Implementing preventive measures and monitoring your plants can help avoid future infestations and maintain healthy plants.

Mealybugs And Indoor Plants

Mealybugs are a common pest that can infest your indoor plants. They thrive in warm environments and can be found on leaves, roots, and even your fresh produce.

These tiny, wingless insects feed on the sap of your houseplants, harming the foliage and overall health of your plants. The damage they cause can result in yellowing leaves, stunting, dieback, or even death of your plants 1. Here are some of the key features of mealybugs:

  • Tiny, wingless insects
  • White, cottony appearance
  • Feed on sap of indoor plants
  • Harm plants by causing yellowing leaves, stunting, and dieback

Controlling mealybugs can be challenging, but there are several treatment options you can try. One approach is to gently wash your plants using a diluted dish detergent and water solution. Use a cloth or a brush to remove both the mealybugs and the honeydew they produce from the leaves and stems 2. Additionally:

  • Inspect and quarantine new plants before introducing them to your collection
  • Keep a close eye on your indoor plants, checking for any signs of mealybugs regularly
  • Maintain good hygiene and proper watering practices to keep your plants healthy and less susceptible to pests

Mealybugs lay their egg sacs in concealed locations, making them difficult to spot. While treating and controlling mealybugs can be challenging, it’s essential for the health of your indoor plants. By maintaining good plant care habits and regularly inspecting your plants, you can minimize the risk of an infestation and enjoy healthy, pest-free houseplants.

Footnotes

  1. https://extension.umd.edu/resource/mealybugs-indoor-plants

  2. https://extension.unh.edu/blog/2020/12/how-do-you-get-rid-mealybugs-houseplants

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Snow Ball Large Mealybug found in sand in Australia

 

Subject: Bug in playground sandpit
Location: Gold Coast, Australia
November 12, 2012 11:15 pm
Hello
My daughter and I found this bug in the sand at our local playground (Gold Coast, Australia).
Do you know what it is?
Thank you
Signature: Bruce & Brooke

Snow Ball Large Mealybug

Dear Bruce & Brooke,
This really is an unusual insect.  It sure looks primitive and perhaps it is larval.  We will post it as unidentified and try to do additional research.  Perhaps one of our readers will have a clue as to its identity.

Snow Ball Large Mealy Bug

Update:  November 13, 2012
Thanks to a comment from fiferworks, we now know that this is a Snow Ball Large Mealybug,
Monophlebulus sp., which can be found on the Brisbane Insect Website.  It seems this individual has lost its white cottony coating.  We verified the identification using the Encyclopedia of Life.

Karl supplies a thorough comment.
Hi Daniel, Bruce & Brooke:
Sorry about all the links in this one Daniel, but if all goes well I may be able to help clear up several mysteries, new and old.  I believe this is a Giant Mealybug (a.k.a. Giant Coccid or Ground Pearl) in the family Margorodidae. The genus is probably Monophlebulus and the common name appears to be Snow Ball Giant Mealy Bug or Snow Ball Large Mealybug. I was fairly certain that it had appeared on your site before but it took a while to find it as it had been identified tentatively as a ‘Giant Scale Insect’ (family not given) by Eric Eaton. Margorodids, along with true Scale Insects (Coccidae) and several other similar families all belong to the same Superfamily (Coccoidea) so I suppose they are all Scale Insects of a sort, but it does get a little confusing. It was posted by Kimberly and it appears to be the same as this recent posting. In the response to Kimberly’s post you linked to a previous and similar submission by Ridou Ridou, also tentatively identified as a Giant Scale Insect due to its similarity to Kimberly’s bug. I think this one was a different species of Giant Mealybug in the same genus, Monophlebulus. In one of the comments attached to Ridou Ridou’s post, rhoz identified the family Margorodidae and the genus Monophlebulus, although he spelled it slightly differently and seems to be referring to a bug that sounds more similar to the ones posted by Kimberly and Bruce & Brooke. These bugs are quite mobile as evidenced by this wonderful video I came across. One site that I checked out indicated that males of the genus have wings and can fly, in which case these may be all females. I hope this isn’t too confusing. Regards.  Karl

That’s wonderful, thank you Daniel.
What a great experience!  Within hours of finding a bug and having no idea what it was, we have an answer.   We are very fortunate to have the luxury of the internet and the valuable participation of websites like yours.
We’re now keen to get out there and find more bugs!
Keep up the good work and thanks again.
Bruce and Brooke

 

Letter 2 – Unknown Spanish Insect may be Mealybug

 

Strange small bug
Location: Girona, Spain
April 27, 2011 7:05 am
Hi,
I found this bug in my garden.
I have never seen anything like it before, could you let me know what it is & if it’s poisonous?
Signature: Alix

Unknown Insect from Spain

Hi Alix,
We just returned from a holiday and despite our posting a notice that we would not be responding to emails, we are positively swamped with identification requests.  We decided to look at the most recent requests and found yours, and this one is a bit of a puzzle for us.  We have confessed on numerous occasions that we do not have a background in entomology, and we need to use the internet for much of our research.  Judging by the antennae, this sure appears to be a beetle, but we are not sure if it is larval since it doesn’t have wings, or if it is a wingless adult, or if it is something else entirely.  Alas, we are also quite busy with our day job and we haven’t the time to research this, but we want to post it in the hopes that one of our readers with more knowledge can provide a comment.  We also wrote to our longtime contributor Eric Eaton to see if he can email us an answer.

Unknown Insect from Spain

Eric Eaton Responds
Daniel:
… The bug in the images is probably some kind of mealybug-type thing that has lost much of its usual waxy coating.  Pretty big for a scale insect, but I don’t think it can be anything else.  Try looking up Pseudococcidae for Spain and see what turns up.  …
Eric

Letter 3 – Mealybug from Costa Rica

 

Subject:  Little white bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Cartago, Costa Rica
Date: 01/15/2019
Time: 11:27 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Its a little white spiky bug, with only 3mm long.  I found it under my tree palm at the front garden.
How you want your letter signed:  jotace photo

Mealybug

Dear jotace photo,
This sure looks to us like a Mealybug or some other plant-parasitic Hemipteran in the suborder Sternorrhyncha, and here is a BugGuide image that is quite similar.

Letter 4 – Mealybug in South Africa

 

Subject:  White enigma
Geographic location of the bug:  Johannesburg, South Africa
Date: 12/24/2018
Time: 11:16 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi WTB
Please tell me what big this is. Found on my orchid in big groups. They’re quote small and seem hairy.
How you want your letter signed:  Simone

Mealybug

Dear Simone,
This looks like a Mealybug to us, a common pest on houseplants as well as cultivated plants in the garden.  Mealybugs feed by sucking fluids from plants, and if infestations are in large numbers, their feeding could conceivably weaken the plant.

Thank you so much, Daniel 🙂
So interesting to finally know what they are.
Merry Christmas/ Happy holidays
Simone
You are most welcome Simone, and Happy Holidays to you as well.

Letter 5 – Mealybug on House Plant in UK

 

Jade plant/ Money Tree little red bugs
Location: London UK
December 14, 2010 7:22 am
Hi there
Recently I’ve been finding a number of little red bugs on my Money tree. They seem to co exist along with a white silky substance that is leaft in small blobs or long blobs on the plant, generally in the V junctions of the leaves. The bugs initially look white but on closer inspection are a light red, with a white fur. They seem to walk around individually, not in groups. I don’t know if they are mites, baby or adults, although they do vary in size from about a 10th of a mm to 2mm or more not including their long tail that consists of 2 long white hairs. I’m not sure if they continue growing into something else… They have 6 legs, 2 antenna, and that tail, as you can see from the images. I put the bug in my scanner and scanned at 9600 dpi, I really hope this helps as I can’t find any similar images on the web and would love my tree to survive. Thank you very much. Phil
Signature: n/a

Mealybug

Dear n/a,
Your plants have Mealybugs.  Mealybugs often infest house plants.  You should be able to find eradication information online now that you know their identity.

Letter 6 – Possibly Mealybug from Philippines

 

Subject: Unknown Species
Location: Manila, Philippines
January 14, 2017 7:14 pm
Hello i just want to ask what kind of species is this. I just need it for my project in ecology and i hope you answer this question immediately. thank you and god bless
Signature: ecology

Possibly Mealybug

Dear ecology,
This may be the first time we have received an identification request from an entire scientific discipline as opposed to a request from an individual.  This appears to us like it might be a Hemipteran because of its similarity to the Giant Snowball Mealybug from Australia.  Based on Project Noah, Giant Scale Insects from the genus
Monophlebulus are found in the Philippines.  Your image is not distinct enough to be certain.

Letter 7 – Snowball Large Mealybug

 

Subject: Giant snowball mealy bug
Location: Mount Cotton Qld 4165
October 31, 2015 7:08 pm
Just read something about mealy bug on this site and thought I’d share a different coloured one I found on my Leptospermum
Signature: Glen Beard

Snowball Large Mealybug
Snowball Large Mealybug

Dear Glen,
Thanks so much for providing a new image of the Snowball Large Mealybug in the genus
Monophlebulus.  It surely is much larger and more colorful than the Mealybugs we have in North America, which is why we were stumped the first time we received a submission.

Letter 8 – Snowball Large Mealybug from Australia

 

Subject: Bug
Location: Caboolture
November 18, 2016 5:47 am
A friend found this on a plant stalk and wondered what it is..
Signature: Admiral.

Giant Scale Insect
Snowball Large Mealybug

Dear Admiral,
This is a Snowball Large Mealybug in the genus
Monophlebulus.  We have received several submissions through the years.

Giant Scale Insect
Snowball Large Mealybug

Letter 9 – Snowball Large Mealybug from Australia

 

Subject:  What’s this bug?
Geographic location of the bug:  Lower North Shore, Sydney, NSW
Date: 09/21/2021
Time: 09:35 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi,
My son found this bug and would love to know what it is!
Thanks
How you want your letter signed:  Stephanie

Snowball Large Mealybug

Dear Stephanie,
This is a Snowball Large Mealybug.  You may enjoy this posting from Live Journal.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Snow Ball Large Mealybug found in sand in Australia

 

Subject: Bug in playground sandpit
Location: Gold Coast, Australia
November 12, 2012 11:15 pm
Hello
My daughter and I found this bug in the sand at our local playground (Gold Coast, Australia).
Do you know what it is?
Thank you
Signature: Bruce & Brooke

Snow Ball Large Mealybug

Dear Bruce & Brooke,
This really is an unusual insect.  It sure looks primitive and perhaps it is larval.  We will post it as unidentified and try to do additional research.  Perhaps one of our readers will have a clue as to its identity.

Snow Ball Large Mealy Bug

Update:  November 13, 2012
Thanks to a comment from fiferworks, we now know that this is a Snow Ball Large Mealybug,
Monophlebulus sp., which can be found on the Brisbane Insect Website.  It seems this individual has lost its white cottony coating.  We verified the identification using the Encyclopedia of Life.

Karl supplies a thorough comment.
Hi Daniel, Bruce & Brooke:
Sorry about all the links in this one Daniel, but if all goes well I may be able to help clear up several mysteries, new and old.  I believe this is a Giant Mealybug (a.k.a. Giant Coccid or Ground Pearl) in the family Margorodidae. The genus is probably Monophlebulus and the common name appears to be Snow Ball Giant Mealy Bug or Snow Ball Large Mealybug. I was fairly certain that it had appeared on your site before but it took a while to find it as it had been identified tentatively as a ‘Giant Scale Insect’ (family not given) by Eric Eaton. Margorodids, along with true Scale Insects (Coccidae) and several other similar families all belong to the same Superfamily (Coccoidea) so I suppose they are all Scale Insects of a sort, but it does get a little confusing. It was posted by Kimberly and it appears to be the same as this recent posting. In the response to Kimberly’s post you linked to a previous and similar submission by Ridou Ridou, also tentatively identified as a Giant Scale Insect due to its similarity to Kimberly’s bug. I think this one was a different species of Giant Mealybug in the same genus, Monophlebulus. In one of the comments attached to Ridou Ridou’s post, rhoz identified the family Margorodidae and the genus Monophlebulus, although he spelled it slightly differently and seems to be referring to a bug that sounds more similar to the ones posted by Kimberly and Bruce & Brooke. These bugs are quite mobile as evidenced by this wonderful video I came across. One site that I checked out indicated that males of the genus have wings and can fly, in which case these may be all females. I hope this isn’t too confusing. Regards.  Karl

That’s wonderful, thank you Daniel.
What a great experience!  Within hours of finding a bug and having no idea what it was, we have an answer.   We are very fortunate to have the luxury of the internet and the valuable participation of websites like yours.
We’re now keen to get out there and find more bugs!
Keep up the good work and thanks again.
Bruce and Brooke

 

Letter 2 – Unknown Spanish Insect may be Mealybug

 

Strange small bug
Location: Girona, Spain
April 27, 2011 7:05 am
Hi,
I found this bug in my garden.
I have never seen anything like it before, could you let me know what it is & if it’s poisonous?
Signature: Alix

Unknown Insect from Spain

Hi Alix,
We just returned from a holiday and despite our posting a notice that we would not be responding to emails, we are positively swamped with identification requests.  We decided to look at the most recent requests and found yours, and this one is a bit of a puzzle for us.  We have confessed on numerous occasions that we do not have a background in entomology, and we need to use the internet for much of our research.  Judging by the antennae, this sure appears to be a beetle, but we are not sure if it is larval since it doesn’t have wings, or if it is a wingless adult, or if it is something else entirely.  Alas, we are also quite busy with our day job and we haven’t the time to research this, but we want to post it in the hopes that one of our readers with more knowledge can provide a comment.  We also wrote to our longtime contributor Eric Eaton to see if he can email us an answer.

Unknown Insect from Spain

Eric Eaton Responds
Daniel:
… The bug in the images is probably some kind of mealybug-type thing that has lost much of its usual waxy coating.  Pretty big for a scale insect, but I don’t think it can be anything else.  Try looking up Pseudococcidae for Spain and see what turns up.  …
Eric

Letter 3 – Mealybug from Costa Rica

 

Subject:  Little white bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Cartago, Costa Rica
Date: 01/15/2019
Time: 11:27 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Its a little white spiky bug, with only 3mm long.  I found it under my tree palm at the front garden.
How you want your letter signed:  jotace photo

Mealybug

Dear jotace photo,
This sure looks to us like a Mealybug or some other plant-parasitic Hemipteran in the suborder Sternorrhyncha, and here is a BugGuide image that is quite similar.

Letter 4 – Mealybug in South Africa

 

Subject:  White enigma
Geographic location of the bug:  Johannesburg, South Africa
Date: 12/24/2018
Time: 11:16 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi WTB
Please tell me what big this is. Found on my orchid in big groups. They’re quote small and seem hairy.
How you want your letter signed:  Simone

Mealybug

Dear Simone,
This looks like a Mealybug to us, a common pest on houseplants as well as cultivated plants in the garden.  Mealybugs feed by sucking fluids from plants, and if infestations are in large numbers, their feeding could conceivably weaken the plant.

Thank you so much, Daniel 🙂
So interesting to finally know what they are.
Merry Christmas/ Happy holidays
Simone
You are most welcome Simone, and Happy Holidays to you as well.

Letter 5 – Mealybug on House Plant in UK

 

Jade plant/ Money Tree little red bugs
Location: London UK
December 14, 2010 7:22 am
Hi there
Recently I’ve been finding a number of little red bugs on my Money tree. They seem to co exist along with a white silky substance that is leaft in small blobs or long blobs on the plant, generally in the V junctions of the leaves. The bugs initially look white but on closer inspection are a light red, with a white fur. They seem to walk around individually, not in groups. I don’t know if they are mites, baby or adults, although they do vary in size from about a 10th of a mm to 2mm or more not including their long tail that consists of 2 long white hairs. I’m not sure if they continue growing into something else… They have 6 legs, 2 antenna, and that tail, as you can see from the images. I put the bug in my scanner and scanned at 9600 dpi, I really hope this helps as I can’t find any similar images on the web and would love my tree to survive. Thank you very much. Phil
Signature: n/a

Mealybug

Dear n/a,
Your plants have Mealybugs.  Mealybugs often infest house plants.  You should be able to find eradication information online now that you know their identity.

Letter 6 – Possibly Mealybug from Philippines

 

Subject: Unknown Species
Location: Manila, Philippines
January 14, 2017 7:14 pm
Hello i just want to ask what kind of species is this. I just need it for my project in ecology and i hope you answer this question immediately. thank you and god bless
Signature: ecology

Possibly Mealybug

Dear ecology,
This may be the first time we have received an identification request from an entire scientific discipline as opposed to a request from an individual.  This appears to us like it might be a Hemipteran because of its similarity to the Giant Snowball Mealybug from Australia.  Based on Project Noah, Giant Scale Insects from the genus
Monophlebulus are found in the Philippines.  Your image is not distinct enough to be certain.

Letter 7 – Snowball Large Mealybug

 

Subject: Giant snowball mealy bug
Location: Mount Cotton Qld 4165
October 31, 2015 7:08 pm
Just read something about mealy bug on this site and thought I’d share a different coloured one I found on my Leptospermum
Signature: Glen Beard

Snowball Large Mealybug
Snowball Large Mealybug

Dear Glen,
Thanks so much for providing a new image of the Snowball Large Mealybug in the genus
Monophlebulus.  It surely is much larger and more colorful than the Mealybugs we have in North America, which is why we were stumped the first time we received a submission.

Letter 8 – Snowball Large Mealybug from Australia

 

Subject: Bug
Location: Caboolture
November 18, 2016 5:47 am
A friend found this on a plant stalk and wondered what it is..
Signature: Admiral.

Giant Scale Insect
Snowball Large Mealybug

Dear Admiral,
This is a Snowball Large Mealybug in the genus
Monophlebulus.  We have received several submissions through the years.

Giant Scale Insect
Snowball Large Mealybug

Letter 9 – Snowball Large Mealybug from Australia

 

Subject:  What’s this bug?
Geographic location of the bug:  Lower North Shore, Sydney, NSW
Date: 09/21/2021
Time: 09:35 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi,
My son found this bug and would love to know what it is!
Thanks
How you want your letter signed:  Stephanie

Snowball Large Mealybug

Dear Stephanie,
This is a Snowball Large Mealybug.  You may enjoy this posting from Live Journal.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

5 thoughts on “Where Do Mealy Bugs Come From? Uncovering Their Mysterious Origins”

  1. Pseudococcus longispinus – suppose to – but if we have a slide mounted specimen it will be much more easy to identify. 😛

    Reply
    • Thanks kingha,
      Our good friend and retired entomologist from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County has the motto that the only true sighting is “Dead and Spread” and that pains naturalist Clare Marter Kenyon who would much rather see butterflies and other insects alive.

      Reply

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