Eastern Forest Threat Center - Pink Hibiscus Mealybug

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Pink hibiscus mealybug

Pink hibiscus mealybug

Jeffrey Lotz, Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Bugwood.org

Pink Hibiscus Mealybug
Maconellicoccus hirsutus

The pink hibiscus mealybug (PHM) occurs in most tropical areas of the world, including Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, and Oceania. It is a pest of many plants, trees, and shrubs.

Keywords: Hemiptera, PHM, parthenogenesis, white wax, toxic saliva, malformed leaves and shoots, stunting; Common names: grape mealybug, grapevine mealybug

Distribution Map Distribution Source Image

Threat Description

Adult PHMs are about 1/8 in. long. Females are pink and wingless, and their bodies have a white, waxy covering. Males have a pair of wings and two long waxy tails and are capable of flight. Reproduction may occur by means of parthenogenesis in the absence of the male. The mature female lays eggs in an eggsack of white wax, usually in clusters on the twigs, branches, or bark of the host plant but sometimes on the plant’s leaves and terminal ends. Egg development takes between 3 and 9 days. In its egg stage, PHM disperses most easily by wind. The wax, which sticks to each egg, also facilitates passive transport by animals or people. Eggs hatch into nymphs called crawlers which are very mobile. They may disperse over the host, especially toward tender growing parts, or be carried away by wind, people, or animals. As it feeds, PHM injects a toxic saliva into the plant that results in malformed leaf and shoot growth, stunting, and, occasionally, death. If left undisturbed, colonies will grow into large masses of white, waxy deposits on branches, fruiting structures, leaves, and even whole plants, including large trees.