Worldwide distribution. On fruit trees, vegetables, root crops, ornamentals, weeds. An important papaya mealybug.
Damage: (i) thick layers of mealybugs and white wax on fruit and leaves causing yellowing, stunting, fruit drop; (ii) sooty moulds grow on honeydew, covering leaves, and staining fruit.
Eggs laid into egg sac underneath female; produce 'crawlers' (nymphs); these moult developing into females, up to 2.2 mm long, with yellow bodies, covered in white wax, fringed with waxy threads. Males, short-lived, fly-like insects with wings.
Spread by crawlers walking, or carried by wind, vehicles, animals, birds, on clothes, and the trade in plants.
Natural enemies: ladybird beetles, wasp parasitoids (e.g., Acerophagus papayae).
Cultural control: for ants: boiling water; prune low branches and remove weeds (to stop ants).
Chemical control: use soap, horticultural or white oils (see Fact Sheet no. 56); avoid malathion and synthetic pyrethroids - they will kill natural enemies. Only use pyrethroids to kill ants.