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Mealy Bug

A leaf with mealy bug damage

Found in warmer growing climates, mealy bugs are soft-bodied, wingless insects that often appear as white cottony masses on the leaves, stems and fruit of plants. They feed by inserting long sucking mouthparts, called stylets, into plants and drawing sap out of the tissue. Damage is not often significant at low pest levels. However, at higher numbers they can cause leaf yellowing and curling as the plant weakens. Feeding is usually accompanied by honeydew, which makes the plant sticky and encourages the growth of sooty moulds. Mealy bugs are a common greenhouse pest that affects ornamentals, houseplants, avocados and fruits.

Adults (1/10 — 1/4 inch long) are soft, oval distinctly segmented insects that are usually covered with a white or gray mealy wax. Small nymphs, called crawlers, are light yellow and free of wax. They are active early on, but move little once a suitable feeding site is found.

Note: There are approximately 275 species of mealy bugs known to occur throughout the United States.