This tool is part of the Citrus Resource

Citrus Pests


Coffee mealybug


Scientific name


Planococcus lilacinus (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae)

Other common names


oriental cacao mealybug, lilac mealybug

Similar species


citrus mealybug, Planococcus citri

passionvine mealybug, Planococcus minor. Passionvine mealybug also has the common name of coffee mealybug but has not been reported as a pest of citrus.



United States: Not known to occur in the United States.

Worldwide: Africa and surrounding island nations, tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, the Caribbean, Central and South America.

Native to southern Asia.

Diagnostic characteristics

  • 1.2 - 3.1 mm (0.05 - 0.12 in.) in length, and 0.7 - 3.0 mm (0.03 - 0.12 in.).
  • Brownish-red or tan with segmented clumps of pink to purple wax covering the body. A wide but indistinct stripe is noticeable on its back.
  • Rotund and noticeably rounded from a side view.
  • 18 lateral wax filaments protrude from the margin.
  • Legs are robust with a thick thigh-like segment (femur).
  • The longest hair-like structures (setae) on the top of the insect (dorsum) are longer than 50 microns (0.002 in.).
  • No ovisac.
  • Positive identification requires a properly slide-mounted female specimen.
  • Females complete three nymphal stages before maturation.
  • Males complete two nymphal stages followed by a pre-pupal and pupal stage before maturation.
  • Pale maroon.
  • Ovoid.
  • Hatch within the female so young are born live.


Citrus hosts

All citrus and their hybrids, but the following are specifically identified in scientific literature:

  • lemon, Citrus limon
  • pummelo, Citrus maxima
  • sour orange, Citrus aurantium
Non-citrus hosts

Broad host range, plants from over 35 families serve as hosts including:

  • avocado, Persea americana
  • Bauhinia spp.
  • black nightshade, Solanum nigrum
  • coconut, Cocos nucifera
  • coffee, Coffea arabica
  • custard apple, Annona muricata
  • Erythrina spp.
  • four-o'clock, Mirabilis jalapa
  • grape, Vitis spp.
  • green amaranth or pigweed, Amaranthus gracilis
  • guava, Psidium guajava
  • kapok tree, Ceiba pentandra
  • longan, Dimocarpus longan
  • Ludwigia hyssopifolia
  • lychee, Litchi chinensis
  • mango, Mangifera indica
  • palms, many genera
  • pomegranate, Punica granatum
  • potato, Solanum tuberosum
  • sowthistle, Sonchus arvensis
  • Spondias spp.
  • tamarind, Tamarindus indica
  • toothache plant, Spilanthes acmella

Host damage

  • May retard or delay ripening.
  • Can become abnormally shaped and drop prematurely.
  • Honeydew excreted by mealybugs coats the outside of fruit and promotes the growth of sooty mold fungus that inhibits photosynthesis, weakens the plant, and makes fruit unattractive.
  • Infestation can cause leaf chlorosis and defoliation.
  • Infestation reported only reported on coffee and tamarind.
  • Can be infested.



Coffee mealybugs give birth to live young called "crawlers." Crawlers seek out leaves and shoots to feed upon until they mature. Immatures and adults pierce soft tissues of the plant to feed on the phloem.



Planococcus lilacinus has been detected at ports-of-entry numerous times and is one of the ten most frequently intercepted mealybugs.

All phloem-feeding, honeydew-producing pests have the potential to be tended by ants. The ants feed on the honeydew excreted by the pest and protect the pest from natural enemies. This protection can disrupt biological control programs.



Ben-Dov, Y. 2009. ScaleNet database: Planococcus lilacinus (Cockerell)(

Cox, J.M., and A.C. Freeston. 1985. Identification of mealybugs of the genus Planococcus (Homoptera: Pseudococcidae) occurring on cacao throughout the world. J. of Nat. Hist. 19: 719-728 (

Gill, R.J. 1997. Coccid pests of important crops: Citrus, pp. 207-215. In Y. Ben-Dov, C.J. Hodgson (Eds.). World Crop Pests, Vol. 7B, Soft scale insects - their biology, natural enemies and control. Elsevier Science B.V.

Gullan, P.J. 2000. Identification of the immature instars of mealybugs (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) found on citrus in Australia Aust. J. Entomol. 39, 160-166. (

Janick, J., and R.E. Paull (Eds.). 2008. The encyclopedia of fruit and nuts. CABI International Publishing, North America.

MacLeod, A. 2006. CSL Pest Risk Analysis for Planococcus lilacinus. (

Miller, D.R., G.L. Miller, G.W. Watson. 2002. Invasive species of mealybugs (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) and their threat to U.S. agriculture. Proc. Entomol. Soc. Wash. 104: 825-836.

Miller, D.R., A. Rung, G.L. Venable, and R.J. Gill. 2007. Scale Insects: Identification tools for species of quarantine significance. CBIT Publishing, Queensland, Australia (

Waite, G.K., and R.M. Barrera. 2002. Insect and mite pests, pp. 345-346. In A.W. Whiley, B. Schaffer, B.A. Schaffer, and B.N. Wolstenholme (eds.). The avocado: botany, production and uses. CABI publishing: Cambridge, MA.



Weeks, J.A., K.W. Martin, A.C. Hodges, and N.C. Leppla


Citrus Pests
Content last updated June, 2012