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Citrus Pests


Citrus mealybug


Scientific name


Planococcus citri (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae)

Similar species


passionvine mealybug, Planococcus minor

Field specimens of citrus mealybug cannot be distinguished from passionvine mealybug. Confirmation requires slide-mounting and/or molecular testing of the adult female.



United States: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, and Puerto Rico.

Worldwide: Cosmopolitan, most citrus growing regions.

Diagnostic characteristics

Adult females
  • 3.0 mm (0.12 in.) in length and 1.5 mm (0.06 in.) in width.
  • Pink body when newly molted, transitioning to orange-brown when mature. Brown-red legs.
  • Wax does not obscure body color, but insect appears "dusted in flour."
  • Oval.
  • Wingless.
  • Antennae have eight segments.
  • A single line on top of the insect extends from the head to anus and appears to bisect the body into symmetrical halves.
  • A horizontal ring of short and curved wax filaments extend outward from the body edge (margin) and the posterior end, encircling the insect. Differs from many other mealybugs in that the posterior filaments are approximately the same size as the ones from the margin. In many other species, the filaments are longer in the posterior than the margins.
  • Filaments are short and triangular with approximately 17 - 18 filaments on each side.
  • The ovisac is under the body of the female and resembles a tuft of cotton with eggs interspersed.
Adult males
  • Males are smaller and narrower than the females, but appear to be 4.5 millimeters long due to the wings and tail filaments.
  • Reddish-brown.
  • Elongate and narrower initially; resembles a two-winged gnat when mature.
  • Two wings with minimal venation.
  • Antennae appear "hairy."
Immature females
  • Four instars.
  • First instar mobile crawlers are yellow with red eyes and distinct antennae.
  • Nymphs resemble larger adult females.
  • Antennae have six segments for instars one and two, then seven segments until adulthood.
Immature males
  • Yellow to amber.
  • Oblong.
  • 400 - 600 eggs are laid in a fluffy and cottony-appearing white ovisac.


Citrus hosts
  • citron, Citrus medica
  • common mandarins (including tangerine), Citrus reticulata
  • grapefruit, Citrus paradisi
  • lemon, Citrus limon
  • pummelo, Citrus maxima
  • sour orange, Citrus aurantium
  • sweet orange, Citrus sinensis
Non-citrus hosts

It is a common pest of ornamental plants, and infests at least 27 plant families. It is also a common greenhouse pest. Highly polyphagous and can be found on many flowering plants including:

  • Annona spp.
  • banana, Musa spp.
  • carambola, Averrhoa carambola
  • Coffee, Coffea arabica and C. robusta
  • flowering ginger, Heliconia spp.
  • geranium, Pelargonium spp.
  • ginger, Zingiber officinale
  • guava, Psidium spp.
  • longan, Dimocarpus longan
  • lychee, Lychee chinensis
  • Macadamia spp.
  • mango, Mangifera indica
  • orchids, multiple genera
  • persimmon, Diospyros spp.
  • sago palm, Cycas revoluta
  • Theobroma cacao

Host damage

  • Feeding damages the fruit rind.
  • Honeydew excreted by mealybugs coats the outside of fruits and leaves and promotes the growth of sooty mold fungus that inhibits photosynthesis, weakens the plant, and makes fruit unattractive.
  • Yellowed, chlorotic, and potentially distorted leaves.
  • Infested roots cause leaves to wilt and turn yellow.
  • Roots attacked by mealybugs can become encrusted with a greenish-white Polysporus fungus that can kill the tree.
  • Heavy feeding on twigs can cause premature leaf, fruit, and flower drop.



Eggs are produced sexually or asexually (parthenogenesis). Males are rare, typically fly in the early morning, and live only a few hours. The citrus mealybug overwinters as an egg on the upper roots, trunk, and lower branches of a tree. Mealybugs remain mobile during their entire lifespan and have been shown to disseminate occasionally by wind and hitchhike on other creatures. Citrus mealybugs prefer humid and shaded conditions and are often tended by ants.



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. 2001. ScaleNet, Planococcus citri. (

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

Kerns, D., G. Wright, and J. Loghry. 2002. Citrus arthropod pest management in Arizona. (

Martin, J.L., and R.F.L. Mau. 2007. The crop knowledge master: Planococcus citri (Rizzo).(

Miller, D.R. 2005. Selected scale insect groups (Hempitera: Coccoidea) in the southern region of the United States. Fla. Entomol. 88: 482-501. (

Osborne, L. S. 2000. Mealybugs. (

Polat, F., S. Ulgenturk, and M.B. Kaydan. 2007. Developmental biology of citrus mealybug, Planococcus citri (Risso) (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae), on ornamental plants, pp. 177-184. In M. Branco, J.C. Franco, and C. Hodgson (eds.), Proceedings, Symposium: XI International Symposium on Scale Insect Studies, 24-27 September 2007, Oeiras, Portugal. ISA Press, Lisbon, Portugal.

Von Ellenrieder, N. 2003. California Department of Agriculture fact sheet: citrus mealybug (Planococcus citri: Pseudococcidae). (



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


Citrus Pests
Content last updated June, 2012