Mealybugs also love the comfort of a nice warm glasshouse or conservatory.
As with all sap suckers, they can spread diseases and generally reduce the health of the plant - that sap is there for a good reason !
They are also very good at producing Honeydew. I don’t mind honest dirt, but I hate sticky fingers!
One really annoying thing about mealybugs is that they do not fly, or walk very much either. Therefore the only way they got into the greenhouse is because I brought them in.
How annoying is that !!
However, our Australian cousins have the answer.
Now I really don’t know why, but this name always makes me think it belongs to a particularly villianous Harry Potter character.
However to us this little ladybird is no villain.
Although very shy, hiding in any nook or crevice, this little bug will start to make real inroads in the mealybug population after a few weeks.
Also, if your greenhouse or conservatory is heated, they will happily breed. So your greenhouse will be totally off limits to mealybugs in the future too.
Incidentally please, please be careful about this little ladybirds larvae - they look like fat mealy bugs !
Would really hate you to go squashing them saying ‘Gotcha’ ( or any other expletive for that matter ! )
Have a good look at the larvae when the family arrives - mealy bugs tend towards pinkness whereas the ladybirds are white with a yellowish, greyish belly.
( So O.K. - descriptions are not my strongpoint )
However, Nature often has several ways of sorting out a problem.
( Oh, O.K. I know she gives the problems in the first place, but she just likes to keep us on our toes ! )
Our ladybirds can sort out all types of mealybugs, but how about some more aerial back up ?
Well, we have some more little wasps.
( It’s all right, like the tiny Aphidius and Praon wasps these don’t sting either.)
Leptomastix dactylopii , looks quite sweet really,but a mealybug to them is more like an ante-natal ward and an infants fast food joint !
They lay their eggs on the mealy bug, and fly off ( probably forgetting all about the kids.)
It particularly likes the citrus mealybug (Planococcus citri.)
These bugs don’t need males at all to produce around 600 eggs a time.
Growing up quickly enough to do it 5 - 6 times a year.
You know the more I think about some insects child rearing techniques - and their lack of need for males around the house - I wonder if we don’t have an awful lot to learn. ( Although the mealybugs do pop their clogs after giving birth - but wow after 600, wouldn’t you ! )
The little wasp above lives quite happily with an even smaller creature of similar habits Anagyrus pseudococci.
As well as the citrus mealybug, this tiny, tiny little creature quite likes using the glasshouse mealybug(Pseudococcus viburni ) as a nursery too.
This glasshouse mealybug (Pseudococcus viburni) is also known as the ‘obscure’ - but not to Leptomastix epona. Along with the other little wasps, it is really good at searching any mealybugs which our Ladybirds may overlook.
Our Cryptolaemus really get stuck in to heavy infestations, but all these nippy little wasps keep on patrol for the isolated mealybug they may miss.
A sort of mopping up operation after the heavy mobs been in !
Incidentally, all these photographs are courtesy of Dr Mike Copland, who has published so many papers on bio-controls I bet even he has lost count. ( Where did you think I got all those latin names from. )
If you have a nice warm and bright greenhouse or conservatory, I really recommend you follow up your Cryptolaemus introduction with a selection of these tiny wasps.
As always, although they are so easy to introduce, full instructions will be included.