IRR2004.06

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Invasive Insect Report 2004.06

Coconut mealybug, Nipaecoccus nipae (Homoptera: Pseudococcidae)

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Identification by G. Watson, Natural History Museum, London, April 2004:

  • Family Pseudococcidae (Mealybugs)
    • Species Nipaecoccus nipae (Maskell)

Identifier's comments:

Nipaecoccus nipae is a polyphagous tropical/subtropical mealybug with a preference for palm and fruit tree hosts, which it can damage. It is one of the mealybug species whose bodies go black in ethanol, whereas most species remain buff-coloured; however, your sample was well preserved thanks to the heat treatment, and the bodies had not gone black. N. nipae has been recorded from numerous tropical fruit trees, always feeding on the leaves (sometimes attended by ants, which may deter natural enemies). Honeydew excretions foul the leaves and result in sooty mould growth, impairing photosynthesis and sometimes causing defoliation and even death of young trees. It has been introduced accidentally to the Canary Islands, Madeira, parts of the Mediterranean and Eurasia, Madagascar, India, Korea, Hawaii (first record 1902) and, more recently, Micronesia (Pohnpei 1999) and Samoa (Savaii 2000, Upolu 2002). This is the first record from Guam. Nipaecoccus nipae has been successfully controlled in Hawaii and Puerto Rico by introduction of the encyrtid wasp, Pseudaphycus utilis Timberlake, from Mexico. None of your specimens had been parasitized.

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