Coffee mealybug


Have you seen Coffee mealybug?

Be on the lookout and report signs to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or contact the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.

Early detection and reporting are key elements in controlling Coffee mealybug.

Coffee mealybugs (Planococcus lilacinus) pose a threat to a range of Australian horticultural industries. The coffee mealybug has a very broad host range that includes coffee, tamarind, custard apple, coconut, cocoa and citrus.

The Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy (NAQS) has detected coffee mealybug on some Torres Strait Islands and near the tip of Cape York Peninsula on the mainland.

Movement restrictions are in place to prevent its spread out of the far northern biosecurity zone (PDF, 333KB).

Scientific name

Planococcus lilacinus

Other names

  • Oriental cacao mealybug
  • Lilac mealybug


  • 1–3mm in size.
  • Round, soft-bodied insects that are brownish red or tan in colour, with clumped segments of pink/purple wax covering their bodies. They can have an indistinct black stripe on their back.
  • Adult males have wings whereas adult females are wingless.
  • The newly hatched nymphs are light yellow, then become pale maroon in colour.

Plant stage and plant parts affected

  • All plant stages from seedling to flowering and fruiting can be affected.
  • Coffee mealybug attacks mainly fruit, stems and foliage, but it has also been reported on the root system of plants.

Plant damage

  • Wilting/distortion of buds and leaves.
  • Excess honeydew can lead to sooty mould forming.
  • Defoliation.
  • Fruit drop.
  • Dead branches.

Coffee mealybugs may be tended by ants.

Coffee mealybugs are thought to be involved in the spread of Ceylon cocoa virus.

May be confused with

Planococcus mealybugs have a thin mealy wax coating on their surface and a faint midline stripe.

There are several similar mealybugs present in Australia; the citrus mealybug (Planococcus citri) and Pacific mealybug (P. minor). Both mealybugs also have a broad host range.

Citrus mealybugs and Pacific mealybugs have yellow to pale pink bodies, whereas coffee mealybugs (Planococcus lilacinus) has a reddish brown body.

If in doubt, ALWAYS report suspect pests.


Coffee mealybugs are widespread in southern Asia and are one of the most common mealybug species in many areas. They have also been recorded from the Pacific, Africa, Central America and the Caribbean.

Coffee mealybug is present in Papua New Guinea, and has been detected in Australia on some Torres Strait Islands, and on the mainland on the tip of Cape York Peninsula, Queensland.


Coffee mealybugs have been recorded from over 70 different species of plants from more than 30 plant families.

Hosts include:

  • avocado (Persea americana)
  • black nightshade (Solanum nigrum)
  • coconut (Cocos nucifera)
  • coffee (Coffea arabica)
  • custard apple (Annona muricata)
  • grape (Vitis spp.)
  • green amaranth or pigweed (Amaranthus gracilis)
  • guava (Psidium guajava)
  • lychee (Litchi chinensis)
  • mango (Mangifera indica)
  • palms (many genera)
  • pomegranate (Punica granatum)
  • potato (Solanum tuberosum)
  • tamarind (Tamarindus indica).

Life cycle

  • Female coffee mealybugs give birth to live young.
  • Females have 3 nymphal stages before becoming adults.
  • Males complete 2 nymphal stages followed by a pre-pupal and pupal stage before maturing and emerging as winged adults.


Queensland's horticulture (fruits, nuts, vegetables and production of ornamental plants) is highly diverse and is estimated to be worth $4.5 billion in 2018.

Mealybugs are pests of economic importance for a wide range of hosts (listed above). They can cause severe damage to crops, reduce yield and can disrupt domestic and international access to markets as a result of trade bans.

Backyard growers can also be affected by new mealybug infestations.

How it is spread

Coffee mealybugs could easily be spread by people moving infested plant material.

Biosecurity Queensland and the Australian Government have strict regulations in place to prevent the movement of risk materials between, and out of, their respective quarantine zones in the Torres Strait and on the Queensland mainland.

Read about:

Monitoring and action

Examine unthrifty plants, plants with sooty mould, or plants with excessive leaf or fruit drop or distorted buds for the presence of mealybugs. They may be tended by ants.

Look for mealybugs that have a thin mealy wax on their surface and a faint midline stripe, and are reddish brown in colour.

Coffee mealybugs can attack fruit, stems and foliage, and plant roots.

Report suspect coffee mealybug to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

Legal requirements

If you think you have found coffee mealybug on the Queensland mainland, report it to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

You must take all reasonable and practical steps under your control to minimise any associated risks. This is called a general biosecurity obligation (GBO).

Coffee mealybug is a far northern pest controlled in the far northern biosecurity zones (FNBZ) (PDF, 333KB) under the Biosecurity Regulation 2016.

There are restrictions in place on the movement of 'far north pest carriers' which may harbour pests and diseases. These include:

  • fruit and vegetables
  • plants and other plant material
  • soil and other growing mediums
  • appliances or equipment that have been in contact with a mango plant or soil/growing mediums in which bananas, mangos or sugarcane has been grown.

You must not move any plant, plant product such as timber, soil or organic matter:

  • from FNBZ 1 to a place outside FNBZ 1
  • from FNBZ 2 to a place outside FNBZ 2 (other than FNBZ 1).

You must apply for a biosecurity instrument permit to move any of these items out of FNBZ 1 and 2.

To learn more about the far northern biosecurity zones, far northern pests and pest carriers, and how to apply for a biosecurity instrument permit, visit Biosecurity Queensland or contact us on 13 25 23.

Ensure you observe the movement restrictions if you live on Cape York Peninsula or intend to travel there.

Biosecurity Queensland inspectors at the Cape York Biosecurity Centre check vehicles moving south from Cape York Peninsula to ensure that pests or pest carriers are not moved from the zone.

Your cooperation in complying with these restrictions will help protect Queensland from new mealybugs.