Papaya mealybug


Have you seen papaya 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 papaya mealybug.

Papaya mealybug (Paracoccus marginatus) is an invasive pest that can spread rapidly. It forms large infestations on leaves, fruit and stems of host plants such as papaya, frangipani and hibiscus.

In Australia, the pest was first detected in the Darwin area of the Northern Territory in July 2023. It has not been detected in Queensland.

Papaya mealybug can be a threat to commercial papaya production, as well as backyard papaya trees.

Papaya mealybug and the fruit they have infested pose no threat to humans.



  • Oval shaped
  • 2.0–3.5mm long
  • Yellow body covered in white wax with a fringe of short filaments
  • Round yellow eggs laid inside an egg sac

Plant damage

  • Leaf chlorosis, deformation or crinkling
  • Premature aging of leaves
  • Flowers and fruit may be underdeveloped or may drop under severe infestation
  • Sooty mould
  • Thick white, sticky waxy coating on leaves, stem and fruit

May be confused with

Papaya mealybug may be confused with other mealybugs. Identification of papaya mealybug can only be done by a specialist.


Papaya mealybug is thought to have originated in Central America. There is widespread distribution throughout the tropical regions of Asia, North, Central and South America, Africa and the Pacific.

In Australia, papaya mealybug is only known to occur in Darwin, Northern Territory. The pest has not been detected in Queensland.


Papaya mealybug has a known host range of over 200 plants.

Preferred hosts include:

  • papaya
  • frangipani
  • hibiscus.

Other hosts include:

  • avocado
  • capsicum
  • cherry
  • cotton
  • eggplant
  • grapefruit
  • guava
  • jatropha
  • mango
  • pea
  • pomegranate
  • sweet potato
  • teak
  • tomato.

Life cycle

  • 100–600 eggs are laid.
  • Once hatched, first instar crawlers start feeding on sap from plant tissue.
  • Females undergo 4 instars before moulting into adults.
  • Males undergo 2 instars, then pre pupa and pupa, and then emerge as winged adults.
  • There may be up to 5 generations per year depending on climatic conditions.


Papaya mealybug is a pest of a wide range of host plants. It may cause severe damage to crops, reduce crop yield, and disrupt domestic and international market access.

Backyard growers of papaya can also be affected by papaya mealybug infestations.

How it is spread

The biggest risk of spread of papaya mealybug is through the movement of infested plant material, soil or fruit.

Papaya mealybug is most easily spread when they are tiny crawlers.

Papaya mealybug crawlers have a limited range of natural dispersal to neighbouring plants. Strong winds may increase the range of dispersal.

Monitoring and action

If you have papaya, frangipani and hibiscus trees, inspect them for papaya mealybugs.


Call 13 25 23 if you find a plant you suspect may be Papaya mealybug to seek advice on control options.

Legal requirements

If you suspect the presence of papaya mealybug, contact Biosecurity Queensland immediately or contact the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.

If you think you have found papaya mealybug, you must take all reasonable and practical steps under your control to minimise any associated risks. This is called a general biosecurity obligation (GBO).

Read about restrictions on moving plant material, soil and related equipment into Queensland.