Jack Beardsley mealybug

Alert

Have you seen Jack Beardsley mealybug?

Be on the lookout and report it.

Under Queensland legislation if you suspect the presence of Jack Beardsley mealybug, you must report it 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 Jack Beardsley mealybug.

Jack Beardsley mealybug (Pseudococcus jackbeardsleyi) poses a threat to a range of Australian horticultural industries. It has a very broad host range that includes citrus, capsicum, banana, tomato, orchids, pepper and hibiscus plants.

Jack Beardsley mealybug occurs on the Torres Strait Islands and on the mainland on Cape York Peninsula.

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

Cause

Jack Beardsley mealybug is also known as Pseudococcus jackbeardsleyi. It is a small soft bodied insect with a powdery coating.

Other names

  • Short-tailed mealybug
  • Banana mealybug

Description

Insect

  • Oval, soft bodied insects.
  • 1–3mm in size.
  • Grey or pinkish colour, and look dusted in flour which is actually a white cottony wax.
  • 4 long filaments at the tip of the abdomen.
  • 36 leg-like filaments around the perimeter of the body.

Plant stage and plant parts affected

  • All plant stages, from seedling to flowering and fruiting can be affected.
  • Jack Beardsley mealybug infests fruit, stems and foliage. It has also been reported to damage the root system of coffee and tamarind plants.

Plant damage

  • Honeydew and/or sooty mould.
  • Wilting leaves.
  • White dusty residue.
  • Dead leaves or branches.

Jack Beardsley mealybugs may be tended by ants that protect them from predators in return for the honeydew they secrete.

May be confused with

Mealybugs in the Pseudococcus group can look quite similar and there are some members of that group already present in Australia.

Jack Beardsley mealybugs can infest 48 different plant varieties.

If you have a new mealybug infesting different plant varieties, don't hesitate to report it. An expert is required to identify Jack Beardsley mealybugs.

Distribution

Jack Beardsley mealybugs have a widespread distribution that includes South-East Asia, North, Central and South America, and parts of Africa and the Pacific.

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

Hosts

Jack Beardsley mealybugs can infest 48 plant families including:

  • citrus
  • capsicum
  • banana
  • tomato
  • potato
  • orchids
  • pepper
  • hibiscus plants.

Life cycle

  • 300–600 eggs are laid.
  • Nymphs hatch from the eggs approximately 10 days later.
  • Nymphs have legs and are able to crawl around feeding.
  • The nymphs have 3 growth stages (instars).
  • Adult male mealybugs are small, winged and active, and die soon after mating.
  • Soon after egg production, the adult female dies.
  • The whole lifecycle, from egg to adult, takes about a month under greenhouse conditions.

Impacts

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 a wide range of host plants. They can cause severe damage to crops, reduce yield and can disrupt domestic and international access to markets.

Backyard growers can also be affected by new mealybug infestations.

How it is spread

Jack Beardsley mealybug could easily be spread by people moving infested plant material or the mealybug hitchhiking in soil and on equipment and other appliances. It is possible that they can also be windborne.

Strict regulations are in place to prevent the movement of risk materials between, and out of, respective quarantine zones in the Torres Strait and on the Queensland mainland. These regulations include the:

Monitoring and action

Check for the presence of mealybugs on plants:

  • that aren't growing well
  • with excess honeydew and/or sooty mould
  • with excessive ants
  • with excessive leaf or fruit drop.

Look for mealybugs that have soft oval-bodies, 1–3mm in size, grey or pinkish colour, and look dusted in flour. They will have 4 long filaments at the tip of their abdomen and 36 leg-like filaments around the perimeter of the body.

Report suspect Jack Beardsley mealybug to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

Legal requirements

Jack Beardsley mealybug is a prohibited plant pest under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Report suspected jack beardsley mealybug to Biosecurity Queensland immediately on 13 25 23 or contact the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.

If you think you have found jack beardsley 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).

Jack beardsley mealybug is also a declared far northern pest. The far northern biosecurity zones (PDF, 333KB) have been established to prevent the spread of far northern pests.

There are regulations in place restricting the movement of fruit and vegetables, plants and other plant material, soil and equipment (collectively called far northern pest carriers) which may harbour pests and diseases. You must apply for a biosecurity instrument permit to move any of these items out of the far northern biosecurity zones.

It is illegal to move a far northern pest such as jack beardsley mealybug, or far northern pest carriers without a biosecurity instrument permit:

  • from far northern biosecurity zone 1 to a place outside of that zone
  • or
  • from far northern biosecurity zone 2 to a place outside that zone unless it is into far northern biosecurity zone 1.

You must observe movement restrictions if you are travelling to or around the Cape York Peninsula, or you live there.

For more information about biosecurity instrument permits, contact the Customer Service Centre on 13 25 23 (from interstate use (07) 3404 6999) or email qld.plantquarantine@daf.qld.gov.au.

Biosecurity Queensland inspectors at the Cape York Biosecurity Centre at Coen 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 jack beardsley mealybug and other far northern pests.

Further information