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Root Mealybug

Rhizoecus spp.

Root Mealybug, Ground Mealybugs

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Root Mealybugs are white waxy insects which localise and feed on the roots of plants. Because of their tendency to attack plant roots, they're not often noticed until plants are damaged significantly. They're a highly general group and can be found on a wide variety of hosts. In colder locations, they're restricted to plants grown indoors and under glass. Symptoms involved stunted or slowed growth, but please note slowed growth is normal during colder seasons! You may also notice reduced vigour, and white 'fluffy' masses on the roots when plants are pulled up. Slow-growing or plants already under some other environmental stress are more susepable to dying. Root Mealybugs won't be found in UK gardens, however, may attack houseplants or those grown in greenhouses.
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Traits

Can dramatically impact plant vigour.

Appearance

Adults: It's the females that are often found on plants. They're oval-shaped and white and fuzzy in texture, and will always be located on the plant roots. Size can vary, but they'll be no bigger than 0.3 cm. Nymphs: Smaller versions than the adults, but move much quicker around the plant. It's the nymphs that are responsible for spreading the pest infestation. Eggs: The eggs look like tiny masses of white-waxy fluff.

Symptoms

Slow growth. Plants may appear to lack vigour. If you suspect an infestation it's advised to pull up plants and inspect them. White cottony masses, or insects on the plant roots. Plant death.

Activity

Diurnal

Personality

Order

Hemiptera

Family

Pseudococcidae

Metamorphosis

Incomplete

Distribution

Worldwide

Biological treatment

It's challenging to treat plants with Root Mealybug infestations. Newly purchased plants should always be inspected by removing the pot before the plant is placed near others. If plants demonstrate a dramatic reduction in growth, then the roots should be checked. Repot plants when the roots begin emerging from the holes underneath the pot or the plant becomes top-heavy. This will prevent the plant from becoming pot bound and make it less susceptible to Root Mealybug damage. Try to ensure water from infested plants doesn't drain into the areas belonging to clean plants. Treat infested plants outside of greenhouses and try to quarantine them until they're healthy again. Always sterilise pots when repotting. Keep glasshouse clean of debris.

Attracts

Tender Geranium

Pelargonium spp.

A close up of a fern plant

Ferns

Fern Plants

Fuchsia

Fuchsia spp.

A close up of a green succulent plant

Succulents

Succulent Plants

African Violet

Saintpaulia spp.

A green and yellow Sansevieria plant in a pot

Mother-In-Law's Tongue

Sansevieria spp.

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