Citrophilus mealybug: pest data sheet

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Citrophilus mealybug (Pseudococcus calceolariae) is an exotic pest to Western Australia. It is a serious pest of of many horticultural industries that can downgrade fruit quality and affect fruit production. This pest data sheet provides basic scientific information about Citrophilus mealybug and the damage it can cause.

Preferred scientific name

Pseudococcus calceolariae (Maskell 1879) [Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae]


Dactylopius calceolariae Maskell 1879 Dactylopius similans Lidgett 1898 Erium calceolariae Lindinger 1935 Pseudococcus similans Fernald 1903 Pseudococcus calceolariae Fernald 1903 Pseudococcus fragilis Brain 1912 Pseudococcus citrophilus Clausen 1915 Pseudococcus gahani Green 1915

Alternative common names

Scarlet mealybug Currant mealybug

Common host plants

Carrot, citrus, European grape, fig, grevillea, hibiscus, Monterey pine, oleander, pea, peanut, pear, potato, quince, rhododendron, stone fruit, walnut.

Plant part affected

Foliage, fruit and twigs

Australian distribution

Queensland (Williams 1985)
New South Wales (Smith et al. 1997)
Victoria (Smith et al. 1997)
Tasmania (Williams 1985)
South Australia (Smith et al. 1997).

Status in Western Australia

Pseudococcus calceolariae (Maskell 1879) is considered to be absent from WA and is a quarantine pest. It is a prohibited organism under section 12 of the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act, 2007.

To confirm the current status please check the Western Australian Organism List. For more information on prohibited organisms please see frequently asked questions about the BAM Act and WAOL.

Biology and ecology

Citrophilus mealybug is a slow moving oval-shaped insect about 3–4mm long that is native to eastern Australia. The adult female has a thin coating of white, mealy wax typical of mealybugs.

A characteristic feature is its red-coloured body juices. Most other mealybug species have cream to yellow body juices. The adult males are rarely seen and are small delicate winged insects with long tail filaments. They do not feed and only survive for a few days.

Citrophilus mealybug on plum
Citrophilus mealybug on plum

Developmental stages include the egg, 3-4 larval stages, pupae (male only) and adults.

Eggs are laid in groups of up to 500 in egg sacs and 3-4 generations can occur throughout the year (Smith et al. 1997). Williams (1985) provides a detailed description of the species.

Citrophilus mealybug is usually found in protected sites such as crevices on branches or the calyx of fruit (McLaren et al. 1999). It has been recorded from nearly 50 host families (Ben-Dov 2013).

The nymphs are the main means of spread within an orchard where they can be dispersed by wind, animals or workers. New infestations can be caused by moving infested fruit, nursery stock or as hitchhikers on animals and workers (Hely et al. 1982).

Economic consequences

Citrophilus mealybug extract plant sap, reducing tree vigour and production, and secrete large amounts of honeydew — an exudate high in sugar that encourages development of sooty mould (Hely et al. 1982).

The presence of honeydew and sooty mould downgrades fruit quality resulting in unmarketable fruit. Fruit production can also be affected through reduced photosynthesis.

What do I do if I find it?

Pseudococcus calceolariae (Maskell 1879) is a prohibited organism for WA. It is important that suspect infestations are reported. Early detection and eradication will help protect WA horticultural industries. Contact the Pest and Disease Information Service (PaDIS) to report this pest.


Ben-Dov Y 2013, ScaleNet, Pseudococcus calceolariae (Maskell), online database. Viewed 6 July 2013,

Hely PC, Pasfield G & Gellatley GJ 1982, Insect pests of fruit and vegetables in New South Wales. Inkata Press, Melbourne.

McLaren GF 1999, 'Mealybug', in GF McLaren, G Grandison, GA Wood, G Tate, I Horner (eds.), Summerfruit in New Zealand: management of pests and diseases. HortResearch, Dunedin, NZ, p. 37.

Smith D, Beattie GAC & Broadley R, ed. 1997, Citrus pests and their natural enemies : integrated pest management in Australia. Department of Primary Industries, Queensland, Brisbane.

Williams DJ 1985, Australian mealybugs. British Museum (Natural History), London.

Contact information

Pest and Disease Information Service (PaDIS)
+61 (0)8 9368 3080