Both female and male adult hibiscus mealybugs are about one-eighth inch (3 mm) long. Female bodies are pink in color with a white waxy covering. They are wingless and appear as ovoid shapes covered by a mass of white mealy wax. Males have a pair of wings and two long waxy tails and are capable of flight.
Damage: As it feeds, the hibiscus mealybug injects into the plant a toxic saliva that results in malformed leaf and shoot growth, stunting, and occasional death. Leaves show a characteristic curling, similar to damage caused by viruses. Heavily infested plants have shortened internodes leading to resetting or a "bunchy top" appearance. A heavy, black, sooty mold may develop on an infested plant's leaves and stems as a result of the mealybug's heavy honey-dew secretions. When fruits are infested, they can be entirely covered with the white waxy coating of the mealybug. Infestation can lead to fruit drop, or fruit may remain on the host in a dried and shriveled condition. If flower blossoms are attacked, the fruit sets poorly. In plants such as peanuts, potatoes, and some grasses, the pest has been reported to attack the root systems.
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