Pest description and crop damage The adult female is wingless and looks similar to a nymph. It can be up to 3/16 inch long. It has a well-developed ring of waxy filaments around the sides of its body. The newly-hatched nymphs (or crawlers) are purplish and covered with a powdery wax coating. As the nymphs get older, the coating gets thicker, a fringe of wax filaments develops and they become more sedentary. Mealybugs damage results from the honeydew it secretes. Honeydew is cast off in small droplets and falls down through the canopy.
Biology and life history Grape mealybugs overwinter as crawlers in egg sacs beneath bark scales and in cracks. Crawlers start emerging from egg sacs at the beginning of bud swell and begin feeding on the bases of buds. When buds open they go directly to new shoots and leaves. Once settled, the crawlers start feeding and become progressively harder to kill. First generation nymphs mature during late June and July in the Pacific Northwest. Adult males appear first, mate with nearly mature nymphs or adult females and die. Receptive females release a pheromone to attract males. The wingless females migrate to sheltered areas, lay eggs and die in the egg sac. A partial second generation matures in late August and September. Nymphs of this generation sometimes settle in or around the fruit calyx.
Little research has been done to date on the effectiveness of natural enemies in keeping mealybug populations at levels below economic damage. Parasitic wasps, predatory bugs, predatory beetles, lacewings, and spiders can take a considerable toll of mealybugs when few broad-spectrum chemicals are used. A lady beetle, known as the "mealybug destroyer" (Cryptolaemus montrouzieri), is considered an effective predator of mealybugs worldwide. It is available from some insectaries.
Management-chemical control: HOME USE
- azadirachtin (neem oil)-Plum only. Some formulations are OMRI-listed for organic use.
- pyrethrins-Some formulations are OMRI-listed for organic use.
Management-chemical control: COMMERCIAL USE
- diazinon (Diazinon 50W) at 1 lb/100 gal water (4 lb/a). Do not exceed one in-season application per growing season. REI 4 days.
Spring and summer spray
- acetamiprid (Assail 30SG) at 8 oz/a. REI 12 hr. PHI 7 days. REI 12 hr.
- imidacloprid (Provado 1.6F) at 4 to 8 fl oz/a. REI 12 hr. PHI 7 days. Warning: Toxic to bees. Do not use until pollination is complete and bees have left the orchard.
- spirotetramat (Movento, Ultor)-Product formulations vary, check label for rates. REI 24 hr. PHI 7 days.