The Mealybug Destroyer

Scouting is an important part of keeping pests in check and gardeners are often up to the task.  As you routinely enjoy the beauty of your ornamental and edible plants, you are likely to catch a pest sighting before it gets out of control.  One insect that may trick us upon first glance into thinking we have a pest is an interesting lady beetle called the Mealybug destroyer.

Lady beetles are one of the most recognizable insects in the garden with their rounded shiny bodies and often bright colors and spots.  The adult mealybug destroyer is smaller than a typical lady beetle, about 1/8 of an inch long, with a dark brownish black body and dull orangish head.  They move quickly over flowers and leaves in search of food. The larval stage can be confusing because immatures look very similar to mealybugs, one of their favorite prey.  Larva have white, woolly protuberances on the body.  Whereas pest mealybugs look flatter, the mealybug destroyer immatures have parts that look like soft white spikes.

Pest mealybug compared to beneficial mealybug destroyer. Photos by Beth Bolles, UF IFAS Extension Escambia County.

Why not learn to recognize an insect that eats lots of soft bodied pests on your plants? Once you see one, you will be able to spot these beneficials more often on your favorite garden flowers.


Posted: May 29, 2024

Category: Florida-Friendly Landscaping, HOME LANDSCAPES, Pests & Disease
Tags: Beneficial Insects, Insects, Lady Beetles, Predators

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