A Fluffy Woolly Mass on Woody Plants

Homeowner accounts of white fluffy woolly masses on woody ornamentals have been on the rise. They can appear on the ends of a wide variety of woody ornamental branches in the landscape. A closer inspection of these white woolly masses can provide the curious observer with a startling surprise. “It’s Alive!” It moves and seems to jump at you, most likely jumping away from you. Once you have recovered from the mildly frightful encounter, you ask yourself, “What was that?”

Adult citrus flatid planthopper, Metcalfa pruinosa  (Say). Credits: Photograph by: Lyle J. Buss, University of  Florida
Adult citrus flatid planthopper, Metcalfa pruinosa
(Say). Credits: Photograph by: Lyle J. Buss, University of Florida

They are planthoppers (Metcalfa pruinosa), an insect in the order Hemiptera. The common name for this woolly looking planthopper is the citrus flatid planthopper (CFP). As the name implies, they occur on citrus but can also be found on many woody ornamentals and fruit trees. The adult planthopper wing arrangement is tent-like, meaning that the forewings are held over the insect abdomen in a tent configuration.

Nymph of the citrus flatid planthopper, Metcalfa  pruinosa (Say). Credits: Photograph by: Lyle J. Buss,  University of Florida
Nymph of the citrus flatid planthopper, Metcalfa
pruinosa (Say). Credits: Photograph by: Lyle J. Buss,
University of Florida

The nymph, young immature insect, produces the white woolly material that is characteristic of CFP. At first sight, they can be mistaken for mealy bugs, which may look similar since they are covered with cottony white filaments. They can also be mistaken for cottony cushion scale.

Mealybugs. Credits: James Castner, University of Florida
Mealybugs. Credits: James Castner, University
of Florida
Cottony cushion scales, Icerya purchasi, on twig. Credits: James Castner, University of Florida
Cottony cushion scales, Icerya purchasi, on twig.
Credits: James Castner, University of Florida

 

In both of these cases of mistaken identities, the insect will not jump or hop around. No chemical control is necessary although sooty mold can occur on heavily populated plants. In that case, a soapy water treatment can be applied.

Follow these links to more information on the citrus flatid planthopper, mealy bugs, and cottony-cushion scale.

 

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Posted: June 17, 2014


Category: Horticulture
Tags: General Gardening, Insect, Insects, Landscape, Ornamental Shrubs, Panhandle Gardening, Pest, Pests


Comments:

Rosebud
September 13, 2021

I thought a 10% bleach solution was 9 parts water, 1 part bleach.

تمريض منزلي
August 25, 2021

i like this post about Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, thanks for this great info

Andrew Barnett
August 24, 2021

To pay for college, always submit the FAFSA first. Accept grants, scholarships and work-study before student loans. Learn who the loan borrower is, how the funds get to the school, what to do if you are not approved for a private loan, and more.

تمريض منزلي
June 29, 2021

i like this article about March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, thanks for sharing this info and advice you sharing

C;eve Thomas
November 24, 2020

I have acreage in wakulla county florida and would like information on planting an orange grove. I am new to citrus farming and would like to know where to buy sat suma trees for planting and any other information available on planting and care of these types of trees, please advise

Dennis Hancock
August 12, 2016

Great article! For the record, Dr. Bill Anderson conducted the research in Tifton. I was a collaborator, but it was Bill and his crew that put in the sweat equity.

Esther de Pedro
March 19, 2016

Do you have a similar for dog fennels? Thank you in advance.

Bob
July 30, 2015

Thanks for these good suggestions, Alex.

Jan Summerford
June 20, 2014

Alex, I really appreciate your professional guidance. To the average person something like this causes panic just based on their look. A white, woolly mass is a great description for them! And as usual, you didn't make me wait for the help I needed! Thanks!

Dixie
March 26, 2014

The pictures located at http://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/hort/2014/03/25/titi-in-bloom-this-spring/ are hyperlinked, but when I click on them I receive the following error: 404 - File or directory not found. The resource you are looking for might have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable. Could you please correct this oversight? Thanks. Dixie I.

Matthew Orwat
December 9, 2013

Snails feed on plants but are not harmful to the garden unless present in large quantities. It is probably looking for a place to over winter. Bring a sample to your nearest extension office for ID.

Jim
December 8, 2013

Good morning. We found a small snail in the driveway here where we live in N.W. Florida. What do these snails eat? Are they harmful to plants?

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