Updated due to misidentification, please see real article p_jackbe.htm
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Pseudococcus jackbeardsleyi Gimpel and Miller

Jack Beardsley mealybug
Hosts Distribution Damage Biology Behavior Management Reference


Ronald F.L. Mau, Extension Entomologist

Jayma L. Martin Kessing, Educational Specialist

Department of Entomology

Honolulu, Hawaii


The Jack Beardsley mealybug attacks a wide range of host plants, including: banana, aglaonema, dieffenbachia, tomato, potato, pepper, hibiscus, anthurium, orchids, floral ginger, Annona, dracaena, and ivy gourd.


What was originally identified as the banana mealybug, Pseudococcus elisae, in Hawai`i (Beardsley 1986) has been newly described as the Jack Beardsley mealybug, in 1996 by Gimpel and Miller.  While the banana mealybug is common on banana, aglaonema, and dieffenbachia, it is apparently restricted to Central America,  northern South America, and Florida.

The Jack Beardsley mealybug is distributed throughout the neotropical region and a few countries in southern Asia (Williams and Watson, 1988). It has been on Oahu since 1984 and has spread throughout the Hawaiian Islands.


This mealybug feeds on many different hosts and is injurious in the absence of efficient natural enemies.


Mealybugs are divided into two groups: the short-tailed mealybugs and the long-tailed mealybugs. The short-tailed mealybugs reproduce by laying eggs and all the filaments about the body are about equal in length with none exceeding one-fourth the length of the body. The long-tailed mealybugs give birth to nymphs and have four long filaments at the tip of their abdomen which may be as long as their body. The Jack Beardsley mealybug is classified as a short-tailed mealybug. The life histories of all mealybugs are very similar and they differ only slightly in appearance. (Metcalf and Flint, 1962). The information given below for the immature stages is general for all mealybugs. It takes about 1 month for the completion of one generation (egg to adult) under greenhouse conditions (Metcalf and Flint, 1962).


Short-tailed mealybugs lay 300 to 600 eggs within a compact, cottony, waxy sac beneath their abdomen. Egg sacs are usually found at the base of branching stems or leaves but may be found elsewhere on the plant. In greenhouse conditions, the eggs hatch in about 10 days (Metcalf and Flint, 1962).


Nymphs remain in the egg sac for a day or two after hatching before crawling about the plant in search of food. Nymphs are light-yellow and six-legged with oval, flattened, and smooth bodies. Once feeding has begun, they secrete a white, waxy material that covers their body and produces approximately 36 leg-like filaments around the perimeter of the body. Females change only slightly in appearance, except for growing in size to about 1/6 to 1/4 inch when full grown. Both sexes have 3 larval stages (or instars); females become adults after the last molt and males go into a pupal stage (Metcalf and Flint, 1962).


Only males pupate. When the male nymphs are fully grown, they enclose themselves in a white case in which they develop into an adult male (Metcalf and Flint, 1962).


The body of the female Jack Beardsley mealybug is pinkish in color, oval in shape, and measures approximately 1/8 inch (2.8 mm) in length and 3/50 inch (1.5 mm) in breadth. Females are wingless throughout life (Metcalf and Flint, 1962). Because mealybugs are very small insects, species identification requires microscopic examination. Refer to Beardsley (1986) and Borkhsenius (1948) for detailed descriptions for microscope identification.

Egg production lasts for 1 or 2 weeks. Soon after egg production has stopped, the female mealybug dies (Metcalf and Flint, 1962).

Adult males mealybugs are tiny, active, two-winged, fly-like insects (Metcalf and Flint, 1962). They do not feed and die soon after they have mated.


Adult mealybugs are very sluggish crawlers.


Non-Chemical Control

Coccinellid beetles, like lady bugs, are general predators of all mealybugs. Little is known about the specific natural enemies of the Jack Beardsley mealybug, but it is believed that the predator complex is efficient because of the low incidence of infestation by this pest.

Applications of soaps and detergents are sometimes effective against mealybug pests.

Chemical Control

No information at this time


Beardsley, J.W. 1986. Taxonomic Notes on Pseudococcus elisae Borchsenius, a Mealybug New to the Hawaiian Fauna (Homoptera: Pseudococcidae). Proc. Hawaiian Entomol. Soc. 26: 31-34.

Gil, R. (ed.) 1996. Mealybugs: Name changes and new species information. Calif. Plant Pest & Disease Report. 15 (3 & 4).

Gimpel and W. & D. Miller. 1996. Systematic Analysis of the mealybugs in the Pseudococcus maritimus complex (Homoptera: Pseudococcidae). Contr. on Entom., International. Assoc. Publ.

Metcalf, C.L. and W.P. Flint. 1962. Destructive and Useful Insects Their Habits and Control, 4 th Edition (Revised by: R.L. Metcalf). Mc Graw-Hill Book Company; New York, San Francisco, Toronto, London. 1087 pages.

Williams, D.J. and G.W. Watson. 1988. The Scale Insects of the Tropical South Pacific Region Part 2 The Mealybugs (Pseudococcidae). CAB International Institute of Entomology. The Cambrian News Ltd., Aberystwyth.



Updated SEPT-25-2000 by Arnold Hara & Ruth Niino-DuPonte.




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