EPPO Global Database

Maconellicoccus hirsutus(PHENHI)

EPPO Datasheet: Maconellicoccus hirsutus

Last updated: 2021-10-01


Preferred name: Maconellicoccus hirsutus
Authority: (Green)
Taxonomic position: Animalia: Arthropoda: Hexapoda: Insecta: Hemiptera: Sternorrhyncha: Pseudococcidae
Other scientific names: Phenacoccus hirsutus Green
Common names in English: hibiscus mealybug, pink hibiscus mealybug, pink mealybug
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Notes on taxonomy and nomenclature

Maconellicoccus hirsutus was originally described from specimens collected in India as Phenacoccus hirsutus by Green (1908). It was subsequently designated as the type species of the genus Maconellicoccus by Ezzat (1958). Eight species are currently recognized in the genus Maconellicoccus.

EPPO Categorization: A2 list
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HOSTS 2021-09-22

Maconellicoccus hirsutus is highly polyphagous, feeding on a wide range of predominantly woody plants assigned to 222 genera in 78 families, including many crops and ornamentals (García Morales et al., 2016). It shows some preference for plants in the families Fabaceae, Malvaceae and Moraceae (Mani, 1989; Chang & Miller, 1996; Garland, 1998).  Many of the recorded hosts are tropical plants that are hardly or not cultivated in the EPPO region. Other recorded crop plants which could be of significance for the EPPO region are avocado, banana, cherimoya, citrus, cotton, fig, grapevine, guava, and mulberry. M. hirsutus has also been recorded on several rosaceous crops including apple, apricot, peach, pear and plum, but there appears to be no impact recorded on these hosts. The ornamental Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is a major host which is often severely affected. A comprehensive list of hosts is provided by García Morales et al. (2016).

Host list: Abelmoschus esculentus, Ananas comosus, Annona cherimola, Annona muricata, Annona squamosa, Anthurium andraeanum, Arachis hypogaea, Asparagus officinalis, Averrhoa carambola, Beta vulgaris, Boehmeria nivea, Cajanus cajan, Capsicum annuum, Capsicum frutescens, Carica papaya, Centrolobium paraense, Ceratonia siliqua, Chenopodium album, Citrus reticulata, Citrus x aurantium var. paradisi, Citrus x aurantium var. sinensis, Citrus x aurantium, Citrus, Coccoloba uvifera, Cocos nucifera, Coffea arabica, Coffea canephora, Colocasia esculenta, Cosmos, Cucumis sativus, Cucurbita maxima, Cucurbita pepo, Diospyros kaki, Erythrina variegata, Euphorbia pulcherrima, Ficus benjamina, Ficus carica, Glycine max, Gossypium hirsutum, Grevillea robusta, Helianthus annuus, Heliconia, Heptapleurum actinophyllum, Hevea brasiliensis, Hibiscus cannabinus, Hibiscus mutabilis, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, Hibiscus sabdariffa, Hibiscus schizopetalus, Hibiscus tiliaceus, Inga edulis, Ipomoea batatas, Ixora chinensis, Ixora, Jatropha curcas, Lactuca sativa, Malpighia glabra, Malus domestica, Malus sylvestris, Mangifera indica, Manihot esculenta, Manilkara zapota, Mimosa caesalpiniifolia, Mimosa hostilis, Morus alba, Murraya koenigii, Mussaenda erythrophylla, Nephelium lappaceum, Nerium oleander, Opuntia, Passiflora edulis, Persea americana, Phaseolus vulgaris, Phoenix dactylifera, Phoenix sylvestris, Prunus armeniaca, Prunus domestica, Prunus persica, Psidium guajava, Punica granatum, Pyrus communis, Ricinus communis, Solanum americanum, Solanum lycopersicum, Solanum melongena, Spondias mombin, Spondias tuberosa, Talinum paniculatum, Tectona grandis, Theobroma bicolor, Theobroma cacao, Theobroma grandiflorum, Theobroma speciosum, Vitis vinifera, Ziziphus mauritiana


Maconellicoccus hirsutus is probably native to Southern Asia, and has spread worldwide in tropical and subtropical regions (Martins et al., 2019).

EPPO Region: Cyprus, Greece (mainland), Israel, Jordan, Tunisia, Türkiye
Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Congo, Democratic republic of the, Cote d'Ivoire, Egypt, Gabon, Gambia, Kenya, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Reunion, Senegal, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia
Asia: Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China (Aomen (Macau), Guangdong, Shanxi, Xianggang (Hong Kong), Xizhang, Yunnan), India (Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal), Indonesia (Irian Jaya, Java, Nusa Tenggara, Sulawesi, Sumatra), Iran, Israel, Japan (Ryukyu Archipelago), Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia (West), Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Yemen
North America: Mexico, United States of America (Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas)
Central America and Caribbean: Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Saint Lucia, St Kitts-Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Virgin Islands (British), Virgin Islands (US)
South America: Brazil (Alagoas, Bahia, Espirito Santo, Maranhao, Mato Grosso, Para, Pernambuco, Rio Grande do Sul, Roraima, Santa Catarina, Sao Paulo), Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela
Oceania: Australia (Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia), Fiji, Guam, Micronesia, New Caledonia, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu

BIOLOGY 2021-09-22

The life cycle of M. hirsutus has been studied in India (Mani, 1989). Each adult female lays 150–600 eggs over a period of about one week, and these hatch in 6–9 days. Females have three nymphal instars, and the males have four. The final two male nymph instars (called prepupa and pupa) are usually sessile and do not feed. Temperatures most favorable for the development and reproduction of M. hirsutus are 25 to 27 °C, and the thermal thresholds for female development are 14.5 °C (T min) and 29 °C (T max) (Chong et al., 2008). A generation is completed in about five weeks in warm conditions. In countries with a cool winter, the species survives cold conditions as eggs (Bartlett, 1978) or other stages, both on the host plant and in the soil (Pollard, 1995). There may be as many as 15 generations per year (Pollard, 1995). First-instar nymphs, known as ‘crawlers’, disperse by walking to other parts of the same plant or are carried further on the wind or by other means (e.g., animals, humans, vehicles or water). Crawlers settle in cracks and crevices, usually on new growth which becomes severely stunted and distorted, and in which densely packed colonies develop. Reproduction is mostly parthenogenetic in Egypt (Hall, 1921) and Bihar, India (Singh & Ghosh, 1970), or bi-parental in West Bengal, India (Ghose, 1971b; 1972a) and probably in the Caribbean (Williams, 1996).

Infestations of M. hirsutus are often associated with attendant ants, which feed on the honeydew egested by the mealybugs (Ghose, 1970; Mani, 1989; Halaybeh & Katbeh-Bader, 2010).



Infested growing points become distorted, stunted, and swollen. These symptoms vary according to the susceptibility of each host species. In highly susceptible plants, even brief probing of unexpanded leaves by the mealybug stylets causes severe crumpling of the leaves, and heavy infestation can cause defoliation, dieback and even death of the plant. As the plant dies back, the mealybugs migrate to healthy tissue, so the colonies migrate from shoot tips to twigs to branches and finally down the trunk. The mealybugs themselves are in general readily visible, though sometimes they are hidden in the distorted and swollen growth, or beneath the wax ovisacs. Infested plants may also be covered in sticky honeydew egested by the mealybugs, which serves as a medium for the growth of black sooty moulds. The honeydew may also attract attendant ants (Ghose, 1970; Mani, 1989).


Eggs are oval and pink. The first instars or crawlers are 0.3 mm long, pink; immature females and newly matured females greyish-pink, dusted with mealy white wax; adult female 2.5–4 mm long, soft-bodied, elongate oval and slightly flattened. The entire colony tends to become covered by white, waxy ovisac material.

Maconellicoccus hirsutus can only be accurately identified by examination of slide-mounted adult females under a compound light microscope. A taxonomic key to all the species of Maconellicoccus is provided by Williams (1996) and there is an EPPO diagnostic protocol available for M. hirsutus (EPPO, 2006). M. hirsutus may be recognized by the presence of the following suite of characters: 9-segmented antennae, anal lobe bars, numerous dorsal oral rim ducts on all parts of the body except the limbs and long, and flagellate dorsal setae. This makes the species fairly easy to recognize in parts of the world where other Maconellicoccus species do not occur, such as Europe and the Americas. Adult males have a single pair of wings, long antennae, a pair of white wax filaments projecting posteriorly from the abdomen and no mouthparts.

Detection and inspection methods

All developmental stages of M. hirsutus can be found by visual inspection of plant material, especially on the growing points, buds, flowers, and fruit. Large infestations may become covered by the white, sticky, elastic, woolly, waxy ovisacs. If the sticky wax is parted with a needle and examined with a x10 hand lens, clusters of eggs and females become visible.

One of the commonest, preferred hosts of M. hirsutus is Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, and this is a good plant to monitor for early detection of the arrival of the pest.


Natural spread of M. hirsutus, by the first instars crawling or being carried by wind, other animals, or machinery, occurs locally and relatively slowly. Faster and long-distance movement is likely to be due to adult females and immature stages being carried with plant material in trade, especially plants for planting. M. hirsutus may be transported with cut flowers and fresh fruit and vegetables, although the pest would have difficulty transferring to a suitable host due to their limited mobility.


Economic impact 

Maconellicoccus hirsutus is an invasive, highly polyphagous pest that has had a major economic impact in many tropical and subtropical regions. In India, M. hirsutus has been recorded causing economic damage to a range of crops including: cotton (Dhawan et al., 1980; Muralidharan & Badaya, 2000); the fibre crops Hibiscus sabdariffa, Hibiscus cannabinus and Boehmeria nivea (Ghose, 1961; 1971a; Singh & Ghosh, 1970; Raju et al., 1988); grapevine (Manjunath, 1985); mulberry (Rao et al., 1993); pigeonpea (Patel et al., 1990); and Ziziphus mauritiana (Balikai & Bagali, 2000).

Maconellicoccus hirsutus has also had a major economic impact in the Americas. It was first detected in 1993 on the island of Grenada (Michaud & Evans, 2000), where the annual losses were estimated to be 3.5 million USD, before establishment of biological control (François, 1996). Similar losses have been estimated in several other Caribbean islands. Various crops including Annona spp., Spondias spp., okra, mango and sorrel, and ornamentals which are valued by the tourist industry have been attacked, and also important forest trees such as Hibiscus elatus and Tectona grandis (Pollard, 1995; Peters & Watson, 1999; Kairo et al., 2000). Affected countries suffered serious loss of trade because other countries would not accept shipments of agricultural produce from them (Peters & Watson, 1999). If the mealybug were to spread across the Southern USA, it is estimated that it could cause losses of 750 million USD per year (Moffit, 1999).

Williams (1996) notes that almost all serious damage by M. hirsutus has been recorded between 7° and 30° North, where there are reports of seasonal differences in the incidence of the pest.


Plant protection products are of limited effectiveness against M. hirsutus because of its habit of hiding in crevices, and the waxy covering of its body (Williams, 1996). In India, most granular insecticides are ineffective against M. hirsutus (Mani, 1989); and systemic insecticides are only used to control heavy infestations. Inorganic oil emulsion sprays gave good control of M. hirsutus on guava. Any insecticide used against M. hirsutus should be carefully selected to avoid injury to its natural enemies. IPM using both coccinellid beetle predators and insecticides (dichlorvos and chlorpyrifos) has been achieved on grapevine (Mani, 1989).

Biological control by release of natural enemies has proved highly effective in the management of M. hirsutus. The coccinellid predator Cryptolaemus montrouzieri has been used successfully to reduce large populations of M. hirsutus in India (Mani & Krishnamoorthy, 2001) and the Caribbean (Kairo et al., 2000). In Egypt, however, C. montrouzieri was unable to survive the cold winters in sufficient numbers to be effective over the long term, and the main biological control agents used are the hymenopteran parasitoids Anagyrus kamali and Achrysopophagus sp. (Bartlett, 1978). The great success of the biological control programmes against M. hirsutus in the Caribbean, using C. montrouzieri and the endoparasitoids A. kamali and Gyranusoidea indica, is largely attributable to these insects reproducing at least twice as fast as the mealybug (Pollard, 1995; Garland, 1998; Michaud & Evans, 2000; Kairo et al., 2000; Persad & Khan, 2002; Meyerdirk & DeChi, 2005); populations were reduced by 82-97%, and the parasitoids were found to be effective in tropical, subtropical and semi-desert conditions. It was also important to use public awareness programmes to reduce the use of plant protection products that could adversely affect the biological control agents (Kairo et al., 2000).

Limited information is available on host-plant resistance or on methods of cultural control.

Phytosanitary risk

M. hirsutus was added in 2012 to the EPPO A2 list of pests recommended for regulation as a quarantine pest (A2 pests are locally present in the EPPO region), and EPPO member countries at risk are recommended to regulate it as a quarantine pest. It is a quarantine pest in several countries and is also of regulatory interest to other Regional Plant Protection Organizations (e.g. COSAVE, EAEU and NAPPO).

In the EPPO region, M. hirsutus presents a potential risk to a range of crops, ornamentals and amenity plants including avocado, banana, cherimoya, citrus, cotton, fig, grapevine, guava, hibiscus, and mulberry. There is also a possibility that it could affect glasshouse crops in more northern countries. In addition, its presence in a country may create difficulties for the export of planting material.


There are a range of phytosanitary measures that may be taken to reduce the risk of introduction and spread of M. hirsutus including: pre-export inspections to ensure that consignments of plants for planting are pest free; sourcing imports from pest free areas or in a pest-free place of production; phytosanitary certificates and plant passports; chemical treatments on crops including reproductive material; physical treatments on consignments or during processing; heat and cold treatments; and post-entry quarantine (PEQ).

REFERENCES 2021-09-22

Balikai RA & Bagali AN (2000) Population density of mealybug, Maconellicoccus hirsutus on ber (Zizyphus mauritiana) and economic losses. Agricultural Science Digest 20, 62–63.

Bartlett BR (1978) Pseudococcidae. In: Introduced Parasites and Predators of Arthropod Pests and Weeds: a World Review (Ed. Clausen CP), pp. 137–170. Agriculture Handbook no. 480. USDA, Washington (US).

CABI/EPPO (2004) Maconellicoccus hirsutus. Distribution Maps of Plant Pests, no. 100. CAB International, Wallingford (GB).

Chang LWH & Miller CE (1996) Pathway Risk Assessment: Pink mealybug from the Caribbean. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture 61 pp.

Chong JH, Roda AL & Mannion CM (2008) Life history of the mealybug, Maconellicoccus hirsutus (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae), at constant temperatures. Environmental Entomology 37, 323–332. 

Dhawan AK, Joginder Singh & Sidhu AS (1980) Maconellicoccus sp. attacking arboreum cotton in Punjab. Science and Culture 46, 258.

EPPO (2006) EPPO Standards PM 7/70 (1) Maconellicoccus hirsutus. EPPO Bulletin 36(1) 167-169.

Ezzat YM (1958) Maconellicoccus hirsutus (Green), a new genus, with redescription of the species [Homoptera: Pseudococcidae-Coccoidea]. Bulletin de la Société Entomologique d'Egypte 42,377-383.

François B (1996) Measuring the impact of mealybug infestation. Proceedings of the First Symposium on the Hibiscus Mealybug in the Caribbean, 24–27 June 1996, Grenada.

García Morales M, Denno BD, Miller DR, Miller GL, Ben-Dov Y, Hardy NB (2016) ScaleNet: a literature-based model of scale insect biology and systematics. Database. https://doi.org/10.1093/database/bav118 - http://scalenet.info (accessed 25 July 2021).

Garland JA (1998) Pest Risk Assessment of the pink mealybug Maconellicoccus hirsutus (Green), with particular reference to Canadian greenhouses. PRA 96–21. Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Ottawa (CA).

Ghose SK (1961) Studies of some coccids (Coccoidea: Hemiptera) of economic importance in West Bengal, India. Indian Agriculturist 5, 57–78.

Ghose SK (1970) Predators, parasites and attending ants of the mealybug, Maconellicoccus hirsutus. Plant Protection Bulletin, India 22, 22–30.

Ghose SK (1971a) Assessment of loss in yield of seeds of roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa var. altissima) due to the mealy-bug, Maconellicoccus hirsutus. Indian Journal of Agricultural Sciences 41, 360–362.

Ghose SK (1971b) Morphology of various instars of both sexes of the mealy-bug, Maconellicoccus hirsutus. Indian Journal of Agricultural Sciences 41, 602–611.

Green EE (1908) Remarks on Indian scale insects (Coccidae), Part III. With a catalogue of all species hitherto recorded from the Indian continent. Memoirs of the Department of Agriculture in India, Entomology Series 2, 15-46. 

Halayeh M & Katbeh-Bader A (2010) The Pink Hibiscus Mealybug, Maconellicoccus hirsutus (Green), a new pest on Guava trees in Jordan (Hemiptera, Sternorrhyncha, Pseudococcidae). Cesa News 56, 67-71

Hall WJ (1921) The hibiscus mealy bug (Phenacoccus hirsutus). Bulletin Ministry of Agriculture Egypt Technical and Scientific Service Entomological Section 17, 1–28.

Kairo MTK, Pollard GV, Peterkin DD & Lopez VF (2000) Biological control of the hibiscus mealybug, Maconellicoccus hirsutus in the Caribbean. Integrated Pest Management Reviews 5, 241–254.

Mani M (1989) A review of the pink mealybug – Maconellicoccus hirsutus. Insect Science and its Application 10, 157–167.

Mani M & Krishnamoorthy A (2001) Suppression of Maconellicoccus hirsutus on guava. Insect Environment 6, 152.

Manjunath TM (1985) India – Maconellicoccus hirsutus on grapevine. FAO Plant Protection Bulletin 33, 74.

Martins DS, Fornazier MJ, Peronti ALBG, Culik MP, Souza, CAS, Taques RC, Zanuncio Junior, JS & Queiroz RB (2019) Maconellicoccus hirsutus (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) in Brazil: recent spread, natural enemies, and new hosts. Florida Entomologist 102(2), 438-443. 

Meyerdirk DE & DeChi LW (2005) Models for minimizing risks of dangerous pests: the pink hibiscus mealybug and papaya mealybug, In: Proceedings 39th Annual Meeting: "Food Production, Marketing and Safety: Strategies for Caribbean Food Security".July 13-19, 2003, St. Gerorge’s, Grenada, W.I. Pub. Caribbean Food Crops Society, in press

Michaud JP & Evans GA (2000) Current status of pink hibiscus mealybug in Puerto Rico including a key to parasitoid species. Florida Entomologist 83, 97–101.

Moffit LJ (1999) Economic risk to United States agriculture of pink hibiscus mealybug invasion. Report to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, United States Department of Agriculture. USDA/APHIS, Beltsville (US).

Muralidharan CM & Badaya SN (2000) Mealy bug (Maconellicoccus hirsutus) outbreak on herbaceum cotton (Gossypium herbaceum) in Wagad cotton belt of Kachch. Indian Journal of Agricultural Sciences 70, 705–706.

Patel IS, Dodia DA & Patel SN (1990) First record of Maconellicoccus hirsutus as a pest of pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan). Indian Journal of Agricultural Sciences 60, 645.

Persad A & Khan A (2000) The effect of five insecticides on Maconellicoccus hirsutus (Green) (Homoptera: Pseudococcidae) and its natural enemies Anagyrus kamali Moursi (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae), and Cryptolaemus montrouzieri Mulsant and Scymnus coccivora Aiyar (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). International Pest Control 42(5), 170-173.

Peters T & Watson GW (1999) The biological control of Hibiscus mealybug in Grenada. In: Paths to Prosperity: Science and Technology in the Commonwealth 1999/2000 (Ed. Bell K), pp. 130–132. Kensington Publications, London (GB).

Pollard GV (1995) Pink or hibiscus mealybug in the Caribbean. CARAPHIN News 12, 1–2.

Raju AK, Rao PRM, Apparao RV, Readdy AS & Rao KKP (1988) Note on estimation of losses in yield of mesta due to mealy bug, Maconellicoccus hirsutus. Jute Development Journal 8, 34–35.

Rao AA, Teotia RS, Chauhan SS, Chakraborty S & Rao GS (1993) Studies on the seasonal incidence of the mealy bug (Maconellicoccus hirsutus) causing ‘tukra’ on mulberry in West Bengal. Indian Journal of Sericulture 32, 111–113.

Singh MP & Ghosh SN (1970) Studies on Maconellicoccus hirsutus causing ‘bunchy top’ in mesta. Indian Journal of Science and Industry A 4, 99–105.

Williams DJ (1996) A brief account of the hibiscus mealybug Maconellicoccus hirsutus, a pest of agriculture and horticulture, with descriptions of two related species from southern Asia. Bulletin of Entomological Research 86, 617–628.

CABI resources used when preparing this datasheet

CABI Datasheet on Maconellicoccus hirsutus. https://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/40171


This datasheet was extensively revised in 2021 by Chris Malumphy, Fera Science Ltd. His valuable contribution is gratefully acknowledged.

How to cite this datasheet?

EPPO (2024) Maconellicoccus hirsutus. EPPO datasheets on pests recommended for regulation. https://gd.eppo.int (accessed 2024-04-12)

Datasheet history 2021-09-22

This datasheet was first published in the EPPO Bulletin in 2005 and is now maintained in an electronic format in the EPPO Global Database. The sections on 'Identity', ‘Hosts’, and 'Geographical distribution' are automatically updated from the database. For other sections, the date of last revision is indicated on the right.

EPPO (2005) Maconellicoccus hirsutus. Datasheets on quarantine pests. EPPO Bulletin 35(3), 413-415. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2338.2005.00903.x