Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Attack of the destroyers

This mess is the by-product of a rampant mealybug infestation that is hitting the araucaria trees hard at the arboretum right now. They are losing lots of needles and branches over this.

See all the little white things all over this tree? You can click the picture to see them better. They are all juvenile Mealybug Destroyers, (Cryptolaemus montrouzieri), a beneficial insect that eats the mealybugs. Recently, they have been all over the trees in great numbers. I'm not sure if they're coming or going. They are of a size that they might be ready to pupate soon.

Their bodies are covered with white waxy secretions that resemble their mealybug prey. I couldn't find any actual mealybugs, just the mess all over the branches and stuff.

Here's a profile of a young destroyer on a pine needle. You can see his little legs.

There were also some adult mealybug destroyers, although nowhere close to the number of juveniles. This little beetle is a cousin of the lady bug family.
Pardon my fat pink finger :P

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