Fat & Sassy Sucker

timrod98(8)May 8, 2011

I found this goblin on one of my Meyer Lemons yesterday. I've seen them over the years but never really made a "scientific" ID. Not that it changes how I deal with these "guys" ... Insecticidal Soap & Neem Oil ... but I'm curious if y'all can ID it for me so I will be knowledgeable in future conversations.



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Try 'mealy bug'.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 3:11PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Hmmmm. I'm not so sure that it's a mealybug, but perhaps a cottony cushion scale insect. A different picture might help. Also, some of that foliage in that image appears to be speckly. What's the deal with that? Have the plants ever had black sooty mold?

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 3:28PM
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As I understand it, "mealybug" is just another, less specific name for Cottony Cushion Scale and other soft-shelled scale insects.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 9:23PM
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The "mealybugs" I have seen over the years were much smaller than this guy. Maybe this is a giant!!
Yes ... I have had problems with, what I believe is, Black Sooty Mold. What is the typical remedy and prevention?



    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 12:28AM
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noss(Zone 9a Lafayette, LA)

Could it be a lacewing baby? I can't see the photos well enough to focus on the bug. It's kind of large for scale, isn't it, or is the tree tiny?

It looks too light to be a lacewing baby. They stick pieces of debris onto their little bodies to camouflage themselves so they can sneak up on unsuspecting pests for a meal. Sometimes, they even stick ants to their backs. I wonder if they use ants to fool aphids into thinking they're safe because ants tend to aphids, so the aphids wouldn't be wary of something with ants on it. That's really amazing to me.

They are so interesting to watch. I saw one on the edge of a pot that a fig tree was in and I picked it up on a twig and tried to make it get off onto a fig leaf, but it rolled over onto its back onto the leaf and some of its debris scraped off on the hairs on the fig leaf, so I herded it back over to the little pile of debris and when it got to the debris, stopped and started picking it up and re-sticking it onto its back. It was so cute.


    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 3:32AM
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The tree/plant is "good" size and approx 15 yrs old. If I didn't prune it it would probably stand 6+ feet or more.
The size of the "Monster" is approx the size of a pencil eraser...maybe a bit bigger. Found another this morning.. sprayed with Neem Oil.



    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 11:41AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Mealybug is a common epithet used for a specific genera of insects, but not scale insects. Mealies belong to the same order (Homoptera) as scale (and aphids, cicada, leaf hoppers, etc), and even the same Superfamily, Coccoidea. However they branch off on their own after that. Mealybugs are listed under the Family name Pseudococcidae. The scale insects belong to three or four different groups. Cottony scales, which I really think is imaged by the original poster, belongs to Margarodidae.

The Cottony Cushion scale is common to citrus anywhere, and can also be found on a wide variety of other woody plants, as well. The 'cottony' part is the egg sac. The flat, disc shaped part on the top is the actual scale insect. These insects, with the egg sac, are about as big as a....(wait for it)....pencil eraser!

You need to keep a close eye on these gals (yes, GALS). You'll find it difficult to spot the crawlers that emerge from the egg sac. Personally, I would hand pick as many of the adults as you can locate. There are a big bunch of natural predators and parasites that will also help you in their control. Look for ladybugs and other predatory critters, frogs, birds, and itsy bitsy parasitic wasps.

As far as the black sooty mold goes, you need to determine what kind of insect or insects is producing all of the honeydew that this simple black mold feeds on. In your case, the scale insects are a good bet. The soft scale do produce honeydew. Other likely culprits would be aphids, leaf hoppers, and mealybugs.

The remedy is to get rid of, or at least control, the insects. The prevention is to inspect your tree regularly and apply your Neem as required. You can also use other horticultural oils. The black sooty mold will flake off on its own once the food source (honey dew) is no longer present.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 12:22PM
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Hey rhizo,
thanks for the info. I have had, what appears to be, Black Sooty Mold for many years now. Kinda comes and goes (probably when I treat with Insecticidal Soap or Neem). I have also had the Mold appear on my Gardenias.
Always on the lookout for pests...Scale, Hoppers....
Thanks again...

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 10:13PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Chronic black sooty mold isn't good for our plants. Though the stuff isn't a pathogen that infects the plants, the black mold makes it difficult for photosynthesis to occur.

Learning to recognize those pest insects that are the direct cause of the sticky honey-dew that the BSM grows on is important. Then, you can select the appropriate means of control.

I can say with some certainty that the culprit on your gardenias is whitefly. I don't know where you are in the world, in much of the warmer parts of the US, if you have gardenias, you will have whiteflies. And if you have whiteflies, you will have BSM. If not whitefly, look for scale insects.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 1:56PM
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Hey Rhizo...you are spot-on!!!! I recall HOSTS of Whitefly rising up when the Gardenia got disturbed. Good call. I am going to be "inspecting" more often and treating earlier rather than later.
Thanks for the info.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2011 at 6:37AM
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And squishing those suckers (top pic) is like popping a giant bloody puss filled pimple. My Gold Nugget got some bad and I spent some time picking them off by hand and made a mess of them. Those "gals" are fat bloated baby makers that aren't very mobile. I only sprayed oil once a few days later for the young'ens and they haven't returned.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 4:43AM
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Squash, pick and SPRay!!!! words to live by...htp

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 2:54PM
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