Practical problems and their solutions in studying the biology of the mealybug Paracoccus burnerae (Brain) (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae)
AbstractMealybugs are among the most widespread and important pests of plants in commercial glasshouses and conservatories. They are also important quarantine pests that hinder international trade of fruits, vegetables and ornamental plants. Studies on their biology are important because they attack a wide range of plants and are generally difficult to control. Some of the many problems generally encountered in studying their biology are: obtaining live specimens of the mealybugs, establishing the culture, keeping them isolated from other greenhouse plants, risks of contamination from natural enemies, other mealybug species and diseases in the greenhouse, feeding the mealybugs for prolonged periods in incubators, discolouration and rotting of rearing substrates, maintaining the right humidity inside the incubators, obtaining enough material from the field for observations over a 12 month period, obtaining their natural enemies from orchards regularly sprayed with insecticides, and combating vandalism in study orchards. Researchers often present impressive results of their studies on the biology of mealybugs and other scale insects without mentioning the problems they encountered and had to solve. In this paper, the practical problems encountered during a study of the biology of the oleander mealybug, Paracoccus burnerae (Brain), an endemic pest of citrus in South Africa, are discussed and solutions offered.
Keywords: Paracoccus burnerae, citrus, natural enemies, development, humidity, insect culture, parasitoids
African Journal of Biotechnology Vol. 12(23), pp. 3609-3614