Short Tailed Mealybug (Pseudococcus spp.)

Short Tailed Mealybug
  • Common Name: Short Tailed Mealybug
  • Order Name: Homoptera
  • Family Name: Pseudococcidae

Homoptera are similar to the Hemiptera true bugs. In addition to differences in the origin of their sucking mouthparts, Homoptera have a uniformly thickened forewings that overlap slightly at the tips. Homoptera groups include cicadas, leaf hoppers, whiteflies, aphids and scale insects.

These two long legged formic acid ant are harvesting a sweet meal from a herd of accommodating mealy bugs on a sisal plant (Agave sisalana) on Kauai. Mealybugs are cryptic insects covered with a white waxy powder. They feed in groups by puncturing the leaves and sucking out a meal of plant juice. After dining they secrete a sweet substance called honeydew that the ant are attracted to. Males have a single pair of wings and fly to diverse their populations. Mealybugs are topical insects and feed on a variety of tropical plants such as ginger and heleconia. Ants facilitate spreading the mealybug populations to new plants, which in sufficient numbers, can weaken the plants.