NC State Extension Publications

Description and Biology

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The striped mealybug, Ferresia virgata, is one of the showier mealybugs. Females are up to 3/16 inches long, and covered with a fluffy, white secretion except for two dark stripes down the back. This mealybug also has slender, clear, hairlike secretions protruding through the fluff as well as two noticeable, white, tail filaments. Males have two wings, long antennae, well developed legs, and a pair of long, white filaments at the rear. Males do not have mouthparts and live only three or four days. Over a period of 20 to 29 days, each females lays 64 to 737 eggs on a pad of fluffy filaments beneath her. Eggs hatch 30 minutes to 4 hours later. Female nymphs molt three times and male nymphs molt four times before molting into the adult stage a month or two later. Striped mealybugs often cluster around terminal shoots and leaves. During cold weather, females crawl down into the soil beneath their host plants

Closeup photo shows entire body including clear, hair-like strands

Striped mealybugs have two stripes down the back and clear, hair-like strands.

Many striped mealybugs on azalea with visible sooty molds on twigs.

Striped mealybugs may become obnoxiously abundant.

Host Plants

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Striped mealybugs have been reported from over over 203 genera of plants in 77 families including field crops, vegetable crops, fruit crops, and ornamental crops. In North Carolina, we have seen it primarily on landscape azaleas and yaupon holly. Heavy infestations result in yellowing, withering and dieback of plants as well as premature leaf drop. They sometimes excrete enough honeydew to disfigure foliage with resulting sooty molds. Sooty molds sometimes become so dense that they reduce photosynthesis and plant vigor.

Residential Recommendations

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Striped mealybugs are plagued with a number of parasitic wasps, lady beetles, and other predaceous insects. Even so at times these mealybugs are overlooked by beneficial insects and may threaten the beauty and health of their host plants. Striped mealybugs are susceptible to most insecticides labeled for residential landscape use although two or three applications may be necessary because these mealybugs even retreat into the soil during the winter.


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For assistance with a specific problem, contact your local N.C. Cooperative Extension Center.

This Factsheet has not been peer reviewed.


Professor Emeritus
Entomology and Plant Pathology

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Publication date: Jan. 27, 2018
Revised: Nov. 4, 2022

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