Mealy Bug Destroyers are imported help that has successfully controlled a pest, making plants everywhere very happy.
Adult Mealybug Destroyers look like spotless black lady beetles that have brown heads. If these adults are present in your garden, they are doing your plants a great service. This species was deliberately imported from Australia in 1892 to help control mealybug infestations in California citrus groves. Mealybugs are cottony looking insects that suck a plant's juices, weakening them, possibly to death. Their abundance was having an economic impact in the agricultural industry. The introduction of the Mealybug Destroyer was successful and these days it is bred and sold everywhere in North America.
The white larvae of the Mealybug Destroyer are more conspicuous than adults. They are sometimes mistaken for Mealybugs themselves because of the similarities in appearance. The tiny Mealybug Destroyer Larva has what almost look like curly tentacles or appendages extending from a dark body. The nefarious mealybug is almost white as well, but it has straight, stiff white white hairs projecting from its sides. Mealybugs can also grow long, thin tails; the beneficial Mealybug Destroyer larva does not. Young Mealybug Destroyers are extremely useful in aphid pest management as well as mealybug control. Learning to tell the two insects apart benefits both the gardener and the plant.
Scientific Name: Cryptolaemus montrouzieri
Other Name(s): Mealybug Destroyer
Size (Adult; Length): 2mm to 6mm (0.08in to 0.23in)
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Antennae: Beetles have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and mandibles (jaws).
Thorax: Holds the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
Elytron: One of two wing cases on a Beetle that protects its wings (plural: elytra).
Wings: Appendages used for flying and kept under the elytra until needed.
Abdomen: Houses organs related to circulation, reproduction, and excretion.
Legs: Beetles have three pairs of legs located at the thorax, numbering six legs in all.