MEALYBUG DESTROYERS FACT SHEET & Release Instructions
DO NOT REFRIGERATE (Keep cool, but no lower than 50¡F.)
These tropical lady beetles are used for rapid knockdown of all species of above ground mealybugs, and will also feed on aphids and soft scales. Both adults and larvae are predatory. Immature beetles are similar in appearance to their prey, covered in a white, waxy material. Cryptolaemus is raised and released by the citrus industry in California and is credited with complete control of the citrus mealybug. They are also used to control grape mealybug in the Pacific Northwest and all species of mealybug and soft scale in conservatories and indoor plantscapes. Cryptolaemus are shipped as adult beetles and are provided with a food and water source to maintain them in transit, but they should be released as soon as possible.
The adult beetle is 1/8" long, black, with an orange head and "tail". The female lays her eggs among the cottony egg masses of mealybugs (long-tailed mealybugs give birth to living young so beetle egg laying may be restricted). Eggs hatch in 8-9 days at 69¡ F., 5-6 days at 80¡. The young larva sucks out the body contents of eggs and young nymphs, passing through four instars before pupating on nearby stems, leaf undersides, or structural supports. These larval stages are covered with a white, waxy material and when small, closely resemble their mealybug prey (the proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing). Check carefully before pruning off or spraying apparently mealybug-infested shoots. The larval stages of Cryptolaemus extend 17-24 days at 69¡, 12-17 days at 80¡, and the white pupal stages 14-20 days at 69¡ and 8-10 days at 80¡, for a total development time from egg to egg of approximately 54 days at 69¡ and 33 days at 80¡. Their activity threshold is 56¡, optimum temperature for egg laying and larval development is 71-77¡ at 70-80% humidity. During the winter months, lower temperatures and shorter day lengths appear to inhibit their activity more than it does the mealybugs, and control may be inadequate (making repeat releases necessary). Cryptolaemus needs fairly high mealybug populations to satisfy its requirements, and is best used as a quick knockdown agent for heavy mealybug infestations. In this case it is not necessary to reduce mealybug numbers before introduction unless only small numbers of beetles are to be released.
Cryptolaemus should be released at a rate of approximately 5 beetles per infested plant, or 5 per square yard of planted area. In orchards, the release rate is 1000-2000 beetles per acre of mature fruit trees. Release beetles in early morning or late evening when beetles are less active by shaking out close to mealybug infestations.
1. Control any ants in the area since these will protect mealybugs for their honeydew.
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