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Dr. Ru Ngyuen
Agriculture Press Release
October 10, 2000
Crawford Announces New Biological Control of Plant Pest
TALLAHASSEE – Florida Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford today announced that new biological controls will be used to combat one of Florida’s newest plant pests, the papaya mealybug.
Scientists with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry, along with scientists from the United States Department of Agriculture, today will begin releasing in the Bradenton area four species of parasites to combat Paracoccus marginatus, commonly known as papaya mealybug. These parasites pose no threat to people, plants or any insects other than the papaya mealybug. Scientists will also establish a parasite- release operation in the Miami area.
The papaya mealybug was discovered in the Caribbean in 1994. It was first collected in Florida in 1998 and has now been found in Alachua, Brevard, Broward, Collier, Dade, Hillsborough, Manatee, Martin, Palm Beach and Volusia counties. Since its introduction into Florida, it has been collected 80 times in 30 different cities on 18 species of host plants, including several economically important crops such as papaya, citrus, yams, cassava and hibiscus. The papaya mealybug is a sap-sucking insect which is typically observed as clusters of small soft-bodied insects in cotton-like masses covering buds, stems and fruit, which if not controlled can devastate the plant.
The Department often uses techniques such as integrated pest management, classical biological control and sterile insect technique as alternates or substitutes for chemical controls. The parasite-release operations will take approximately six months to show results.