Mealybug Destroyer Beetle Establishment and Maintenance
Independent Study Projects and Opportunities
Several species of mealybugs (Planococcus sp.) are common insect pests in greenhouses throughout the world. They can be especially troublesome in greenhouses featuring permanent plant collections, resulting in the need for regular application of insecticides to prevent pest populations from becoming well-established.Fortunately, it has been document that Mealybug Destroyer Beetles (MDB) are effective predators of citrus mealybug, the most common greenhouse mealybug species. Where mealybug populations remain relatively high, MDB has been reported to become established in interiorscape settings for periods exceeding five years.
A test population of one hundred MBD adults were released in the greenhouse complex in March of 2008 and successfully reproduced several generations through at least midsummer of 2008.
However, as with many predatory species, when food sources decline as a result of successful predation, predators will disperse and/or die. The result is a loss of control agents, reestablishment of harmful species, and need to purchase new predators, which can be expensive and time-prohibitive.
- Describe, photograph, and quantify existing mealybug populations in EFB greenhouses.
- Describe, photograph, amd quantify introduced population of MDB (life stages, numbers, locations, preferred host plants, etc.)
- Develop protocol for rearing sustainable and highly efficacious population of MDB for regular release into EFB greenhouses.
Depending upon number of EFB 498 hours chosen, final class products may include one or more of the following:
- Conduct literature review of the implementation of MDB in greenhouse settings for the control of mealybug species.
- Descriptions and photographs (could be in video form) of mealybug species for use in training work-study assistants, volunteers and others in monitoring techniques for this pest.
- Develop, implement, and evaluate mealybug monitoring protocols.
- Assess status of MBD population remaining from initial 2008 release.
- Develop, implement and evaluate facility-specific protocol for rearing a sustainable population of MBD for regular release into the greenhouse complex.
- Conduct literature review of the selection of specific strains of MBD for increased efficacy in the control of greenhouse mealybug populations.