mealybug, common name for certain unarmored scale insects that exude a granular white secretion, giving them a mealy appearance. Many are common greenhouse and crop pests. Adult females are wingless, with oval, segmented bodies and well-developed legs. The females and young feed on various parts of plants with their sucking mouthparts. Adult males have no mouthparts and do not feed. In egg-laying species the female produces several hundred eggs in a mass covered with waxy threads. In other species the young are born alive. The most serious pests are mealybugs that feed on citrus; other species damage sugarcane, grapes, pineapple, coffee trees, ferns, and orchids. Mealybugs are classified in the phylum Arthropoda, class Insecta, order Homoptera, family Pseudococcidae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Zoology: Invertebrates