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The Vine mealybug -

Planococcus ficus (Hem. Pseudococcidae)


Mealybugs are pests and virus vectors of grapevines in many regions of the world. Newly introduced into California the vine mealybug, Planococcus ficus (Homoptera; Pseudococcidae) damages vines, mainly table grapes, but could also become a major threat to figs, apples, citrus and tropical crops. Since 2005, EBCL is conducting foreign exploration for collecting natural enemies of the P. ficus complex in the Mediterranean basin where it is thought to originate.

This study firstly aims to collect additional natural enemies specific to VMB for future evaluation at EBCL and releases in California against local invasive populations of VMB, paying a particular attention to climate matching between Eurasian countries and California; Several parasitic wasps were collected: Anagyrus pseudococci (Girault, 1915) (Encyrtidae, Tetracneminae), Leptomastidea abnormis (Girault, 1915) (Encyrtidae, Tetracneminae), Coccidoxenoides perminutus (Girault, 1915) (Encyrtidae, Tetracneminae), Pachyneuron coccorum (Linnaeus, 1758) (Pteromalidae, Pteromalinae).

Secondly, to pinpoint the centre of origin of VMB by genetic characterization and phylogenetic studies in its native range, we sampled populations of VMB in 7 countries around the Mediterranean Basin resulting in about 50 accessions of VMB from the native range. Each population was identified morphologically as P. ficus. Genetic characterization will be conducted by Kent Daane and collaborators at Berkeley University.

Domestic cooperator:

Mike Pitcairn, CDFA, California.


Sforza R., Kirk A & W.A. Jones 2005. Results of foreign exploration for natural enemies of Planococcus ficus, a new invasive mealybug in Californian vineyards. 7ème Conférence Internationale sur Les Ravageurs en Agriculture, Montpellier, France 26 et 27 oct. 2005.