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Mealy cochineal

Mealy cochineal

This parasite belongs to the order of the Rincoti and to the family of the Pseudococcidae. The Pseudococcidae family also includes other species of insects, some attack specific plants and others attack certain plant parts. Their name derives from the fact that they emit some wax given their dusty and cottony appearance. In fact, in addition to being called floury cochineals, they are nicknamed cottony cochineals. The females of these insects have a flattened body and a few millimeters long, their profile is almost oval. The head of this parasite is almost indistinguishable from the thorax even if it is formed by moniliform antennae made up of 5-9 articles.

Damage caused

If the plant has been attacked by a floury cochineal we will immediately notice some changes. The floury cochineals linger on the lower part of the leaflets of the plant or along the small twigs. The symptoms we will notice will be whitish wax that will form in some areas of the plant and honey that covers the areas affected by these parasites. Another symptom that could make us notice the presence of cochineals are the infestations of ants. The ants feed on that kind of honey that the cochineal leaves while the cochineals feed on the plant sap. The attacks of these insects lead to a weakening of the plant and consequently could lead to their destruction, even if this is a rather rare eventuality.

How to remove them

Mealy cochineal often form due to variations in climate that are not suitable for the growth of our plant. Therefore it is possible to eliminate them by ventilating the environment in which the plants are placed. An aeration can also be obtained by shaking the leaves and the rest of the crown, then proceeding with pruning. One way to prevent the formation of these small and harmful insects is to reduce nitrogen fertilizations because they develop the vegetal part of the seedling more. But it is also possible to remove it manually using a piece of cotton wool or sponge soaked in alcohol, they are removed by rubbing on the part affected by the cochineal. Yet another method to eliminate these parasites is to use mineral oils, perhaps combined with specific insecticides for both the plant and the type of parasite. But it is essential to pay the utmost attention because the use of these products also removes those insects that are good and useful to plants for their development.

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