Daily Archives: 08/06/2003

Papaya Mealybug In Retreat

A couple years ago, my plumeria were in a sorry state. The plants were infested with an insect that dessicated the leaves and left a crusty white residue on leaves and branches. I came to find out it was an invasive papaya mealybug which also has a taste for plumeria and other ornamentals. I feared I would forever lose the beautiful flowers and frangrance of the plumeria.

But help arrived in the form of a small wasp imported from Puerto Rico. Biologists at the University of Guam released the microscopic parasites last year, and the initial results are positive. The wasp lays an egg inside the mealybug, which matures into a larva and devours the unfortunate host from the inside out. A rather gruesome way to go, but this little wasp is nature’s predator for the mealybug.

My plumeria are saved from the ravages of the papaya mealybug thanks to this unseen wasp. Of course all three plumeria in the yard took a tremendous beating from the typhoons last year and only now show signs of blooming. But I am looking forward to that day.