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Safj 2022 02 Australian Bug Vedalia Beetle Featured
February / March 2022

Australian Bug and the Vedalia Beetle in mandarin orchards in SA

SA Fruit Journal: February / March 2022

By Leani Serfontein (Citrus Research International)

Beetle and bug: friend and foe

Icerya purchasi Maskell, commonly known as Australian Bug or Cottony cushion scale is native to Australia. Today, it can be found in numerous countries around the world and was probably spread through the movement of fruit or plant materials. It was first discovered in SA late in 1892 ,where it has since infiltrated all citrus growing regions of Southern Africa (Hamon and Easulo, 2005; Caltagirone and Doutt, 1989; Bedford et al., 1998).

Being polyphagous in nature, Australian Bug is able to complete its life cycle on up to 200 different plant species. These plant species can range from garden plants such as roses, to commercial citrus orchards (Hamon and Easulo, 2005). In citrus orchards Australian Bug typically infests the branches, twigs and leaves where they cause damage by sucking the sap of the plant.

Australian Bugs also secrete large quantities of honeydew on which sooty mould develops. The sooty mould blocks the stomata, impeding respiration and photosynthesis. When severe infestations occur (Fig. 1), plants may undergo stress, causing a decrease in vitality, stunting, deformation of the leaves, fruit drop, defoliation, dieback and even plant death (Hamon and Easulo, 2005; Bedford et al., 1998).

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