The cottony cochineal is a tiny insect whose presence can affect growth, appearance and vigor of many plants, both indoors and in greenhouses, and also usually attract other pests and diseases, such as ants and fungi.
The female cottony mealybugs can reach measure up to 5 mm, whereas the males present a size something minor. Both have an aspect oval and their bodies are covered with a kind of white substance and spongy, similar to cotton, that serves protection.
This pest feeds nailing a peak on leaves, stems and fruits to absorb the sap, causing yellowing and growth reduction attacked plants, often subject the fall premature leaf and even death of the branches when the degree of infestation becomes very high.
Another negative aspect of the Cochineal cottony (Dactylopius coccus) is that results difficult to detect, because usually installed on the parties less visible of plants, and also expands very easily, because each one of those insects wears a kind of white bag elongated in the back the body, in which can store between 600 u 800 eggs.
The Cochineal cottony not only is harmful by its feeding system, but because also secretes a thick substance sugared (molasses) which promotes growth of the fungus bold or Sooty mold, besides attracting to the always devastating ants.
The first recommendation to detect the early presence of this plague is to examine plants weekly, especially in the knots and in the inner faces of leaves, with the purpose of verifying existence of small white bubbles and Fleecy or presence of molasses aforementioned.
The appearance of yellow leaves, discolored or deformed can be an alert signal about an attack in advanced state.
How to prevents and combat?
In the case of plants of interiors, a common preventive measure is avoiding excess environmental dryness which may favor the appearance of this pest, either changing the location of the plant to a cooler environment or illuminated, or by installing of humidifiers inside housing.
When early detection of the Cochineal cottony occurs in plants and small trees, the same can removed applying a soft bristle brush, a brush, a damp cloth or a speck soaked cotton in denatured alcohol or vegetable oil on both sides of the leaves and in the knots. In plants, trees and shrubs of strong stem can attack these insects with pressurized water a hose.
When the degree of infestation is high, it is advised spraying all the foliage with an insecticide Soap or oil, repeating the applications every two or three days until they disappear all mealybugs cottony. Likewise, is must remove a portion or all sheets of the attacked plants, and place the parts pruned in a plastic bag which must be left firmly closed and exposed to sun, so that heat be responsible for kill the mealybugs.