Predatory beetle (Cryptolaemus montrouzieri)
The predatory beetle, Cryptolaemus montrouzieri (Mealybug Ladybird) of the Coccinellidae family is a generalist predator of mealybugs.
C. montrouzieri attacks the citrus mealybug and other closely related mealybug species as well as several soft scales, including hemispherical scale and its relatives. It is considered an important predator of the citrus and long-tailed mealybugs in greenhouses and interior plantscapes and efficiently controls the pink hibiscus mealybug. C. montrouzieri prey includes members of the families: Aleyrodidae, Aphididae, Coccoidea, Psyllidae, Noctuidae etc.
C. montrouzieri is a small dark brown beetle, about 4 mm long with an orange head, prothorax, wing tips and abdomen. C. montrouzieri eggs are yellow.
Bio® Cryptolaemus – The Product
- C. montrouzieri is packed in boxes containing 500 adult beetles. Honey-soaked paper serves as food for the adult beetles in the product container.
- The predators are released by removing the package’s lid and either placing it adjacent to the mealybug-infested spot or, while walking between the plants, tapping the package gently and letting the beetles fly out towards the plants.
- If necessary, Bio®Cryptolaemus can be stored for 24 hours at a temperature of 10-12°C from the moment of arrival until release. The product should never be frozen.
- Bio®Cryptolaemus is compatible with selected conventional chemicals (a Shale Peak Horticulture representative should be contacted before any chemical spray).
- Bio®Cryptolaemus is shipped in isolated styrofoam packages chilled with icepacks. This packaging must be kept intact until it reaches the end-user. When applied, the boxes should be taken from the shipment package one by one and the predators should be released immediately.
- About 3 weeks to one month following the predatory beetles’ release (depending upon temperature), their larval offspring are clearly seen within the mealybug-infested spot. Remains of dead mealybugs, preyed upon by Bio®Cryptolaemus, are also visible. The subsequent established generations of the predatory beetle will effectively control the mealybugs in the long run. C. montrouzieri and the mealybug parasitoid Anagyrus pseudococci (Bio®Anagyrus) complement each other: The former seeks dense populations of mealybug pests. Hence it is effective in mealybug hot spots. The latter is a superior searcher for mealybugs at low infestation rate. Therefore it is best used under initial/scarce infestation by mealybugs. The predatory beetle does not discriminate between non-parasitized mealybugs and those inhabited by early stages of the parasitic wasp. Consequently, it may consume early-parasitized mealybugs. However, once the parasitized mealybug mummifies, the predatory beetle avoids it completely. Thus the two natural enemies may co-exist in the same habitat and establish long-lasting control of mealybugs.
- The rate and frequency of Bio®Cryptolaemus release may differ from one host plant and/or habitat to another. Introduction rate should be determined according to the nature of the crop (open field or protected) and according to the rate of mealybug infestation.
- If ants are present at the mealybug hot spots, they must be destroyed. Ants encourage honeydew secretion by the mealybugs, transferring them from one place to another while protecting them vigorously from the predators.