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Mealybugs are small insects covered with a white mealy coating; some have white hairs attached to their bodies. The bugs feed by sucking on plant juices. Mealybugs excrete a sticky substance called honeydew which ants like to feed on. The honeydew also provides a perfect medium for sooty mould growth. Mild temperatures and high humidity are perfect conditions for mealybugs to breed as eggs hatch every 2-3 weeks. Prolonged hot weather reduces numbers. Heavy infestations can occur on citrus trees, daphne, and other ornamental plants. Orchids and ferns, especially in shadehouse, can also become infected. Mealybugs can also attack bulbs in storage and the roots of some plants such as polyanthus, liliums and callas.
New growth appears distorted with a whitish substance in the leaf axils. Close inspection will reveal the bugs.