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Phormium mealybug unlike glasshouse mealybugs only affects New Zealand flax and can survive out of doors throughout the year.
Like the host plant, phormium mealybug originates from New Zealand and is able to survive winters out of doors, unlike most mealybugs found in Britain which are dependent on glasshouse conditions. Mealybugs suck sap from plants and then excrete the excess sugars as a substance called honeydew. This lands on the leaves and stems were it is often colonised by sooty moulds, giving the surfaces a blackened appearance.
Phormium mealybug is specific to Phormium and can prove very damaging, particularly on young plants. The insects tend to cluster around the base of the leaves and heavy infestations cause plants to lack vigour and the foliage may die prematurely. Older established plants seem to be more tolerant of this insect and will often survive without much obvious damage.
This is a very difficult insect to control as the mealybugs are concealed at the base of leaves or where the leaf margins are folded together. This makes it very difficult to reach them with a pesticide and none of the products currently available to home gardeners is likely to give effective control.
MealybugsGolden root mealybugSooty moulds
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