Golden root mealybug

The non-native golden root mealybug, Chryseococcus arecae was first recorded in the UK in 2012. It is a native of New Zealand that unlike other root mealybug species found in Britain can be found on the roots of outdoor plants all year round.

Golden root mealybug © FERA/David Crossley

Quick facts

Common name Golden root mealybug
Scientific name Chryseococcus arecae
Plants affected Meconopsis, Primula, potentially many other plants
Main symptoms Lack of vigour, yellow mealybugs on roots
Most Active All year

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What is golden root mealybug?

Golden root mealybug is a sap feeding insect that feeds on the roots of a wide variety of plants, although it has mainly been found on Meconopsis and Primula in the UK. Unlike most other mealybug species found in the Britain it is able to survive the winter outdoors.

The golden root mealybug is a recent arrival in the UK, and has so far only been found in Scotland and northern England. The RHS wants gardeners finding this insect in their garden to let them know by sending samples to the Entomology Team, RHS Garden Wisley, Woking, Surrey GU23 6QB. The postcode of the house/garden where the pest has been found should be given, along with the identity of the host plants, or if unknown a sample of the foliage and flowers.

Symptoms

You may see the following symptoms:

  • Infestations are usually first noticed when the roots of underperforming plants are examined
  • Small (2-3 mm) insects covered in a golden yellow wax attached to the roots. Note: other sap-sucking root pests, e.g. root aphid or other root mealybugs are usually white
  • In its native New Zealand the golden root mealybug does not cause serious plant damage. In the UK infestations have been noticed on plants lacking vigour it is not known if the mealybugs were the cause

Control

There are currently no pesticide controls for root mealybugs in the open ground. Heavily infested plants should be removed and burnt or disposed of in council waste.

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