Fruit Crops: Pineapple



Pineapple plants worldwide are infested with mealybugs feeding on the plant sap. Pineapple mealybugs are secretive in habit and usually inhabit the base of their host plants such as the lower portions of stems and the butts of pineapple plants. Basal portion of the planting material needed double prophylactic measures (phorate 10 G and neem cake ground application at 100 and 180 days after planting respectively), and three times manual weeding helps to protect from mealybug infestation . Elimination of tending ants from pineapple fields with the ant bait has led to improved mealybug suppression by their natural enemies. In a sense, the pineapple industry already uses biological control to manage wilt disease transmitted by mealybugs. When ants are controlled through chemical means, mealybug populations are regulated by the myriad of natural enemies found in pineapple fields. However, parasites became established but did not provide adequate control of mealybugs particularly in the presence of ants.


Natural Enemy Methyl Parathion Augmentative Biological Control Pineapple Fruit Water Storage Tissue 
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43.1 Species

Pineapple plants worldwide are infested with mealybugs feeding on the plant sap. Pink pineapple mealybug (PPM) Dysmicoccus brevipes (Cockerell), and grey pineapple mealybug (GPM) Dysmicoccus neobrevipes Beardsley are the mealybugs associated with pine apple plant (Beardsley 1964). PPM is the most widely distributed mealybug on pineapple worldwide (Williams and Watson 1988). It was thought by Ferris (1950) to be of North American origin, whereas, Carter (1935) considered it native to South America. Dysmicoccus brevipes is known to attack pine apple in several countries including India. This mealy bug generally occurs in moist tropical areas where pineapples are grown. It has been a prominent pest in Mauritius, tropical Africa, the South Pacific Islands, Hawaii, and the Philippines, Taiwan, and in common in the West Indies, South and Central America, with its distribution extending into Florida and Louisiana in the United States (Table 43.1). Dysmicoccus brevipes has become an increasing threat to pineapple cultivation in Kerala, West Bengal and Assam in India.
Table 43.1

List of mealybugs recorded in pine apple in different countries

Mealybug species



Dysmicoccus brevipes (Cockrell)

Several countries

Ben-Dov (1994)

India, Indonesia, Philippines


Dysmicoccus mackenziei Beardsley

Neotropical region

Ben-Dov (1994)

Dysmicoccus neobreipes Beardsley

Several countries

Ben-Dov (1994)


Williams (2004)

Ferrisia virgata (Cockerell)

Ben-Dov (1994)

Maconellicoccus hirsutus (Green)

India, Malaysia

Williams (2004)

Phenacoccus hargreavesi (Laing)


Ben-Dov (1994)

Phenacoccus madeirensis Green

Ben-Dov (1994)

Planococcoides nijalensis (Laing)

Ben-Dov (1994)

Planococcus citri (Risso)


Ben-Dov (1994)

Planococcus minor Maskell

Ben-Dov (1994)

Pseudococcus viburni (Signoret)

Ben-Dov (1994)

Pseudococcus cryptus Hempel


Williams (2004)

Pseudococcus longispinus (Targioni Tozzetti)

Ben-Dov (1994)

Trionymus internodii (Hall)


Ben-Dov (1994)

43.2 Damage

D. brevipes is common on the roots of pineapple and large colonies develop on the stems just above ground level. The mealybugs may spread upwards to feed in the floral cavities, on both small and mature fruit, and on the crown leaves. The leaves turn bright pink with some degree of flaccidity. The leaf tips turn brown, curl downward and the leaf margins show a light inward curving. Later, these symptoms become more pronounced. Ultimately, the plant wilts and dries with downward browning due to necrosis on leaf tips. Finally, the leaf tips dry up completely, and the bright pink turns completely dull. Correspondingly, the roots cease to elongate and collapse. Often, new roots appear above the old ones, and, concurrently, the renewed aerial growth associated. Sometimes, infected plants recover from the ailment, and normal new leaves come out at the centre. Mealybugs attack in basal portion and in fruit as well (Mandal 2009). The plants exhibit stunted appearance and size of fruits are reduced. Mealybugs may cause pineapple growers problems because they may impact the size of pineapple fruit due to withdrawal of plant nutrients; they produce large volumes of the sweet liquid called “honeydew” that makes the pineapple fruit sticky and black coloured from an associated fungus called sooty mould.

In Hawaii, D. brevipes is known to occur in two forms with distinctive body colours and biologies, and with different capacities to produce disorders or disease in pineapple plants (Carter 1936). Pink pineapple mealybug (PPM) D. brevipes and grey pineapple mealybug D. neobrevipes are the primary vectors of Pineapple Mealybug Wilt Associated Virus (PMWaV). On the Cook Islands of Atui and Mangaia, D. brevipes (whose dissemination is assured by ants, mainly Pheidole megacephala) could seriously affect the developing pineapple industry. And honeydew secretion by the mealybugs causes a decay of the maturing fruits. In conclusion, four types of damage are possible on pineapple: (1) the transmission of pineapple wilt (also called mealybug wilt and edge-wilt); (2) the production of chlorotic areas where there has been prolonged feeding and the underlying tissues have been exhausted; (3) damage to the bottom of the pineapple by the feeding of large mealybug populations which makes the bottom slices unmarketable and may cause the rotting and leaking of the fruits; and (4) “mealybug stripe” which results from the feeding of a short section of each of 3 or 4 inner whorl leaves. It is characterized by streaks of pale green to yellow and by the collapsing of the water storage tissues within these streaks.

43.3 Behaviour

Pineapple mealybugs are secretive in habit and usually inhabit the base of their host plants such as the lower portions of stems and the butts of pineapple plants, These sites of attack differ from that of grey pineapple mealybugs which are normally found on the aerial parts of its hosts such as leaves, stems, aerial roots, and flower and fruit clusters.

43.4 Natural Enemies

There are many natural enemies known to attack D. brevipes. Parasites include Aenasius cariocus Compere, Aenasius colombiensis Compere, Anagyrus ananatis Gahan, Euryhopauus propinquus Kerrich, Hambletonia pseudococcina Compere and Ptomastidae abnormis (Girault). Predators include Cryptolaemus montrouzieri Mulsant, Lobodiplosis pseudococci Felt, Nephus bilucernarius Mulsant, Scymnus (Pullus) unicatus Sicard and Scymnus pictus Gorham. Although many natural enemies to the pineapple mealybug are present, they exhibit minimal control if protective ants are tending the mealybug colony. The encyrtid Anagyrus ananatis preferred to parasitize adult females of Dysmicoccus brevipes. It is capable of parasitizing up to 27 mealybugs (González et al. 2005). It can be found attacking mealybugs in the presence of ants, although its impact on mealybug mortality is low. When ants are absent, the parasitoid is highly effective in lowering the mealybug populations in pineapple plantings (Hill 1983).

43.5 Management

Mealybug control often focuses on the control of caretaking ants that are essential for the proper development of pineapple mealybugs. They provide the mealybugs for shelter, protection from predators and parasites, and keep them clean from detritus that may accumulate in the secreted honeydew and be deleterious to the colony. Because of the essential role of the ants, management practices often include the control of tending ant species. Without the ants, mealybug populations are small and slow to invade new areas and the field would be free of a serious mealybug infestation. Three ant species are responsible for maintaining mealybug populations on pineapple.

Carter (1967) asserted that it is essential to first control ants in the pineapple fields prior to control of pine apple wilt. Ant control relies heavily on bait preparations since insecticides are used most efficiently and selectively in this form (McEwen et al. 1979). Insecticidal baits are a common and effective method of controlling ants. Amdro (hydramethylnon) and insect growth regulators are the most promising chemicals for ant control in pineapple (Reimer et al. 1990). When ants encounter a fence or wall they are likely to travel the course of the fence rather than up and over the fence to forage on the other side. Physical barriers such as ant fences running parallel to the field periphery are partially successful in keeping ants out of the field, and subsequently controlling mealybug populations.

43.6 Cultural Control

Previously infested fields should be turned over and all crop residues removed and burnt. Crop residues and grass roots left in the field may harbour mealybug populations until the new crop has developed enough to support a mealybug population. Field borders should be kept clean of weeds and debris that may support mealybugs between plantings. Weeds also provide alternative food sources that maintain ant populations between periods where mealybug infestations are small. A common cultural practice is to allow a field to lie fallow for 6–12 months after post-ratoon knockdown. This period is referred to as the inter cycle. Shortly before replanting, the field is burnt to remove pineapple trash.

43.7 Chemical Control

Granular formulations of commercial products 30 kg aldicarb/ha, 60 kg thiofanox/ha or 60 kg carbofuran/ha, gave the best results against Dysmicoccus brevipes (Ckll.) (Menezes et al. 1977). Malathion or diazinon is still used for direct mealybug control in pineapple, when ant control does not result in a sufficient reduction in mealybug populations. The chemical control of mealybugs is not easy. Complete coverage of a pineapple plant with insecticides not possible. Mealybugs tend to be deep in leaf axils, under the sepals of blossoms, or inside of closed blossom cups where they are protected from insecticidal sprays (Jahn 1995). According to Hu et al., spraying of quinalphos @ 0.025 %, fenitrothion @ 0.05 %, fenthion @ 0.05 %, chlorpyriphos @ 0.05 %, dimethoate @ 0.05 % or monocrotophos @ 0.05 % is done carefully so that the chemicals should reach the base and also the sides of the plant. Among non-systemic organophosphates, diazinon provided a minimum of 30 days of residual effects. The thick, waxy coating on mealybugs makes insecticide penetration difficult. Even the use of systemic insecticides is frequently impractical for mealybug control. Pineapple industry, however, still needs an alternative for diazinon that can be used on mature fruit prior to fruit harvest.

Dipping the basal portion of the planting material in methyl parathion @ 0.02 to 0.05 % or monocrotophos @ 0.02 % as a prophylactic measure and application of carbofuran 3G @ 15 to 17 kgha-1 in affected fields or phorate 10G @ 1.75 kgaiha-1 at 100 DAP can effectively control pineapple mealybug (Anonymous 2007). It indicated that the basal portion of the planting material needed double prophylactic measures (phorate 10 G and neem cake ground application at 100 DAP and 180 DAP respectively), and three times manual weeding helps to protect from mealybug infestation (Mandal 2007). According to the Pineapple Technical, PNB Krishi Samachar, Punjab National Bank expressed their views that BCR in pineapple cultivation may be 1.92 and invest rupee return (IRR) may be more than 50 % (Anonymous 2007).

43.8 Biological Control

Elimination of tending ants from pineapple fields with the ant bait has led to improved mealybug suppression by their natural enemies. In a sense, the pineapple industry already uses biological control to manage wilt disease transmitted by mealybugs. When ants are controlled through chemical means, mealybug populations are regulated by the myriad of natural enemies found in pineapple fields. However, parasites became established but did not provide adequate control of mealybugs particularly in the presence of ants.

43.9 Hawaii

Attempts to establish effective natural enemies of the pineapple mealybug were conducted over a long period but with little success in the early years. A number of the species imported specifically against this mealybug did not propagate readily on the Hawaiian form, nor was establishment secured with a long list of general predators, among which were about 12 species of Hyperaspis and 6 species of Scymnus, presumably well adapted to attack on this mealy bug. Some minor degree of control was attributable to the establishment of the cecidomyiid predator, Vincentodiplosis pseudococci (Felt), imported from Mexico in 1930, and to a few of the numerous coccinellids that had been imported as general mealybug feeders (Fullaway 1924, 1933; Swezey 1925; Carter 1935; Zimmerman 1948). Mealybug species Pseudococcus bromelias on pineapple was kept down by C. montrouzieri in Hawaii (Fullaway 1922). The encyrtid Euryrhopalus schwarzi (How.) (=pretiosa Timb.) and the cecidomyiid Dicrodiplosis guatemalensis Felt, both imported in 1935 from Guatemala, have been reported as established.

Two encyrtid parasites, Anagyrus coccidivorus Dozier to A. ananatis Gahan and Hambletonia pseudococcina Comp., were imported from Brazil in 1935–1936 and further stocks of the latter species from Venezuela and Colombia. It was found that the H. pseudococcina from Brazil, which is a bisexual race, would not propagate on the Hawaiian D. brevipes, but the stock from Venezuela, which reproduces parthenogenetically, was well adapted to it. Both of the above species became established (Carter 1937).

Anagyrus ananatis Gahan (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae) is the most common solitary, endoparasitoid of PPM in Hawaii. The parasitoid has provided partial control of PPM in association with other natural enemies. Field parasitization of PPM by A. ananatis in the presence of ants can be as high as 9.9 %. It was present in all pineapple fields surveyed and parasitized ant-tended mealybugs (Gonzalez et al. 1999). Because of its host specificity, abundance, and persistence, A. ananatis was chosen as a candidate for an augmentative biological control project targeted against PPM (González-Hernández et al. 1999).

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Anagyrus ananatis

Hambletonia pseudococcina

Mass production of a desired biological agent is crucial to the implementation of any augmentative biological control program. The ability to store reared biological control agents provides an opportunity to manufacture them during low demand periods and utilize them during high demand periods. It also permits synchronized field releases of natural enemies during the critical stages of pest outbreaks. Anagyrus ananatis prepupal and pupal stages could be stored for over 6 weeks at 15 °C without affecting their eclosion rate. When immatures were stored at 14.8 °C, they had emergence rates comparable to the control after 8 weeks, which indicated high survival rates at that temperature.

43.10 Florida

Although D. brevipes was only of very minor significance on a few small pineapple plantings in Florida, stocks of Hambletonia pseudococcina Comp. were imported from Puerto Rico in 1943–1944. The 1943 releases of very small numbers were unsuccessful, but 374 adults released at three sites in 1944 resulted in establishment at Sebring, Florida.

43.11 Puerto Rico

Anagyrus coccidivorus Doz. and Hambletonia pseudococcina Comp. were received from Brazil, via Hawaii in 1937–1938. The first was propagated in the insectary and over 7,000 adults released in the field. Despite releases continuing into 1940, there have been no recoveries. Although only two females of the unisexual race of Hambletonia pseudococcina were received alive, about 7,000 adults were reared and released. Establishment of H. pseudococcina occurred readily and field populations built up rapidly (Bartlett 1939).

43.12 Jamaica

There have been no reports of establishment of Hambletonia pseudococcina, Hyperaspis sp., and Diomus sp., imported from Hawaii in 1939.

43.13 Philippine Islands

The predators Cleodiplosis koebelei (Felt), Scymnus margipaliens Muls., and Hyperaspis silvestrii Weise were all established from Hawaiian importations in 1931, but reports as to their effectiveness are not available. In Philippines, C. montrouzieri was introduced against pineapple mealybug from USA in 1928 but establishment was reported only at one locality (Rao et al. 1971).

43.14 Mauritius

In Mauritius, biological control efforts against D. brevipes centred on C. montrouzieri which was imported from South Africa during 1936–1939. A total of 1,949 individuals were released in 19 sites in 1939–1940. No field recoveries were made (Mamet 1949).

43.15 Taiwan and Bonnin Islands

C. montrouzieri was imported for the control of D. brevipes but was only partially successful in Taiwan and Bonnin Islands (Sakimura 1935).

43.16 Africa

The ladybird beetle was introduced into South Africa in 1900. Later it became established on other crops but it was not effective against D. brevipes on pineapple (Greathead 1971). The predator was colonized on D. brevipes in pineapple plantations in West Africa (Mallamaire 1954).

43.17 Virginia

Mass releases of C. montrouzieri were made to control the heavy infestations of Pseudococcus comstocki on pineapple in Virginia but the predator proved ineffective against the mealybug (Haeussler and Clancy 1944).


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Copyright information

© Springer India 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Indian Institute of Horticultural ResearchBangaloreIndia

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