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Mealybug Predator (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae)

Cryptolaemus montrouzieri

Mealybug ladybird, Mealybug destroyer

On this page: Identification Biological control & distribution


Adult Cryptolaemus montrouzier are medium-size coccinellids, measuring up to 6 mm in body length. Their elytra are rather uniformly dark brown and covered with fine hairs which can give them a silvery appearance. The head, antennae, pronotum, legs and the tips of the elytra (as well as the tip of the abdomen that protrudes beyond the elytra) are orange-brown.

First image above copyright gbohne under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

The fourth instar larva of Cryptolaemus montrouzieri (see second picture above) is much larger than the adult (and than the mealybugs it feeds on) with a body length of up to 13 mm. The larva has 'appendages' of white floculent wax which make it appear like its prey, an example of 'aggressive mimicry' which prevents it being identified by prey and other predators alike.

Biological control & Distribution

Cryptolaemus montrouzieri is a voracious predator of mealybugs and has been widely introduced for biological control. When prey are scarce they also feed on aphids and soft scales. It has been used for classical biological control, for example when it was introduced to California in 1891 to control the citrus mealybug (Planococcus citri). That species is endemic to Queensland and New South Wales in Australia, but has been introduced to many parts of the world where it has become established - including southern Europe, tropical and North Africa, parts of North America and the neotropical zone.


We especially thank Plumpton College for their kind assistance, and permission to sample.

For aphids we have made provisional identifications from photos of living specimens, along with host plant identity using the keys and species accounts of Blackman & Eastop (1994) and Blackman & Eastop (2006) supplemented with Blackman (1974), Stroyan (1977), Stroyan (1984), Blackman & Eastop (1984), Heie (1980-1995), Dixon & Thieme (2007) and Blackman (2010). We fully acknowledge these authors as the source for the (summarized) taxonomic information we have presented. Any errors in identification or information are ours alone, and we would be very grateful for any corrections. For assistance on the terms used for aphid morphology we suggest the figure provided by Blackman & Eastop (2006).

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