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Host preference and biology of two cryptic species, Planococcus citri (Risso) and Planococcus minor (Maskell) (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae)

Ana Luiza Viana de Sousa, Marlice Botelho Costa, Brígida Souza, Lenira Viana Costa Santa-Cecília, Renato Ribeiro Lima


The mealybugs Planococcus minor (Maskell) and Planococcus citri (Risso) (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) are cryptic species to be morphologically similar and share common hosts. However some host preference has been observed. In addition to preference, evidence showed that host plants could affect the reproductive traits of mealybugs. Although there are few studies about the influence of these plants on development of Planococcus spp. In this work, we conducted laboratory studies to: (a) determinate the effect of original host cocoa, coffee and orange (leaves and fruits) on the preference of P. minor and P. citri using free choice assays; and, (b) investigate the nymph’s development and female’s oviposition of both P. minor and P. citri in cocoa, coffee and orange (fruits). P. minor before the preference and development assays was reared in cocoa fruits and P. citri was reared in coffee seedlings and orange fruits. In free choice assays, P. minor showed a great preference for cocoa fruits than P. citri. Rearing substrates did not affect the choice and development of P. citri. The preference of P. minor for cocoa fruits shows a possible food conditioning. All three tested hosts (original hosts: cocoa, coffee and orange) were accepted for this mealybug’s species but the oviposition was strongly increased only on cocoa fruits, in both species P. citri and P. minor.