Pink sugarcane mealybug (Saccharicoccus sacchari)
Adult female is pinkish and it is elongated, oval to round in shape, and about 7 mm long. This mealybug is usually found in colonies on the stem beneath the sheath but is sometimes found on the stem just below ground level, on the root crowns, on the stem buds, and underneath the leaves. The leaves often turn red at the bases as a result of mealybug attack. Sooty moulds often develop in severe infestations and ants feed on honey dew excreted by the mealybugs. This mealybug is often present in very large numbers, which excrete a considerable amount of honeydew.
Damage is partially caused by the insect sucking the plant sap, which may lead to stunting and yellowing, thin canes, death of young shoots and impaired growth when mealybugs are present in high numbers, but direct damage rarely causes yield loss in sugarcane. Most damage is caused by honeydew excreted by the mealybugs and the gums exuded from the wounded parts, which interfere with the synthesis of raw sugar juice leading to filtration and clarification problems, lower quality of the syrup and reduced crystallisation. Severe attacks decrease the general vitality of the plants, which become more susceptible to diseases.
- Cultural methods such as destruction of crop residues and trash; clean cultivation; and use of non-infested planting material is the best way of controlling this pest.