Phenacoccus peruvianus Granara de Willink: Bougainvillea Mealybug

California Pest Rating for
Phenacoccus peruvianus Granara de Willink: Bougainvillea Mealybug
Hemiptera:  Pseudococcidae
Pest Rating:  A


Initiating Event:

In June 2013 Dr. Gillian Watson identified samples of Phenacoccus peruvianus from a nursery in Los Angeles County.  This Neotropical mealybug has recently spread around the Mediterranean via the nursery trade where it has established outdoors and is the subject of biological control programs.  Because of the polyphagous nature of the pest and its track record as an emerging invasive species, Dr. Watson recommended a survey of the environment around the nursery where it had been found.  Invasion of California by Phenacoccus peruvianus appears imminent and the mealybug presently has a temporary Q-rating, so a pest rating proposal is required to establish a permanent rating.

History & Status:

Background:  Adult and nymph bougainvillea mealybugs feed on the lower surfaces of foliage of a variety of plants but may also be found on shoots, bark, and upper leaf surfaces2.  Heavy infestations of the mealybugs cause significant damage to ornamental plants, ruining their appearance and reducing their market value2.  Populations of the mealybug may cause necrosis of the foliage, leaf loss, die back and sooty mold growth on the excreted honeydew2.  Known host plants include: AcanthaceaeJusticia suberecta2; Amaranthaceae: Alternanthera sp.2; ApocynaceaeAllamanda cathartica (Copa de Oro) (PDR 56VP06083189), Plumeria sp. (PDR 56VP06083076), Trachelospermum jasminoides (star jasmine) (PDRs 400P06198540, 56VP06083076, 400P06198619, 56VP06083189, 56VP06083193, 400P06198525),  AsclepiadaceaeAraujia sercifera2;  AsteraceaeBaccharis sp.2, Eupatorium sp.2,4; Aucubaceae:  Aucuba japonica2BignoniaceaeCampsis distictis (trumpet vine) (PDR 56VP06083189) ;  CannaceaeCanna sp. (PDR 56VP06083079);  HamamelidaceaeLoropetalum chinense (Chinese Fringe Flower) (PDR 56VP06083189);  Juglandaceae: Juglans jamaicensis4; LamiaceaeLamium spp. (PDR 56VP06083079); Solenostemon blumei4MalvaceaeHibiscus rosa-sinensis4; Hibiscus sp. (PDR 360P06202527),  MyporaceaeMyporum laetum2MyrtaceaePsidium spp. (guava, strawberry guava, mexican guava) (PDRs 190P06058618, 190P06058626, 190P06058785);  Nyctagenaceae: Bougainvillea glabra1,2, Bougainvillea sp.1,2RubiaceaeCoffea sp.4; SapindaceaeDodonea viscosa (PDR 190P06058627);  Scrophulariaceae: Budleja sp.2; Solanaceae: Capsicum sp. (Chili pepper) (PDR 190P06058634), Cestrum sp2, Lycopersicon escuelentum4; Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco)3, Solandra sp. (PDR 56VP06083165), Solanum lycopersicum (tomato)3, Solanum vespertilio2, Solanum jasminoiles (potato vine) (PDR 400P06198732);  Verbenaceae: Lantana camara4 (PDR 56VP06083079, 400P06198670).  Phenacoccus peruvianus is presently spreading long distances through international plant trade.

Worldwide Distribution: Phenacoccus peruvianus is native to South America where it was first found in Peru and northern Argentina1.   Bougainvillea mealybug was not found outside of this native range until it was recently found spreading rapidly around Europe.  It was first found in Spain in 1999, Italy in 2002, Great Britain and France in 2005, Portugal in 2006, Monaco in 20081, and Greece in 20125.  Bougainvillea mealybug has not been found in North America aside from interceptions in California nurseries, which started in June 2013.

Official Control: Phenacoccus peruvianus is not known to be under official control in any nations or states.

California DistributionPhenacoccus peruvianus has never been found in the environment of California.

California InterceptionsPhenacoccus peruvianus has not been intercepted at the borders or ports in California.  It has been found in four nurseries during inspections in Los Angeles, Ventura, and San Bernardino Counties.  Bougainvillea mealybug has also been intercepted six times on shipments of plants from the Ventura County nursery.

The risk Phenacoccus peruvianus (Bougainvillea mealybug) would pose to California is evaluated below.

Consequences of Introduction: 

1.  Climate/Host Interaction: Phenacoccus peruvianus is presently invasive in the Mediterranean region of Europe, a climate similar to California, indicating that it is likely to find favorable conditions here. Furthermore, the hosts of the polyphagous mealybug are widely grown as ornamentals in California.  Bougainvillea mealybug receives a High (3) in this category.

Evaluate if the pest would have suitable hosts and climate to establish in California.  Score:

Low (1) Not likely to establish in California; or likely to establish in very limited areas.
Medium (2) may be able to establish in a larger but limited part of California.
High (3) likely to establish a widespread distribution in California.

2.  Known Pest Host Range: Phenacoccus peruvianus feeds on at least 32 species of plants in 20 families.  Twenty-seven finds in California associated with nurseries have revealed 13 new host records, indicating that the host range of this polyphagous mealybug is likely to continue to expand as it invades new areas.  Bougainvillea mealybug receives a High(3) in this category.

Evaluate the host range of the pest. Score:

Low (1) has a very limited host range.
Medium (2) has a moderate host range.
High (3) has a wide host range.

3.  Pest Dispersal Potential: Mealybugs are capable of rapid reproduction.  They may also spread long distances by hitchhiking on clothing or animals, by wind, or by commerce in infested plants.  Phenacoccus peruvianus receives a High (3) in this category.

Evaluate the natural and artificial dispersal potential of the pest. Score:

Low (1) does not have high reproductive or dispersal potential.
Medium (2) has either high reproductive or dispersal potential.
High (3) has both high reproduction and dispersal potential.

4.  Economic Impact: Bougainvillea mealybug is expected to be a pest in the nursery industry as it disfigures ornamental plants with its presence and with sooty mold.  It is likely to reduce the value of infested plants or increase production costs by triggering management activities.  Although bougainvillea mealybug is not currently known to be on any quarantine lists, it has a very limited worldwide distribution and has only recently become invasive.  It has not been found anywhere else in the United States.  It is therefore reasonable to assume that the presence of this mealybug in the state may disrupt markets for California-grown ornamental plants. Bougainvillea mealybug is not expected to lower crop yields, change cultural practices in agricultural industries, vector diseases, injure animals, or interfere with water supplies.  Phenacoccus peruvianus receives a Medium (2) in this category.

Evaluate the economic impact of the pest to California using the criteria below. Score:

A. The pest could lower crop yield.
B. The pest could lower crop value (includes increasing crop production costs).
C.  The pest could trigger the loss of markets (includes quarantines).
D.  The pest could negatively change normal cultural practices.
E.  The pest can vector, or is vectored, by another pestiferous organism.
F.  The organism is injurious or poisonous to agriculturally important animals.
G.  The organism can interfere with the delivery or supply of water for agricultural uses.

Low (1) causes 0 or 1 of these impacts.
Medium (2) causes 2 of these impacts.
High (3) causes 3 or more of these impacts.

 5.  Environmental Impact: Phenacoccus peruvianus is not expected to lower biodiversity, disrupt natural communities, or change ecosystem processes.  Baccharis is a known host of the mealybug and Baccharis vanessae (Encinitas baccharis) is listed as an endangered species in California.  This plant may be directly affected by the mealybug.  Bougainvillea mealybug is not expected to disrupt critical habitats.  The mealybug is likely to trigger additional treatment programs in the nursery industry and by residents who find infested plants unsightly.  Since many of the known hosts are common ornamental plants it is likely that bougainvillea mealybug will have environmental cultural impacts as residents discard infested plants and replace them with other species.  Bougainvillea mealybug receives a High (3) in this category.

Evaluate the environmental impact of the pest on California using the criteria below.

A.  The pest could have a significant environmental impact such as lowering biodiversity, disrupting natural communities, or changing ecosystem processes.
B.  The pest could directly affect threatened or endangered species.
C.  The pest could impact threatened or endangered species by disrupting critical habitats.
D.  The pest could trigger additional official or private treatment programs.
E.  The pest significantly impacts cultural practices, home/urban gardening or ornamental plantings.

Score the pest for Environmental Impact. Score:

Low (1) causes none of the above to occur.
– Medium (2) causes one of the above to occur.
High (3) causes two or more of the above to occur.

 Consequences of Introduction to California for Phenacoccus peruvianus (Bougainvillea mealybug): High(14)

Add up the total score and include it here.

– Low = 5-8 points
– Medium = 9-12 points
– High = 13-15 points

6.  Post Entry Distribution and Survey Information: Phenacoccus peruvianus has never been found in the environment of California and receives a Not established (0) in this category.

Evaluate the known distribution in California. Only official records identified by a taxonomic expert and supported by voucher specimens deposited in natural history collections should be considered. Pest incursions that have been eradicated, are under eradication, or have been delimited with no further detections should not be included.

– Not established (0) Pest never detected in California, or known only from incursions.
– Low (-1) Pest has a localized distribution in California, or is established in one suitable climate/host area (region).
– Medium (-2) Pest is widespread in California but not fully established in the endangered area, or pest established in two contiguous suitable climate/host areas.
– High (-3) Pest has fully established in the endangered area, or pest is reported in more than two contiguous or non-contiguous suitable climate/host areas.

Final Score:

The final score is the consequences of introduction score minus the post entry distribution and survey information score: High (14)


There have not been any formal surveys for bougainvillea mealybug in California so it is possible that it could be established in some places.

Conclusion and Rating Justification:

Phenacoccus peruvianus is a polyphagous mealybug that has never been found in the environment of North America.  If it were found, it would likely result in official survey and eradication or biological control programs due to potential significant economic and environmental impacts.  An A-rating is justified.


1Beltrá, A., A. Soto, J.-F. Germain, D. Matile-Ferrero, G. Mazzeo, G. Pellizzari, A. Russo, J.C. Franco, and D.J. Williams.  2010.  The Bougainvillea mealybug Phenacoccus peruvianus, a rapid invader from South America to Europe.  Entomologia Hellenica 19:137-143.

2SEL Catalog Query Results:  Phenacoccus peruvianus Granara de Willink.

3Beltrá, Aleixandre, Alejandro Tena, and Antonia Soto.  2013.  Fortuitous biological control of the invasive mealybug Phenacoccus peruvianus in Southern Europe.  BioControl 58(3): 309-317.

4Beltrá, Aleixandre Ivars.  2014.  Biology and management of the invasive mealybug Phenacoccus peruvianus (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) in urban landscapes.  Doctoral Thesis, Universitat Politècnica de València.….pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

5Gkounti, Vasilki and Panagiotis Milonas. 2013.  First record of the bougainvillea mealybug Phenacoccus peruvianus in Greece.  Entomologia Hellenica 22: 16-18.

Responsible Party:

Jason Leathers, 1220 N Street, Sacramento, CA, 95814, (916) 654-1211,[@]

Comment Period:  CLOSED

The 45-day comment period opened on Wednesday,  April 1, 2015 and closed on May 16, 2015.

Pest Rating:  A

Posted by ls