Coffee mealybug

General information

Coffee mealybugs, Planococcus lilacinus, pose a significant threat to a range of Australian horticultural industries. The coffee mealybug affects 35 known plant host varieties including coffee, tamarinds, custard apples, coconuts, cocoa and citrus. It is important to limit the spread of coffee mealybug from the Torres Strait.

It is also known as:

  • oriental cacao mealybug
  • lilac mealybug
Scientific name

Planococcus lilacinus


Round, soft-bodied insects that are brownish red or tan in colour, with clumped segments of pink/purple wax covering their bodies. They:

  • are 1–3 mm in size
  • have an indistinct black stripe on their back.

The newly hatched nymphs are light yellow.

Life history

Females complete 3 nymphal stages before maturation, whereas males complete 2 nymphal stages followed by a pre-pupal and pupal stage before maturation.


Coffee mealybugs have been found on Boigu Island in the Torres Strait, they are not yet widely established in Queensland.

Host range

Hosts include:

  • avocado, Persea americana
  • black nightshade, Solanum nigrum
  • coconut, Cocos nucifera
  • coffee, Coffea arabica
  • custard apple, Annona muricata
  • grape, Vitis spp. 
  • green amaranth or pigweed, Amaranthus gracilis
  • guava, Psidium guajava
  • lychee, Litchi chinensis
  • mango, Mangifera indica
  • palms, many genera
  • pomegranate, Punica granatum
  • potato, Solanum tuberosum 
  • tamarind, Tamarindus indica

Mealybugs are pests of economic importance for a wide range of hosts (see hosts listed above). They can cause severe damage to crops, making the crop not suitable for market.

Symptoms are:

  • honey dew or sooty mould
  • wilting leaves
  • shredding of leaves
  • dead branches.
Control options

If you see plants showing symptoms of coffee mealybug, report it to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

To prevent the spread of coffee mealybugs, you should:

  • always use clean planting material
  • avoid sharing machinery and equipment with other gardeners unless it has been correctly cleaned down
  • practice good hygiene measures by ensuring shoes, clothing, equipment (including cutting tools), machinery and vehicles are clean and free of soil and plant material before and after use.

Quarantine restrictions

Biosecurity Queensland and the Australian Government's Northern Australian Quarantine Strategy (NAQS) have strict regulations in place to prevent the movement of risk materials between, and out of, their respective quarantine zones in the Torres Strait and on the Queensland mainland.