Muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) is a generally pest free plant in our area, however, we are seeing the native mealybug, Stemmatomerinx acircula, on plants in various landscapes. Insects are on the leaves and are grey with white wax that may have some filaments. You may also see long ovisacs on the leaves which contain eggs and crawlers. The native fakahatchee grass may also be a host.
Muhly grass infested with mealybug. Photo: Beth Bolles
The mealybug is white with fine filaments and numerous mealybugs can be found each leaf. Photo: Beth Bolles
The common practice of right plant, right place does not always prevent the mealybug infestations on muhly grass. Specimens in both full and shade can be affected, as well as mass plantings and those spaced out. At this time, there is not a lot of information on why some plantings are heavily infested and others are not.
Since mealybugs are piercing sucking insects, there may be some browning of leaves, especially on less vigorous plants. You may have to remove and destroy plants that are heavily infested and declining. In situations where treatment is warranted you may choose a systemic insecticide or oil spray to keep plants looking more attractive. As the landscape manager, you will need to decide what is an acceptable threshold for this pest.
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