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Pink Hibiscus Mealybug (PHM)

On Wednesday, 21 June, the Florida Department of Agriculture confirmed that samples taken on 19 June from George Town were pink hibiscus mealybug (PHM).

For 12 years, Caymanís Department of Agriculture (DOA) had monitored the spread of PHM throughout the region, hoping to keep it from spreading to these Islands. Once the presence of the pest was confirmed, department staff launched its plan, developed in 1996 when PHM became a regional threat, to combat the pest. The plan has been periodically updated and is designed to contain and eradicate PHM.

PHM infests more than 250 agricultural and horticultural plant species, including hibiscus, sorrel, mango, avocado, citrus, guava, tomato and peppers. In the mid-1990s, the pest caused economic losses in excess of $3.5 million a year in Grenada and $125 million a year in Trinidad and Tobago, according to US Department of Agriculture reports.

Cayman's residents are asked to pay attention to plants on their properties and in public places, by looking for white, cotton-like masses. If masses are spotted, the public should call the DOA hotline 1-800-534-BUGS (2847). Do not attempt to cut or otherwise destroy the plants as this may increase the risk of spreading the pest.

Pink Hibiscus Mealybug (PHM) Presentation
These 51 slides are DOA's prime public education tool. Photos show the signs of an infestation, and the eventual devastation. The presentation explains how the pest is spread and what the consequences are. It reviews DOA's strategies for containing and eradicating the pest and tells residents how they can help.