a question: insect pest on unknown fern

Monique Reed monique at mail.bio.tamu.edu
Mon Sep 4 12:50:58 EST 2000

These are probably mealybugs.  They don't eat the leaves, just suck
the sap out of them, which is very damaging.  You can swab them off
with alcohol or go the pesticide route (organic or inorganic.) Be very
vigilant--they multiply like crazy, spread like mad, and will migrate
to other plants.  You may want to quarantine your plant.

M. Reed

Alfred Geskin wrote:
> I have a fern plant bought in a grocery store floral department.  Black,
> stiff, thin, wiry, curly stems about 10 cm long. The inflexible dark green
> heart shaped leaves with a smooth, leathery surface are 5 cm wide by 8 cm
> long.
> It has a weird insect pest (must have come from the store).  It has the form
> of a trilobyte (the ancient sea animal) and is a mm. or two long.  It is
> snowy white and and clothed in white hairs.  It is a flat animal, very slow
> moving, and it lives under the leaves and spins clumps of white cottony
> stuff (which camoflage the animal).  It's a very beautiful little beast.  It
> immediately dissolves into brown goo when touched with rubbing alchohol.
> Heavily infested leaves seem to die, although I cannot see that the animal
> is eating them.
> Can anyone help me with the name of the plant and also the name and nature
> of the pest?  Most importantly if the pest is specific to that species or
> not!
> Thanks,
> Alfred
> P.S. A trilobyte is a flat, carapaced sea animal with a prominant central
> spine and perpendicular ribs, shaped like a long, isoceles triangle, with a
> smaller triangular head attached to the base of the triangle.

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