This photo of a scale insect infesting papaya on Majuro was sent by Henry Capelle, Chief of Agriculture and Quarantine, Republic of the Marshall Islands.
My guess is that it is papaya mealybug, Paracoccus marginata. If you pan arround the image at highest resolution, you will see mealybugs, and not just the wax they exude.
This mealybug was a serious problem on Guam and other Micronesian Islands starting in the early 2000's. However, introduction of parasitoids quickly brought it under control (Meyerdirk et al. 2004, Muniappan et al. 2006).
I suggest the following steps should be taken:
- Send specimens to a specialist to determine species. (Necessary because many biocontrol agents are species-specific.)
- Determine if parasitoids are already present. If so, can changes be made to make them more effective (pesticide selection, etc.)
- Introduce biocontrol agents which have effectively controled the target scale insect elsewhere in the Pacific.
Specimens sent to Dr. Gillian Watson, California Department of Food and Agriculture
4fc590d3d59fe Laura, Majuro, Marshall Islands 7.143123°N 171.037872°E ex papaya coll. H. Capelle 25-MAY-2012 4fc590d3e4cdf Laura, Majuro, Marshall Islands 7.143123°N 171.037872°E ex papaya coll. H. Capelle 25-MAY-2012
Paracoccus marginata, papaya mealybug
Det. by G. Watson, 8-JUN-2012
This is a new island record for Majuro, and a new country record for the Republic of the Marshall Islands.