April 2000. A margarodid scale (initially thought to be Margarodes meridionalis or Eumargaroides lingi (Homoptera: Margarodidae) was reported in Guam to be causing a severe infestation on Bermuda grass at one of the country’s premier golf course. The nymphs and apparent cysts seemed to resemble the margarodid more than the mealybug nymphs or adults, and were located on the apices of the cut grass. This revelation produced some interesting correspondence between members.
The identification of the problem was the first to be queried; was it a scale or a mealybug? Was it not more likely to be Antonina graminis, Rhodes grass scale, a pseudococcid, therefore, a mealybug? PestNet members did not know of a margarodid on small grasses. Specimens were later identified as A. graminis.
Antonina caused a lot of damage on Bermuda Grass in Hawaii 10 plus years’ ago. And has also been linked with an infestation of Spodoptera mauritia and Herpetogramma licarsisalis, the webworm.
A dilute soap solution might work to control the mealybug – as in the kitchen garden, mealybugs do not like soap and “old washing up water” can be used for control. It is not a very technical recommendation, but a low concentration soap solution usually works.
Enquiries were also made about the prevailing weather conditions: had there been a long dry spell? This may have triggered the infestation.
The common name of the mealybug was also a matter of discussion, with one member suggesting that Rhodes grass scale became Rhodes grass mealybug or even better Bermuda grass mealybug. In response, another member also thought that the name, Antonina graminis, was not entirely appropriate, but it was the name given in the US List of Approved Names. This name dates back to whoever coined the common name, a long time ago. Of course, with common names there is nothing to stop different versions – but a plethora of common names for the same bug creates confusion. Hence, the preference for using scientific names whenever possible.