Short Tailed Mealybug
Common Name: Short Tailed Mealybug
Order Name: Homoptera
Family Name: Pseudococcidae
These two long legged formic acid ant are harvesting a sweet meal from a herd of accommodating mealy bugs on a sisal plant (Agave sisalana) on Kauai. Mealybugs are cryptic insects covered with a white waxy powder. They feed in groups by puncturing the leaves and sucking out a meal of plant juice. After dining they secrete a sweet substance called honeydew that the ant are attracted to. Males have a single pair of wings and fly to diverse their populations. Mealybugs are topical insects and feed on a variety of tropical plants such as ginger and heleconia. Ants facilitate spreading the mealybug populations to new plants, which in sufficient numbers, can weaken the plants.