Pest categorisation of Phenacoccus solenopsis
The EFSA Panel on Plant Health performed a pest categorisation of Phenacoccus solenopsis (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) for the European Union (EU) territory. This species is not included in EU Commission Implementing Regulation 2019/2072. P. solenopsis is native to North America and has spread to all continents except Antarctica. It has recently been reported from Cyprus, Greece and Italy. This mealybug is a polyphagous pest, feeding on about 300 plant species. It usually feeds on aerial plant parts, especially new growth, but also occurs on roots, and is often associated with ants. It is an economically important pest of ornamentals, such as hibiscus and lantana, glasshouse vegetable crops, mainly bell pepper, tomato and eggplant, and field crops, such as cotton. Large populations cause die-back and reduction in yield. Adult and immature P. solenopsis could enter the EU with imported fresh fruit, vegetables and cut flowers, although the main pathway of introduction is likely to be plants for planting. Host availability and climate suitability indicate that most of the EU would be suitable for establishment. The main natural dispersal stage is the first instar, which crawls over the plant or may be dispersed further by wind and animals. All stages may be transported over longer distances in trade. Phytosanitary measures are available and should prevent further introductions and slow the spread within the EU. P. solenopsis is under official control in Cyprus and has recently been reported in Greece and Italy. Assuming that these reports reflect a limited distribution, and P. solenopsis shortly comes under official control, it would satisfy all the criteria that are within the remit of EFSA to assess for it to be regarded as a potential Union quarantine pest.
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