What's Happening to the Plumeria?

Dave Jennings
Dave Jennings

KAILUA (KHNL) On Drought Watch, dry conditions are having a devastating toll on local plumeria trees.

In some parts of Maui and here on Oahu the trees are already stressed due to the lack of water, Perfect conditions for the papaya mealybug to establish a colony.

Beth Hillyer demonstrates, "Behind me is a healthy, flowering plumeria, looks like it should this time of year. Now compare it to this one over here. It's leaves are dying, there are no flowers. a victim of papaya mealybug."

Dave and Peggy Jennings spend a lot of time taking care of the yard and the plants at their Kailua home. Now an unwanted visitor has moved in.

Dave Jennings thinks back, "We've never had it this bad, never seen this before."

Their plumeria trees are playing host to the papaya mealybug.

"It was early in the summer when we saw the plumeria flowers coming out then we noticed the leaves were wrinkling basically the new ones coming out, then we noticed the white things," explains Jennings.

The white things are evidence of an infestation. This tree is normally covered with deep red blossoms. Now there are just a handful. Jennings points out, "No you are not seeing any blossoms at all. They are beautiful deep maroon plumeria. Now seeing more of light green leaf, now yellow green."

Here's how to tell if your plumaria's have it. "We still are getting the poorly developed leaves and the white fungus whatever underneath the leaf."

What Dave and Peggy miss most are the sweet smelling flowers, "It's disappointing to us the fact that we are not seeing the beautiful plumeria flowers."