Body oval; somewhat flattened dorsoventally; body gray; legs red; covered by thin, white, mealy wax, with dark dorsosubmedial bare spots on intersegmental areas of thorax and abdomen, these areas forming 1 pair of dark longitudinal lines on dorsum; ovisac covering entire dorsum; with 18 pairs of lateral wax filaments, posterior pairs longest, about _ or less of length of the body. Primarily occurring on foliage of host. Specimens in alcohol with 1 pair dorsosubmedial dark lines on thorax and abdomen. Surface of lateral filaments rough.
This species was intercepted 600 times at U. S. ports-of-entry between 1995 and 2012, with specimens originating from American Samoa, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Hawaii, India, Italy, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Peru, The Philippines, South Africa, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Maarten, Thailand, The U.S. Virgin Islands, Vietnam, and Yemen. It is one of the most polyphagous of all mealybug species (Williams 2004); therefore, we have not recorded older quarantine records. ScaleNet lists the species from more than 45 families of host plants. It is found in nearly all warm areas of the world but has limited distribution in the Australasian and Oriental regions. Several species of Phenacoccus other than P.defectus Ferris, P. franseriae Ferris, P. gossypii Townsend & Cockerell, P. hakeae Williams, P. helianthi (Cockerell), P. madeirensis, P. parvus Morrison, P. solani Ferris, P. solenopsis Tinsley and P. stelli (Brain) have been taken at U. S. ports-of-entry including: P. alleni McKenzie (Mexico, on Artemisia); P. avenae Borchsenius (Turkey, on Stachys); P. azaleae Kuwana (Japan, on azalea); P. graminicola Leonardi (New Zealand, on Feijoa); P. hurdi McKenzie (Mexico, on Dendranthema and Capsicum); P. indicus Avasthi & Shafee (Thailand, on Euphorbia); P. multicerarii Granara de Willink (Mexico, on unknown host); P. manihoti Matile-Ferrero (Central Africa and South America, on Manihot); P. nephelii Takahashi (Thailand, on Garcinia; Vietnam, on Nephelium); P. pergandei Cockerell (Japan and Korea, on Diospyros, Magnolia, Malus, Prunus, Punica, and Rhododendron); and P. persimplex Borchsenius (Kazakhstan, on Malus).