Well, maybe your tequila is safe for now, but if you live in Southern California you should be aware that two different species of mealybugs (from different genera) have been discovered infesting agave and succulent plants in many nurseries.
The California FDA issued Nursery Advisory No. 01-2012 on January 23rd to Agricultural Commissioners across the state to warn of the Agave Mealybug threat. So far there are no known cases of these mealy bugs loose in the environment, but agricultural inspectors for Riverside and San Diego counties have identified these mealy bugs at 13 nurseries since February 2011. While it’s unlikely that every day consumers will come across infected agaves or succulents at their local garden stores, it’s still good to be aware of the outbreak in case the mealybugs do spread.
These mealybugs are described as being waxy, pinkish-purple with a gray hue, and are typically located around the main stem or whorl of the plant. Check out the above link to the letter from the state to see pictures of a few infected agaves and one succulent.
Not to make light of a possibly bad situation, but let’s hope these mealybugs aren’t spreading through Mexico and affecting the Agave tequilana. If there’s a tequila shortage then I’ll have to give up my day job. Margaritas are the only thing that get me through the week.