Here are tips on how to identify, eliminate, and control whiteflies.
What are Whiteflies?
Whiteflies are soft-bodied, winged insects closely related to aphids. They can be found in most any region, but they are so tiny that they are usually camouflaged. They can be as small as 1/12 of an inch, and are often found in clusters on the undersides of leaves. They are active during the daytime, so they are easier to spot than some other nocturnal pests. Whiteflies are capable of over wintering and reproducing throughout the year in warmer climates.
How to Identify Whiteflies
Whiteflies ingest plant juices and in turn produce a sticky substance known as honeydew. Honeydew left on its own can cause fungal diseases to form on leaves. Plants will become extremely weak and may be unable to carry out photosynthesis. Leaves may dry out and turn yellow, and growth will be stunted. Check undersides of leaves around the veins for flies, even if they aren’t visible, feel leaf surfaces for honeydew.
Eggs are also laid on the undersides of leaves. Adult females can produce up to 400 eggs, which can hatch anytime between one week and a month. They are usually laid in a circular pattern.
How to get rid of Whiteflies
- Spray with insecticidal soap. Follow up twice or three times.
- Ladybugs and spiders may help control whitefly population.
- Some garden and hardware stores sell whitefly traps, which may be useful, although not as successful as insecticidal soap.
- Try this homemade mixture from the Almanac to control and deter whiteflies: In a 32-ounce spray bottle mix 2 parts rubbing alcohol, 5 parts water, and 1 tablespoon liquid soap. Spray the mixture on the foliage of garden plants that are susceptible to these pests.