How do you get rid of whiteflies on houseplants

How to Kill Whiteflies

The name “whitefly” is a bit of a misnomer. Yes, this insect is white but there is no “fly” in the family tree. Genetically, whiteflies are much closer to sap-sucking aphids and they bear a striking resemblance to very small moths. If you have a large infestation and you disturb the whiteflies, they’ll fly away and create a miniature snow storm of white flecks.

Whiteflies are also a bit sneaky. Adult whiteflies lay eggs on the underside of leaves. It could be argued that whiteflies “hide” their eggs there, and in many instances, the eggs do escape detection. The adult whitefly female can lay hundreds of eggs on the underside of leaves, usually in a circular pattern. In hotter weather, one whitefly can even go from egg stage to grown adult in just 16 days. Since whiteflies live for a month or two, in warmer climates and in greenhouses, the reproduction cycle is almost continuous and the growth of the population is geometric.

You’re likely to find whiteflies in warmer regions, including greenhouses. Then again, whiteflies are survivors, and they won’t turn away from cooler temperatures. They can attack fruits, vegetables and ornamental plants with equal enthusiasm. No matter where you live, it’s important to know how to kill whiteflies and protect your plants.

How to Protect Your Plants from Getting Infested with Whiteflies

Whiteflies take their nourishment from the host plant by sucking on plant juices. When a plant has multiple whiteflies attached, the plant becomes weak and is more prone to viral diseases that whiteflies carry. Whiteflies then turn the juices into a thick, gooey substance called honeydew. The honeydew attracts sooty mold and a blackish fungus — in some cases, the honeydew covers so much of the plant that they are not able to photosynthesize properly. If you find leaves that are damaged from whiteflies, cut them off immediately.

If you’re looking for other ways to control whiteflies, chemical pesticides are not always the best solution. There are two main drawbacks to this approach: 1) Whiteflies often develop a tolerance to the toxins, much like viruses mutate to make certain antibiotics ineffective. 2) Pesticides are indiscriminate killers. You want to kill whiteflies, but you want whitefly-destroying bugs to live.

Your best bet for stopping a whitefly infestation is to be vigilant before an infestation occurs. Do a thorough and careful inspection of all your plants twice a week — inspect them more frequently if you have experienced an outbreak. Remember that the pre-adult whiteflies are almost clear, so they appear to be the same color as the leaves. Be sure to check the undersides of leaves as well, since most whiteflies are drawn to this area.

8 Safe and Natural Ways for Getting Rid of Whiteflies

So what are the options for ridding your garden or home of a whitefly infestation? Here are some methods for killing whiteflies in the most effective, environmentally sensitive way. These can be done alone, but they can also be combined for greater impact:

1. Controls — Insecticidal soaps & neem oils are best if you have children & pets in the house. Both leave a small environmental footprint. Neem oils work by suffocating the insect, but you should follow the instructions exactly to prevent burning or scalding plants. Test plants by administering neem oil to a small section and waiting 24 hours to see if burning/scalding occurs. Soaps and oils kill on contact, so don’t forget to reapply two or three times. These solutions work best if the temperature is less than 90 degrees. Hotter temperatures also encourage browning or wilting leaves.

2. Aluminum Reflective Mulch — The mulch makes it difficult for whiteflies to find the host plants. They are, in a sense, blinded by the light. This approach is particularly good for protecting your vegetables from diseases that whiteflies can transmit.

3. Yellow Sticky Traps — Use these to collect whiteflies lurking among your crops. Not only will they capture annoying little whiteflies in your home or garden but will also get rid of aphids, thrips, leap miners, gnats and fruit flies. These flies are drawn to yellow and our Safer® Brand Sticky Whitefly Trap is sticky enough to catch the pests.

4. Water — Use a jet of water to blast whiteflies and wash them off your plants and leaves. You should then rub a weak solution of insecticidal soap onto the leaves in the late afternoon. Repeat this process every week to control and get rid of whiteflies.

5. Vacuum — This is one of the best ways to get rid of whiteflies on plants if the infestation is limited to a few plants or a small area.

6. Natural Predators — You can purchase spiders, female beetles, parasitic wasps and lacewings at most gardening shops and add them to your garden to battle whiteflies without hurting beneficial plants. While female beetles and lacewings eat the eggs of whiteflies, spiders “net” the grown whiteflies for food and parasitic wasps lay eggs inside the whitefly’s body. The larvae use the host insect as food before moving on to the adult phase.

However, ants are insects you don’t want if you have whiteflies. Ants eat the honeydew and they are focused on protecting this food source. If you’re introducing beneficial bugs to your garden, put ant traps at the stems of plants with whiteflies. You should also put traps under plants that are growing close to the infected ones.

7. Environmental Controls — Pruning the affected vegetation may be helpful in reducing whiteflies. Again, put ant baits on the ground to control ants.

8. Nitrogen Levels — Check the soil content of your garden or around trees to make sure you don’t have too much nitrogen in the soil. With good intentions, people may use fertilizer that has been highly enriched with nitrogen, only to be inadvertently creating an environment that’s conducive to whiteflies.

You can also consider growing your young plants indoors until they are big enough to survive an attack. This is usually in late winter to early spring, depending on your location. If you can’t keep your young plants inside, cover them with something that lets the sun in but keeps the whiteflies out.

Symptoms of Whitefly Damage

Whiteflies, in both the nymph and adult stages, feed on plants by sucking juices from the plant tissue. As a result, an infected plant may not appear to be fully developed.

Another symptom is honeydew, a sticky material, that is secreted on the plant leaves by the whiteflies.

Results of Whitefly Infestation

Plants may become weakened from the feeding of whiteflies. They may become so weakened that they may become more susceptible to disease or they may even die.

The honeydew whiteflies secrete can attract black fungus and sooty mold.

Viral diseases can be transported by whiteflies, resulting in severe damage or death to the plant.

Controls

What?

The use of insecticidal soaps and neem oil are two excellent methods of dealing with soft-bodied, garden insects such as whiteflies.

How?

Neem oil products work by suffocating the insect. Use all neem oil products by following the instructions since, as an oil, there is greater risk of phototoxicity (burning). Avoid using sulfur based fungicides within the active period (5-7 days) of the neem oil product. These two products combined greatly increase the risk of plant burn.

Safer® Brand offers a variety of whitefly control products to help control and eliminate this garden pest and revive your plants. Please check out our whitefly control products for more details about how they work and how, when, where they should be applied.

Carefully read and follow all instructions on the product packaging for best results. It is recommended with any pesticide to test plants for sensitivity to the product. Spray a small section of the plant in an inconspicuous area and wait 24 hours before applying full coverage.

When?

Since these formulas are contact killers and they do not persist in the environment, several applications may be needed for control. As a general rule, much like watering, do not use these products in the peak of the day or when temperatures exceed 90 degrees F to avoid wilting or browning of the leaves.

Why Choose a Natural Solution?

Insecticidal soaps and neem oils can be used around children and pets. They break down into their natural elements within 7 to 10 days leaving no residual impact on the environment.

They are highly preferable to synthetic pesticides with toxins that can kill beneficial insects and cause long-term detrimental effects on the environment. Another negative effect of the chemical pesticides is the whiteflies’ possible buildup of resistance to the chemicals in the pesticides.

Managing Whiteflies on Indoor and Outdoor Plants

Bruce A. Barrett
Division of Plant Sciences

Whiteflies are closely related to aphids, mealybugs and scale, all of which feed by sucking sap from plants. Whiteflies can be found on the undersides of leaves and are active during the daytime when the temperature is warm. When a heavily infested plant is disturbed, white clouds of winged adults fly into the air.

Some species of whiteflies can become serious pests of certain vegetable crops, greenhouse plants or ornamental plants. Two of the most important species are the greenhouse whitefly, Trialeurodes vaporariorum, and the sweet potato whitefly, Bemisia tabaci. In colder climates, whiteflies die outdoors, but in warmer climates, as well as indoors and in greenhouses, they can reproduce throughout the year with several overlapping generations.

Biology

Adult whiteflies are about 1/10 to 1/16 inch long and look like tiny moths (Figure 1). They have four broad, delicate wings that are held rooflike over the body and covered with a white powdery wax. Adult females usually lay between 200 and 400 eggs. Sometimes the eggs are deposited in a circular pattern in groups of 30 to 40 because the female will often keep her mouthparts in the plant to feed while moving her abdomen in a circle.

Within about a week, the eggs hatch into flattened nymphs, called crawlers, that wander about the plant. Soon, they insert their mouthparts into the plant and begin to feed. After their first molt, the nymphs lose their legs and antennae. They attach themselves to the undersides of leaves with several waxlike rods coming from their bodies, giving them the appearance of small white oval scale. The nymphs remain fixed to the plant and feed for about four weeks. After a pupa stage, the adults emerge and live for about one month. Within a population, all life stages are present, and generations often overlap.

Figure 1
An adult whitefly.

Damage

Whiteflies damage plants by sucking out plant juices. Because large amounts of sap can be removed, primarily by the developing nymphs, heavily infested plants can be seriously weakened and grow poorly. Leaves often turn yellow, appear dry and drop prematurely (Figure 2).

Also, whiteflies suck out more plant juice than they can digest, and they excrete the excess as a sweet, sticky substance called honeydew. The honeydew covers leaf surfaces and acts as a growth medium for a black, sooty mold. Both the removal of plant juices and the presence of the black, sooty mold growing on the honeydew can interfere with photosynthesis.

In some parts of the country, some species of whitefly can transmit several plant viruses.

Figure 2
Whiteflies suck out plant juices. This seriously weakens the plant.

Control

Cultural control
Ornamental plants in or around the home and plants in greenhouses or gardens often become infested with whiteflies through the introduction of infested plants. A slight infestation from one plant can quickly spread to other plants. Inspect all new plants thoroughly, and isolate them for a few days before placing them among established plants. During this isolation period, inspect the plants and treat those infested.

Inspect plants regularly, and remove by hand older leaves that are heavily infested with whiteflies in the nonmobile nymphal and pupal stages.

Biological control
Whiteflies have many natural enemies in the garden setting, such as spiders, lady beetles and lacewings. However, frequent or widespread use of insecticides to control other garden pests prevents these predators from effectively controlling whitefly populations

The tiny parasitoid Encarsia formosa has been used successfully in managing whitefly populations in greenhouses and conservatories for many years. However, in an outdoor setting where favorable temperature and light conditions cannot be maintained, use of E. formosa is limited. E. formosa is available from commercial suppliers.

Mechanical control
The use of traps can be very helpful in controlling light infestations of whiteflies in greenhouses. You can make a trap from a 12-by-6-inch strip of cardboard or strong poster board. Paint both sides bright yellow and coat with a sticky substance, such as Tanglefoot, petroleum jelly, petroleum jelly/mineral oil mix, mineral oil or a heavy-grade motor oil (SAE 90). Hang the trap vertically or support it on stakes just above the plants. The adults are attracted to the yellow color and become trapped on the sticky substance. Whitefly traps are available commercially also.

The use of yellow traps outside may have limited value because of the large number of traps required. One trap for every two large vegetable plants is recommended. Clean the traps periodically to remove insects and other debris, and apply fresh adhesive to the yellow surface. To avoid trapping too many of the whitefly’s natural enemies, use traps when whiteflies first start to appear, but remove them when the whitefly population seems to be decreasing.

Another mechanical technique that can help control whiteflies is to vacuum them with a small, hand-held vacuum cleaner. Vacuum the adult whiteflies in the early morning when the temperature is cool and they are slow-moving. Put the vacuum bag containing the insects (not the vacuum cleaner itself) inside a large plastic bag and freeze for 24 hours to kill the insects. Vacuuming adults is most helpful and effective when an infestation is just starting and when the adults have not laid many eggs.

Chemical control
In many cases, controlling whiteflies with insecticides has been difficult because they have developed resistance to some chemicals. Because of this resistance, a certain product may work well in one area but not in another. Resistance may be delayed by alternating the types of chemicals used. In addition, the eggs and nonfeeding pupae are generally not as susceptible to insecticides as are the nymphs and adults. Consequently, eradication of a whitefly population usually requires four to five applications of a registered insecticide at five- to seven-day intervals. Be sure the applications are made to the lower leaf surface. Apply the insecticide as soon as whiteflies are detected; do not wait until populations become severe.

Over-the-counter insecticides commonly used for whitefly control include neem oil, insecticidal soap, horticultural oil, pyrethrins, permethrin, imidacloprid and malathion.

Before you use any insecticide for whitefly control, make sure that both the site and the target plant are listed on the label. Follow label directions carefully.

  • Vacuum them away: Use your vacuum cleaner’s hose attachment to hoover up adult whiteflies (but be careful not to damage the plant). Make sure that any newly hatched whiteflies can’t escape from your vacuum bag.
  • Sticky tape: The same sticky tape that works for houseflies can be used for whiteflies. Hang it from the infected plant if possible, and follow label directions.
  • Insecticidal soap: Buy insecticidal soaps, such as Safer’s Insecticidal Soap, or make your own by using a dish detergent such as Ivory Liquid. Try to find a product free from perfumes and additives that might harm plants. Mix the soap in a weak concentration with water (starting a 1 teaspoon per gallon and increasing as necessary). Spray on plants. This will help control the population but it’s unlikely to wipe them out.
  • Neem oil: Neem oil is derived from the neem tree. In addition to its insecticidal properties, neem is also a fungicide and has systemic benefits, meaning the plant absorbs it so it can control insects it doesn’t directly contact. According to the Environmental Protection Association, neem is safe for use on vegetables and food plants as well as ornamentals. Like insecticidal soap, neem is useful for controlling whitefly populations but might not eliminate the problem.
  • Kitchen insect spray: This all-purpose insect spray was developed by the editors of Organic Gardening magazine. To make a batch, combine one garlic bulb, one small onion, and 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a food processor or blender and process into a paste. Mix into 1 quart of water and steep for one hour. Strain through a cheesecloth and add 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap. Mix well. The mixture can be stored for up to one week in the refrigerator.

How do I control whiteflies on houseplants?

Whiteflies are common insect pests of hibiscus, poinsettia, chrysanthemum, and a number of other indoor plants. They are most often noticed when watering or handling a plant. When disturbed, whiteflies flutter about the plant for a short time before returning to the plant.

Whitefly adults are tiny, white, moth-like insects. Female adults lay eggs on the undersides of the plant’s foliage. After 5 to 7 days, the eggs hatch into tiny, pale green, immatures called nymphs. The nymphs crawl a short distance before settling down to feed for 2 to 3 weeks. After feeding for 2 to 3 weeks, the nymphs progress to a nonfeeding stage and then finally to the adult stage.

The nymph and adult stages of whiteflies feed by inserting their short, needle-like beaks into foliage and sucking out plant sap. Heavy whitefly infestations often cause stunting or yellow of leaves, leaf drop, and a decline in plant health.

Whiteflies on houseplants are extremely difficult to control. Prevention is the best management strategy. Carefully check newly purchased plants and plants brought indoors from the garden or patio in the fall. Indoors, isolate these plants from other houseplants. Frequently check the new arrivals. Begin control measures at the first sign of a whitefly infestation. One way to reduce the whitefly population on an infested plant is to wash the undersides of the leaves with a moist cloth or sponge. Unfortunately, washing is labor intensive and only practical for small plants. Insecticides are another control option. Insecticides must be applied uniformly and frequently (at weekly intervals) to the undersides of the plant’s foliage. Apply insecticides specifically labeled for use on houseplants. Carefully read and follow label directions. It’s usually best to discard heavily infested plants to prevent the whiteflies from spreading to other indoor plants.

Controlling Whiteflies in Your Garden

Controlling Whiteflies in your Garden

All whiteflies suffer from an identity crisis, as they are not “true” flies at all. Their appearance resembles tiny, pure white “moths” but they are in fact, closely related to sap-sucking aphids. Aphid-cast skins can easily be mistaken for whitefly, but whitefly will quickly flutter up and fly away when disturbed.

Their quick flight pattern coupled with the fact that they hide on the underside of leaves make them difficult to control. Whiteflies are also prolific because their numbers increase from two to four, four becomes eight, eight becomes 16 and so on. During the hottest part of the summer, whiteflies may mature from the egg stage to an adult (ready to lay more eggs) in as few as 16 days.

Whiteflies can cause two types of damage to a plant. The first is considered to be “direct” damage. Whiteflies can seriously injure plants by sucking juices from them, causing leaves to yellow, shrivel, and drop prematurely. If the numbers of whiteflies per leaf are great enough, it could possibly lead to plant death. The second, which is known as “indirect” damage, is caused by the whitefly adults. They can transmit several viruses from diseased to healthy plants through their mouthparts. Whiteflies (just like aphids) excrete “honeydew,” a sweet substance that forms a sticky coating on leaves. The honeydew is soon colonized by a fungus called “sooty mold,” making leaves look black and dirty. Generally sooty mold is harmless except when it is extremely abundant and prevents light from reaching leaf surfaces, causing plants to become stressed. Sooty mold can easily be washed off with a forceful stream of water on sturdy plants.

Often times if there are high populations of whiteflies most likely there are also an abundance of ants present. Argentine ants love to feed on honeydew, and to ensure a continuing supply, they protect whiteflies from their natural enemies (beneficials).

DETECTION

Probably the most common whitefly in California is the greenhouse whitefly. It is distributed throughout the state and is commonly found in outdoor plantings, inside greenhouses, and occasionally on indoor houseplants. Whiteflies, like many insects, have immature (nymphs) and adult stages. Adults lay eggs randomly, in circles or arcs on the underside of leaves where they spend their entire life cycle. Whitefly nymphs have small, oval bodies and no wings and no apparent legs or antennae. The adults that emerge form mature nymphs are winged and look like a very tiny moth.

GIANT WHITEFLY Aleurodicus dugesii

The giant whitefly or Mexican whitefly has been moving into California and is making an unsightly mess of hibiscus and other landscape ornamentals. It was first discovered in San Diego County in 1992. It is now found in Southern California, parts of Arizona, Louisiana, Texas, and Florida. Giant whitefly gets its name from its large size relative to many other whitefly species. This species can be identified by spirals of wax which are deposited by adults as they walk on leaves. These deposits occur on both upper and lower leaf surfaces. Eggs are often laid amongst these waxy deposits. The nymphs produce long, hair-like filaments of wax up to 2 inches long. These filaments give a bearded appearance to affected leaves.

Avoid attractive host plants. Giant whitefly finds hibiscus, giant bird of paradise, orchid tree, banana, mulberry and certain varieties of citrus and avocados extremely attractive. If these plants are already in your existing landscape closely monitor the plants to detect early infestations. Control of this newly introduced pest will require early detection, rigorous sanitation, and washing off plants with a forceful stream of water (syringing).

PREVENTION

  • Learn to recognize beneficial insects. Among the most important natural enemies of whiteflies are the tiny parasitic wasps that lay their eggs inside the bodies of whiteflies. These tiny wasps cannot sting people.
  • Attract beneficials to your garden by planting a wide variety of flowering plants or certain insectory plants (See article or fact sheet in this series called “Naturally Managing Pests… With a Healthy Garden”) can provide beneficial insects with the habitant they need (food and shelter). Natural enemies that attack many whiteflies are small birds, spiders, lacewings, ladybugs, and big eyed bugs.
  • Inspect new plants carefully. Don’t purchase infected plants.
  • Hang sticky traps above the plants at the beginning of the season to detect an invasion early.
  • Use slow-release fertilizers. Maintain healthy plant growth, but do not over-fertilize with high nitrogen fertilizers. Too much nitrogen can overstimulate succulent plant growth, prompting some aphids to reproduce more quickly. Organic fertilizers are better because they slowly release moderate levels of nutrients.
  • Avoid excessive pruning because it stimulates whitefly-attracting growth.
  • Use a row cover (such as FastStart®) to exclude whitefly and other pests but allow air, light, and irrigation water to reach plants.
  • Control ants by spraying or painting a 4” wide sticky barrier (such as Tanglefoot ®, Stickem ®, Tree Pest Barrier) around woody shrubs or trees. (See the Ant article or fact sheet in this series.) For many sensitive trees, such as citrus, a protective barrier of white latex paint should be appliedto the trunk before sticky barrier.

LESS-TOXIC CONTROLS

  • Syringe undersides of leaves on sturdy plants with water to wash off whiteflies and honeydew. In University of California studies, side-by-side comparisons with several pesticides indicated that syringing performed as well or better than chemical treatments.
  • Vacuum whiteflies in the early morning when they are cold and slow moving. This removes adults before they have a chance to lay more eggs. After vacuuming, empty the vacuum bag into a sealed plastic bag and removed from the property.
  • Prune away severely infested portions of the plant. The removed material should be placed and sealed in plastic bags and removed from the property. Dispose of properly and do not compost.
  • Purchase Beneficial insects. One tiny black ladybug Delphastus is a voracious feeder and can consume up to 150 whitefly eggs in a day. These extremely mobile, small black beetles are usually used in greenhouse environments. For outdoors, release the beetle under a row cover (like FastStart®) which will concentrate its efforts in that particular area. Another important predator and parasitoid of whiteflies is the tiny wasp Encarsia formosa. Encarsia wasps kill whitefly nymphs in one of two ways: they either lay an egg inside the nymph(which provides food for their young) or they kill the nymph right away and feed on it. Once the whitefly nymphs are parasitised they turn black and no longer feed.
  • Use insecticidal soaps to kill whiteflies on contact while causing less harm to beneficial insects. Good coverage of the underside of leaves is essential for effective use. These products do not leave toxic residues, sparing injury to the natural enemies.
  • Use spray (horticultural) oils to control whiteflies minimizing adverse effects on natural enemies
  • Imidicloprid is a product that has come out recently, has proven to be very effective on whiteflies, and is low in toxicity. It is mixed with water and used as a drench on the base of the plants (use when your plant is rather thirsty) and the roots absorbs it up into the plant. It only has to be used annually. Follow manufacturers instructions.
  • To protect bees, avoid applying imidacloprid during the period 1 month prior to or during bloom. Removing blossoms before they open on young trees will prevent honey bee exposure to imidacloprid in the nectar/pollen.

For more information:

The Ventura Certified Master Gardener Program, operated by the University of California Cooperative Extension, provides a free assistance Helpline and offers a variety of workshops, email at [email protected],edu or call us (805) 645-1455.

Check these websites:

  • http://www. watoxics.org

Sources for Beneficial Insects:

  • Buena BioSystems – 805/525-2525
  • Rincon-Vitova Insectaries – 805/643-6267
  • Tip Top Bio-Control – 805/445-9001

How to Manage Pests

Pests in Gardens and Landscapes

Whiteflies

Revised 9/15

In this Guideline:

  • Identification and life cycle
  • Damage
  • Management
  • About Pest Notes
  • Publication
  • Glossary

Adult greenhouse whiteflies on undersides of leaves.

Sweetpotato whitefly adults and nymphs.

Encarsia inaron parasite laying an egg in an ash whitefly nymph.

A parasite has emerged from the round hole in the whitefly nymph at the bottom.

Greenhouse whitefly nymphs turn black when they are parasitized.

Whiteflies are tiny, sap-sucking insects that may become abundant in vegetable and ornamental plantings, especially during warm weather. They excrete sticky honeydew and cause yellowing or death of leaves. Outbreaks often occur when the natural biological control is disrupted. Management is difficult once populations are high.

IDENTIFICATION AND LIFE CYCLE

Despite their name, whiteflies are not true flies (in the insect order Diptera) but are in the order Hemiptera, related to aphids, scales and mealybugs. They derive their name from the mealy white wax covering the adult’s wings and body. Adults are tiny insects with yellowish bodies and four whitish wings. Although adults of some species have distinctive wing markings, many species are most readily distinguished in the last nymphal (immature) stage, which is wingless and lacks visible legs. Depending on species, whitefly nymphs vary in color from almost transparent yellow or whitish to black with a white fringe (Table 1).

Whiteflies develop rapidly in warm weather, and populations can build up quickly in situations where natural enemies are ineffective and when weather and host plants favor outbreaks. Large colonies often develop on the undersides of leaves. The most common pest species­—such as greenhouse whitefly (Trialeurodes vaporariorum) and sweetpotato whitefly (Bemisia tabaci)—have a wide host range that includes many weeds and crops. These species breed all year round in warmer parts of California, moving from one host to another as plants are harvested or dry up.

Another species of whitefly with a broad host range is the giant whitefly, Aleurodicus dugesii, which invaded Southern California in the early 1990s. It is now found in coastal areas and interior valleys in much of the state on a number of tropical and semi-tropical ornamental species. For more information on this species, see Pest Notes: Giant Whitefly. Other species of whiteflies, especially those on woody species, often have a more limited host range. Table 1 lists common whiteflies in California gardens and landscapes.

Whiteflies normally lay their tiny oblong eggs on the undersides of leaves. The eggs hatch, and the young whiteflies gradually increase in size through four nymphal stages called instars. The first nymphal stage (crawler) is barely visible even with a hand lens. The crawlers move around for several hours before settling to begin feeding. Later nymphal stages are immobile, oval, and flattened, with greatly reduced legs and antennae, like small scale insects. The winged adult emerges from the last nymphal stage (sometimes called a pupa, although whiteflies don’t have a true complete metamorphosis). All stages feed by sucking plant juices from leaves and excreting excess liquid as drops of honeydew as they feed.

DAMAGE

Whiteflies use their piercing, needlelike mouthparts to suck sap from phloem, the food-conducting tissues in plant stems and leaves. Large populations can cause leaves to turn yellow, appear dry, or fall off plants. Like aphids, whiteflies excrete a sugary liquid called honeydew, so leaves may be sticky or covered with black sooty mold that grows on honeydew (See Pest Notes: Sooty Mold). The honeydew attracts ants, which interfere with the activities of natural enemies that may control whiteflies and other pests.

Feeding by the immature sweetpotato whitefly, Bemisia tabaci, can cause plant distortion, discoloration, or silvering of leaves, and may cause serious losses in some vegetable crops. Some whiteflies transmit viruses to certain vegetable crops. Whiteflies are not normally a problem in fruit trees although their populations can build up in citrus, pomegranate and avocado.

Several whitefly species occur on ornamental trees and shrubs (see Table 1), but most are uncommon because of natural controls such as parasites and predators. Most whiteflies on trees have limited host ranges. Low levels of whiteflies are not usually damaging. Adults by themselves will not cause significant damage unless they are transmitting a plant pathogen. Generally, plant losses do not occur unless there is a significant population of whitefly nymphs.

MANAGEMENT

Management of heavy whitefly infestations is difficult. The best strategy is to prevent problems from developing in your garden or landscape. In many situations, natural enemies will provide adequate control of whiteflies; outbreaks often occur when natural enemies are disrupted by insecticide applications, dusty conditions, or interference by ants. Avoid or remove plants that repeatedly host high populations of whiteflies.

In gardens, whitefly populations in the early stages of population development can be held down by a vigilant program of removing infested leaves or hosing down with water sprays. Reflective mulches can repel whiteflies from vegetable gardens, and yellow sticky traps can be used to monitor or, at high levels, reduce whitefly numbers. If you choose to use insecticides, insecticidal soaps or oils such as neem oil may reduce but not eliminate populations. Systemic insecticides may be more effective but can have negative impacts on beneficial insects and pollinators.

Table 1. Major Economic Hosts of Some Common Whiteflies.

Ash whitefly
(Siphoninus phillyreae)

Host plants: many broadleaved trees and shrubs including ash, citrus, Bradford pear and other flowering fruit trees, pomegranate, redbud, toyon.

Characteristics: Fourth-instar nymphs have a very thick band of wax down the back and a fringe of tiny tubes, each with a liquid droplet at the end. Adults are white. Ash whitefly is now under good biological control in CA, so it is rarely seen in high numbers.

Greenhouse whitefly
(Trialeurodes vaporariorum)

Host plants: very broad including most vegetables and herbaceous ornamentals. Also may occur on avocado, fuchsia, gardenia, lantana and redbud.

Characteristics: Fourth-instar nymphs have very long waxy filaments and a marginal fringe. Adults have white wings and a yellow surface or substrate.

Bandedwinged whitefly
(Trialeurodes abutilonea)

Host plants: very broad including cotton, cucurbits, other vegetables.

Characteristics: Fourth-instar nymphs have short, waxy filaments around their edges. Adults have brownish bands across the wings, and their body is gray.

Iris whitefly
(Aleyrodes spiraeoides)

Host plants: iris, gladiolus, many vegetables, cotton and other herbaceous plants.

Characteristics: Fourth-instar nymphs have no fringe or waxy filaments but are located near distinctive circles of wax where egg laying took place. Adults have a dot on each wing and are quite waxy.

Citrus whitefly
(Dialeurodes citri)

Host plants: citrus, gardenia, ash, ficus, pomegranate.

Characteristics: Fourth-instar nymphs have no fringe around their edges but have a distinctive Y-shape on their backs. Adults are white.

Mulberry whitefly
(Tetraleurodes mori)

Host plants: avocado, citrus, mulberry, other trees.

Characteristics: Nymphs have blackish, oval bodies with white, waxy fringe. Adults have reddish to gray wing markings.

Crown whitefly
(Aleuroplatus coronata)

Host plants: oak, chestnut.

Characteristics: Fourth-instar nymphs are black with large amounts of white wax arranged in a crownlike pattern. Adults are white.

Sweetpotato whitefly
(Bemisia tabaci)

Host plants: very broad including many herbaceous and some woody plants including cole crops, cotton, cucurbits, tomatoes, peppers, crape myrtle, lantana, roses, and hibiscus.

Characteristics: Fourth-instar nymphs have no waxy filaments or marginal fringe. Adults have white wings and yellow body; they hold their wings slightly tilted to surface or substrate.

Giant whitefly
(Aleurodicus dugesii)

Host plants: avocado, begonia, hibiscus, giant bird of paradise, orchid tree, banana, mulberry, vegetables, and many ornamentals.

Characteristics: Adults are up to 0.19 inch long. They leave spirals of wax on leaves. Nymphs have long filaments of wax that can be up to 2 inches long and give leaves a bearded appearance. For more information, see Pest Notes: Giant Whitefly.

Woolly whitefly
(Aleurothrixus floccosus)

Host plants: citrus, eugenia.

Characteristics: Nymphs are covered with fluffy, waxy filaments. Adults are white.

Biological Control

Whiteflies have many natural enemies, and outbreaks frequently occur when these natural enemies have been disturbed or destroyed by pesticides, dust buildup, or other factors.

General predators include lacewings, bigeyed bugs, and minute pirate bugs. Several small lady beetles including Clitostethus arcuatus (on ash whitefly) and scale predators, such as Scymnus or Chilocorus species, and the Asian multicolored lady beetle, Harmonia axyridis, feed on whiteflies.

Whiteflies have a number of naturally occurring parasites that can be very important in controlling some species. Encarsia spp. parasites are commercially available for release in greenhouse situations; however, they are not generally recommended for outdoor use because they are not well adapted for survival in temperate zones.

You can evaluate the degree of natural parasitization in your plants by checking empty whitefly pupal cases. Those that were parasitized will have round or oval exit holes and those from which a healthy adult whitefly emerged will have a T-shaped exit hole. Whitefly nymphs can sometimes be checked for parasitization before emergence by noting a darkening in their color. However, some whitefly parasites do not turn hosts black; and some species of whitefly nymphs that occur on ornamentals are black in their healthy, unparasitized state.

Avoiding the use of insecticides that kill natural enemies is a very important aspect of whitefly management. Products containing carbaryl, pyrethroids, or imidaclo­prid (especially as a foliar application) can be particularly disruptive. Control of dust and ants, which protect whiteflies from their natural enemies, can also be important, especially in citrus or other trees.

Removal

Hand removal of leaves or plants heavily infested with the nonmobile nymphal and pupal stages may reduce populations to levels that natural enemies can contain. Remove and destroy whitefly-infested vegetable plants after harvest. Always inspect new plants for whiteflies and nymphs before introducing them in the greenhouse or garden.

If you have evergreen perennial plants that consistently host high populations of whiteflies in the winter season, then you may wish to remove these plants to lower overwintering populations. If you have high populations of whiteflies in a greenhouse, removing all host plants from the greenhouse for at least 2 weeks (and assuring that no whiteflies can enter from outside) may eliminate problems.

Water sprays (syringing) may also be useful in dislodging adults. Watering can also reduce the hot, dry dusty conditions that favor whiteflies and inhibit their natural enemies.

Reflective Mulches

Shiny metallic-coated construction paper or reflective plastic mulches can repel whiteflies, especially away from small plants. Alternatively, you can spray clear plastic mulch with silver paint. Reflective plastic mulches are available online and in some garden stores.

When putting a reflective mulch in your garden, first remove all weeds. Place the mulch on the plant beds and bury the edges with soil to hold them down. After the mulch is in place, cut 3- to 4-inch diameter holes and plant several seeds or single transplants in each one. You may be able to furrow irrigate or sprinkle your beds if you use coated construction paper or other porous mulch if it is sturdy enough to tolerate sprinkling. Plastic mulches will require drip irrigation.

In addition to repelling whiteflies, aphids, and leafhoppers, the mulch will enhance crop growth and control weeds. Reflective mulches have been shown to deter pests that transmit viruses in commercial vegetable crops, perhaps helping to reduce disease incidence and crop loss. When summertime temperatures get high, remove mulches to prevent overheating plants.

Traps

In vegetable gardens, yellow sticky traps can be posted around the garden to trap adults. Such traps won’t eliminate damaging populations but may reduce them somewhat as a component of an integrated management program relying on multiple tactics. Whiteflies do not fly very far, so many traps may be needed. You may need as many as one trap for every two large plants, with the sticky yellow part of the trap level with the whitefly infestation. Place traps with the sticky side facing plants but out of direct sunlight.

Traps are most useful for monitoring and detecting whiteflies rather than controlling them. Commercial traps or sticky cards are available in stores and online. Additionally, you can make traps out of 1/4-inch plywood or masonite board, painted bright yellow, and mounted on pointed wooden stakes. Drive stakes into the soil close to the plants that are to be protected. Although commercially available sticky materials such as Tanglefoot are commonly used as coatings for the traps, you might want to try to make your own adhesive from one-part petroleum jelly or mineral oil and one-part household detergent. This material can be easily cleaned off boards with soap and water, whereas a commercial solvent must be used to remove the other adhesives. Periodic cleaning is essential to remove insects and debris from the boards and maintain the sticky surface.

Insecticide Sprays

Whiteflies can be difficult to control with insecticides. Most less-toxic products such as insecticidal soaps, neem oil, or petroleum-based oils control only those whiteflies that are directly sprayed. Therefore, plants must be thoroughly covered with the spray solution, and repeat applications may be necessary. Be sure to cover undersides of all infested leaves; usually these are the lowest leaves and the most difficult to reach. Use soaps or oils when plants are not drought-stressed and when temperatures are under 90°F to prevent possible “burn” damage to plants. Early evening, when there is enough light to safely apply products but when the sun is not shining directly on plants, may be a good time to spray.

The soil-applied systemic insecticide imidacloprid can control whitefly nymphs. Imidacloprid can have negative impacts on natural enemies, honey bees and other pollinators in the garden, especially when applied as a foliar spray or as a soil application to plants that are flowering or soon to be flowering. It can also cause outbreaks of spider mites. Reserve its use for special situations where these problems can be avoided. Avoid using other pesticides (other than soaps and oils) to control whiteflies; not only do most of them kill natural enemies, whiteflies quickly build up resistance to them, and most are not very effective in garden situations.

WARNING ON THE USE OF PESTICIDES

Bellows, T. S., J. N. Kabashima, and K. Robb. May 2006. Pest Notes: Giant Whitefly. Oakland: Univ. Calif. Agric. Nat. Res. Publ. 7400.

Flint, M. L. 1998. Pests of the Garden and Small Farm. 2nd ed. Oakland: Univ. Calif. Agric. Nat. Res. Publ. 3332.

Laemmlen, F. F. July 2011. Pest Notes: Sooty Mold. Oakland: Univ. Calif. Agric. Nat. Res. Publ. 74108.

PUBLICATION INFORMATION

Pest Notes: Whiteflies

UC ANR Publication 7401

Author: M.L. Flint, Extension Entomologist Emerita, Department of Entomology, UC Davis

Produced by University of California Statewide IPM Program

PDF: To display a PDF document, you may need to use a PDF reader.

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Whiteflies are tiny white flying bugs in houseplants, and they are very common plant pests. Don’t worry, you can get rid of whiteflies on plants! Follow these organic whitefly treatment methods to kill them now, and learn how to eliminate whiteflies FOR GOOD!

What Do Whiteflies Look Like?

As the name would suggest, whiteflies look like tiny white flies in houseplants. They are easy to identify because the adults will fly around when the leaves of an infested plant are disturbed.

In fact, you probably won’t even notice the infestation until you disturb the plant, and start choking on a cloud of tiny white bugs.

<cough, cough>

If you see little white bugs on plants, but they don’t fly around, then you may have mealybugs instead of whiteflies. Here’s how to get rid of mealybugs on your houseplants.

Otherwise, if the bugs start flying around when you disturb the plant, those are definitely whiteflies so keep on reading…

What do whiteflies look like? Tiny white bugs on indoor plants

Whitefly Life Cycle

The full whitefly life cycle takes about 4-6 weeks. There are more than three stages in a the whitefly life cycle, but the three main ones are the eggs, nymphs and adults.

Female adult whiteflies lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves. Flip a leaf over and take a close look; the eggs, nymphs and adults are small but easy to see.

Unfortunately, the nymph whiteflies cause the most damage to the plant. So, by the time you notice the adults flying around, there’s probably already been major damage to your plant.

Whitefly Damage To A Houseplant

Whiteflies harm a houseplant by sucking the juices out of the leaves and flower buds, causing them to turn yellow and drop from the plant. This feeding occurs during both the nymph and adult stages of these plant bugs.

Heavy whitefly infestations can cause severe damage to a houseplant. If left untreated, whiteflies will eventually kill the plant.

It would take a long time for whiteflies to kill a large plant though, so this is usually more of a concern for small or weak plants and seedlings.

Related Post: How To Get Rid Of Spider Mites On Houseplants, For Good!

Whiteflies on hibiscus leaf

Where Do Whiteflies Come From?

Many times it seems like whiteflies come from nowhere. One day your houseplant is fine, and the next there are tons of tiny white bugs flying around, leaving many people wondering, what causes whiteflies in the first place?

Whiteflies can come from anywhere, but here are a few of the most common causes…

  • Bringing home a newly purchased plant that has whiteflies on it
  • Using contaminated potting soil
  • Putting houseplants outside during the summer
  • Bringing in fresh flowers, herbs, fruits or vegetables from the garden
  • Whiteflies could also easily come through window screens, since they are so small

How To Get Rid Of Whiteflies On Indoor Plants

As with any houseplant pest infestation, once you discover whiteflies, you’ll want to take action right away.

There are several organic whitefly control options, which I will share below. You can learn more about natural houseplant pest control remedies here.

I don’t recommend using synthetic chemical pesticides on any plant pests because they aren’t as effective (and they are also toxic to us and our pets too!).

Plus, houseplant pests like whiteflies can actually build up a tolerance to chemicals over time, making the problem even worse.

So skip the toxic chemical pesticides and choose safer, organic whitefly treatment methods instead. Here’s how to get rid of whiteflies organically…

How To Treat Whitefly Infestation

When it comes to how to kill whiteflies on your houseplants, you have to take a two-step approach, otherwise you won’t be able to get rid of them.

Since the adults will fly away from the plant when it’s disturbed, sprays will only work to kill the eggs and nymphs.

So first you need to treat the plant to kill the eggs and nymphs, and then use different methods to kill the adults in order to get rid of whiteflies for good.

Homemade whitefly spray kills nymph and eggs

How To Treat Whitefly Larvae & Eggs

It’s actually pretty easy to get rid of whitefly eggs, larvae and nymphs, they are easy to kill.

My home remedy for whiteflies on plants is to first use a homemade insecticidal soap to kill them, and then use a homemade neem oil spray to keep them away for good.

Remember, these treatments will only be effective on the eggs and nymphs, and the adults will fly away from the spray.

It’s a good idea to spray the entire plant, but be sure to focus your whitefly treatment sprays on the undersides of the leaves, because this is where whiteflies lay their eggs.

Homemade Insecticidal Soap For Whiteflies

Use a solution of soapy water, and spray it on the leaves of your infested plant. You can make your own using my recipe below, or you can buy a pre-mixed organic insecticidal soap instead.

If the plant is small enough, I will first bring it to the sink or shower and wash the leaves really well using my homemade whitefly spray, and then rinse the leaves to wash off as many of the eggs and larvae as I can.

Homemade insecticidal soap for whiteflies

My homemade insecticidal soap whitefly spray recipe:

  • 1 tsp of mild liquid soap
  • 1 liter of tepid water

Simply mix the ingredients and pour into a spray bottle, then spray directly on the plant leaves.

Keep in mind that some types of soap can damage the plant, so it’s best to test any type of pest control spray on a few leaves before spraying the entire plant.

Use Neem Oil For Whiteflies

Neem oil makes a wonderful natural spray for whitefly control that is very effective for eliminating them. It also has a residual effect that works as a whitefly repellent to keep them from coming back.

Use neem oil for whiteflies that have already infested your plants, or use it as a preventive pest control spray.

You can buy neem oil for pretty cheap, and a big bottle will last a long time. A pre-mixed horticultural oil or hot pepper wax spray can also be very effective when used directly on whiteflies.

My homemade neem oil whitefly spray recipe:

  • 1 1/2 tsp of organic neem oil concentrate
  • 1 tsp of mild liquid soap
  • 1 liter of tepid water

Mix all the ingredients together, pour into a spray bottle and spray directly on the leaves of your plants. Be sure to test this mixture on a leaf or two before spraying the whole plant to make sure it doesn’t harm your plant.

Read more about How To Use Neem Oil Insecticide On Plants

Using neem oil for whiteflies

In addition to cleaning and spraying the plant, you can trim off the most heavily infested leaves and throw them into the garbage (outside the house).

This can help get the whitefly infestation under control faster by eliminating many of the nymphs and eggs. Don’t cut all of the leaves off your plant though.

How To Kill Whitefly Adults

As I mentioned above, adult whiteflies are much more difficult to control than the nymphs and eggs. Whitefly adults can fly around and lay their eggs on other nearby houseplants, especially when you start treating the infested plant.

And, if you don’t get rid of the adults, your whitefly infestation will just keep coming back. Don’t worry, you can kill the adults too, here are a few simple and natural whitefly control methods to try…

Yellow Sticky Traps For Whiteflies

The best way to get rid of whiteflies is to use whitefly traps that are specifically designed to trap and kill the adults, which actually work very well. Whitefly sticky traps are also non-toxic, and safe to use indoors.

To control the adult whiteflies, simply hang a yellow sticky trap from the top branches of the plant, or use houseplant sticky stakes.

Yellow sticky traps for whiteflies

In very heavy infestations, you could also use a vacuum cleaner to capture the adults as they fly from the plant, but be careful not to suck up your plants leaves in the process.

Be sure to regularly inspect houseplants that are near the infested plant to see if the whiteflies have laid eggs on those plants too. Then continue to monitor other plants in the area until your whitefly infestation is completely gone.

How To Prevent Whiteflies From EVER Coming Back

It doesn’t take long to get an infestation under control using the whitefly pest control tips listed above, but you can’t just spray once and expect to magically get rid of these tiny white bugs on houseplants forever.

You have to be persistent or it can be very difficult to get rid of whiteflies for good.

Here are a few whitefly prevention tips to keep them from ever coming back…

  • After an infestation occurs, check your plants daily for signs of new whiteflies and treat them immediately
  • Quarantine all newly purchased houseplants for a few weeks to ensure they don’t have bugs on them
  • If you put any houseplants outside during the summer, be sure to clean and debug them before bringing them back indoors
  • Use neem oil as preventive pest control spray on plants that have recurring problems with whiteflies

Pest infestations on houseplants are no fun, and dealing with whiteflies can be difficult. Whatever type of pest control product you decide to use, you have to be diligent because whiteflies can be difficult to get rid of, especially if you have several houseplants.

Don’t worry, now that you know how to get rid of whiteflies on houseplants your persistence will pay off, so keep fighting the good fight!

If you’re tired of battling bug on your houseplants, then my houseplant pest control eBook is for you! In it you will learn how to identify and kill all of the most common houseplant pests, and get all of my secrets for how to keep bugs off indoor plants FOR GOOD! !

Products I Recommend

More About Houseplant Pests

  • Organic Insect Pest Control Supplies
  • How To Debug Plants Before Bringing Them Indoors
  • How To Get Rid Of Houseplant Bugs Naturally
  • Where Do Houseplant Pests Come From?

How do you get rid of whiteflies on plants? Share your houseplant pest control tips in the comments below.

Whitefly Indoors: Controlling Whiteflies In The Greenhouse Or On Houseplants

Whiteflies are the bane of nearly all indoor gardeners. There is a wide range of plants fed on by whiteflies; ornamental plants, vegetables, and houseplants are all affected by them. Their secretions can cause foliage to yellow and die. Controlling whiteflies is difficult but not impossible.

Controlling Whiteflies in the Greenhouse and Indoors

Effectively controlling whiteflies begins with familiarity of their life cycles, including various species. They deposit their eggs on the undersides of leaves, often in a circular or crescent-shaped pattern. Once hatched, they begin feeding on the plants until the adults emerge, whereupon they fly to nearby plants, lay eggs and repeat the cycle all over again. They can produce hundreds of eggs within a month or so. Since whiteflies are small in the early developmental stages, they are oftentimes difficult to detect.

However, adults, such as Silver-leaf whiteflies, are generally yellowish with white-colored wings. Their life cycle is completed in about 39 days or less. Adult greenhouse whiteflies are pale green or yellow. Their life cycle can last just 32 days. Banded-wing whiteflies can be

distinguished from dark bands on the wings. Depending on temperature, their life cycle completes within 16 to 35 days.

Whiteflies develop quickly in warmer conditions. Once inside a warm environment, whiteflies can wreak havoc on plants.

Whitefly Prevention

Prevention is also the key to controlling whiteflies. Close or screen all entry points to prevent whiteflies from entering. Clean and dispose of all weeds and other plant debris. Prior to bringing new plants inside, carefully inspect them for whiteflies beginning at the top and working down, paying special attention to the undersides of leaves where they feed and reproduce. Discard any affected plants.

Before repotting plants, allow containers to air out for at least a week. Apply insecticide (like neem oil or insecticidal soap) to remaining plants and those nearby; however, keep in mind that this may only reduce populations, not eliminate them. Insecticides have limited success on whiteflies in the greenhouse or indoors. Both the egg and pupa are tolerant of most insecticides.

When using pesticides for controlling whiteflies, read and follow the directions carefully. Be sure to cover all parts of the plant, especially the undersides of leaves. Continue to monitor plants frequently.

Use a Sticky Whitefly Trap

Whether you have whiteflies in the greenhouse, indoors or in your garden, yellow sticky traps can be used to monitor or reduce whitefly numbers. Whiteflies are attracted to the color and will stick to the adhesive surface. Monitor your whitefly trap frequently and replace as needed.

In addition to a whitefly trap, aluminum foil or reflective mulches can also be used to repel whiteflies from ornamental plants. Vigilant removal of infested leaves and hosing down with soapy water is helpful too. Using a small, handheld vacuum cleaner can be effective for removing the adult whitefly as well, especially during morning hours when they are sluggish. Place the vacuum bags in plastic, freezing overnight and disposing in the morning.

When it comes to whiteflies, ornamental plants, vegetables and your houseplants can be protected with a few simple steps.

Tiny whiteflies seem to be bugging people across the Central Coast, but why are there so many this year?

Tiny white bugs are flying around local streets in mass numbers and it has many people confused.

People are mistaking them for clouds of pollen or ash, but they are small bugs that could be harmful to your plants.

Some local garden masters say this year is bringing the most they have ever seen.
“I am seeing them all over,” said Michael McCombs. “It’s like a snowstorm coming at you.”

These little bugs called whitefly seem to be taking over central coast towns.

Okay I walked out of my house this morning and thought a cloud of pollen was in flying in front of me… NOPE!! It’s these little guys (whitefly) and they seem to be everywhere!! Have you seen them? @KSBY 10/11pm I’ll tell you why there are so many recently pic.twitter.com/MsGBFWnT4h

— Megan Healy (@HealyMegan) April 2, 2019

McCombs has lived in the area since 1946 and usually sees whitefly this time of year, but never this many.

“They will be so dense that you’ll get that feeling of maybe I should close my mouth,” said McCombs. “I know I’m going to suck down two or three of these.”

Whiteflies are tiny, sap-eating winged insects that damage the leaves of plants but don’t kill them.

A master gardener from the SLO University of California Cooperative Extension says dozens of people from south SLO County called asking why there are so many.

“It’s probably a reflection of the increasing temperatures coming on top of all that nice water we have had, so we have had a flush of vegetation and the flies that came from eggs originally have just all hopped out,” said Cathryn Howarth, a master gardener a the SLO County UC Cooperative Extension.

According to the UC Agricultural and Natural Resources Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, signs of whitefly manifestation include:

  • Tiny nymphs on the underside of leaves
  • Sticky honeydew (white, sticky substance) on leaves or a covering of black sooty mold
  • Yellowing or silvering or drying of leaves that have whitefly nymphs on them

She says each fly can lay up to 400 eggs.

Whiteflies seem to be hatching recently due to warmer temperatures and lots of rainfall.

You can usually find them on the back sides of leaves or flying in the air.

“They weaken the plants especially young seedlings, young plants that aren’t fully established, but on the whole they are usually more of a nuisance.”

Some species are attracted to plants like hibiscus flowers, oak trea leaves, tomatoes, eggplants, cabbage, bell peppers and sweet potatoes, but there are ways to keep them from harming your garden.

“I take a sprayer that’s got a mix of vinegar and household detergent in it and water of course and i try to spray it, the back sides of all the leaves,” said McCombs.

Experts say spraying with water will help the bugs disperse.

“Use a hose and hose them off and then use a spray of insecticidal soap if you want to cut down because they will return to their roost once you spray them away,” said Howarth.

You can also prevent them by using reflective mulches, avoiding dust, choosing less susceptible plants and eliminated pesticides that kill whitefly’s natural enemies.

Those natural enemies include ladybugs, spiders, lacewigs and hummingbirds.

Garden masters say you can generally see them during spring and throughout summer, but they will eventually die down.

They say if you have young plants, make sure you are watching out for them especially in the mornings and evenings.

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