The Whitefly belongs to the same group of insects as aphids and scales. It not only causes damage by feeding, but may also transmit plant viruses. Whiteflies are capable of rapid reproduction once summer heat arrives, intensifying infestations. The tiny, white insect is about 1/20 inch long. Mature adults look like tiny moths and are able to fly. Females usually lay between 200 and 400 eggs, and generations often overlap.
Signs Of Infestation
Whiteflies congregate on the undersides of leaves and swarm in clouds when the infested plant is disturbed. Give your plant a shake and you’ll know if Whiteflies are present.
Signs of a Whitefly infestation also include:
Nymphs that look like small, white, oval scale
Sticky honeydew left behind on leaves
Whiteflies Threaten A Wide Variety Of Plants
There are many species of Whitefly feeding on more than 500 species of host plants, including many ornamental and fruiting trees. Problem species include Citrus Whitefly, Ficus Whitefly, Ash Whitefly and Rugosa Spiraling Whitefly.
Common tree hosts include ash, avocado, chinaberry, citrus, fig, fringe tree, mulberry, privet and various palms. They also attack roses, hibiscus and other flowers. Damage to edible and ornamental plants is estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide.
Where Are Whiteflies Found?
Whiteflies can occur almost anywhere but are particularly troublesome in mild winter areas, such as Florida, Texas and California, where they can breed year-round.
You Can Help Stop Whiteflies
Beneficial insects can help control Whiteflies, but with severe infestations, insecticidal treatments may be necessary. The most effective are properly-labeled products containing the systemic insecticide imidacloprid, applied before populations reach high levels. Follow label instructions carefully.