If you see small white insects that look like flies on your plants, don’t worry. This could be a case of whitefly infestation.
What can you do with the whiteflies in your garden? Let’s find the answer through this article.
Whiteflies refer to winged and soft-bodied insects that have a strong connection to mealybugs and aphids. Although they are named after flies, they cannot be classified as a type of fly.
Whiteflies are small, triangular shaped insects. They are generally found in groups on leaves and their undersides.
Whiteflies are among the insects that are most active during the day. They scatter or spread out when disturbed, making them easier to spot. They are easier to detect compared to nocturnal insects and other pests.
Life Cycle Of Whiteflies
In the second half of spring, the adult whitefly population lays their eggs on the bottom of leaves. The typical way to do these is in concentric patterns near the top of the plant. An adult whitefly can produce 200-400 eggs.
In five to ten days, the whitefly eggs will hatch and turn into nymphs. In the first phase of their lives, nymphs are referred to as crawlers. After hatching, the baby flatworms move a short distance from their egg before flattening themselves against a leaf to feed. The larva goes through four stages, or instars, but after it has picked a location, it stays there for the rest of its time as a larva.
These nymphal stages can be hard to identify. Once they stop crawling and attach themselves to leaves, they look very similar to scale insects. Many times, the color of these insects match the leaves they are on, or is a little lighter in color.
After the nymphal stages have concluded, the whitefly will undergo metamorphosis into an adult. Within a week, the whitefly will shed its old skin and emerge as a new adult to begin reproducing. The adult lifespan of these whiteflies is only a couple of months.
Common Whitefly Species
There are many species of whiteflies, most of which only infest a few types of plants. A few species of these animals can cause problems in your garden by negatively affecting a huge number of plants.
There are a few species of whitefly that are particularly problematic. These include the greenhouse whitefly, the giant whitefly, the Silverleaf whitefly, and the banded winged whitefly. The most common species of whitefly in the Southern US is the Silverleaf whitefly. It is a bit smaller and has a more yellowish color than the other species.
This whitefly is the most important one for the economy in all of Texas. The Silverleaf whitefly is smaller than other whiteflies. Rather than holding their wings in an almost flat position when at rest like other whiteflies, the Silverleaf whitefly holds its wings in a roof-like position.
The adult Silverleaf whitefly is a small insect, typically around 0.8 to 1.2 millimeters long. Its wings are white and unmarked. Their bodies are also pale yellow.
The species that only appear occasionally can mostly be found in greenhouses. The adult whiteflies in this species are comparable in size to the Silverleaf whitefly. The wings of these insects are held almost parallel to their leaves when at rest, covering their abdomens.
You may find the banded winged whitefly in ornamentals such as hibiscus and some crops. Adults are usually larger than the greenhouse and silver species. The two gray bands in an irregular shape that appear in front of their two wings is how you can easily recognize them.
This species of whitefly is three times larger than other types of whiteflies. You can often see their wings overlapping during rest. They have a pair of wings that are mottled with gray markings.
Common Habitats For Whiteflies
Whiteflies spend most of their lives on or near the plants they feed on. Although adults can fly to find new plants on which to lay eggs, the nymphs stay on their food source. Then eggs hatch and nymphs emerge.
The nymphs spend the winter on the underside of leaves, where they are attached and feeding from their host plants. Although they can’t tolerate freezing conditions, they will die off if they are exposed to them.
Greenhouse temperatures are typically warm enough for whiteflies to survive, making them a common greenhouse pest. There is a species of whitefly known as the greenhouse whitefly, which typically lives its life on indoor plants!
Adult whiteflies cannot live for a long time without feeding on plant sap. If you have found very small white bugs on your plants, it is likely that they are whiteflies. They could be eating, laying eggs, or looking for shelter from bad weather.
Primary Causes of Whitefly Infestation
There are several possible causes of a whitefly-infested plant – among which are the following:
If this happens, it can lead to water stress in plants, which can create the perfect environment for an infestation. If you live in a place with dry and hot summers or you tend to forget to water other plants regularly, it can lead to dehydration. This may increase common greenhouse pest prevalence, including whitefly.
Excessive Use of Insecticides
The reason for this is that there are non-specific insecticides that do not target certain types of insects. If you use a large amount of pesticides in your garden, it is very likely that you will kill all of the small white flying bugs, including both the harmful and beneficial species.
Insecticide treatment to get rid of whiteflies may also kill other beneficial pests and insects that can repel them. If you use insecticides to kill the aphids in your garden, you will also end up killing the predators of the aphids, such as ladybugs and green lacewings. This will result in more whiteflies surviving and thriving in your garden.
Constant Use of Fertilizers Rich in Nitrogen
Nitrogen fertilizers can improve the overall health of your plant. Adding these fertilizers to your garden and flower beds will help them stay healthy.
Such fertilizers may also damage plants by encouraging whiteflies to attack them. If farmers use too much fertilizer, it will cause the concentration of nitrogen in plants to increase. This will make the plants more attractive to whiteflies, which will result in infestations happening more often. If you do this, it will only make the problem worse for the plants.
Other Possible Causes
While whiteflies come from various sources, other apparent triggers of their existence include the following:
- Taking a new plant with whiteflies home
- Use of contaminated potting soil
- Transferring houseplants outdoors once the summer season comes
- Taking herbs, fresh flowering plants, fruits, or veggies from your garden indoors
- The small sizes of whiteflies may also cause them to come indoors through the window screens, thereby penetrating your houseplants and indoor plants.
Signs of Whitefly-infested Plants
If you notice any of the following signs, your plant may have whitefly:
-Yellowing and wilting of leaves
-Sticky honeydew on leaves
-Black sooty mold on leaves
To detect the presence of whitefly, you should look out for yellowing and wilting of leaves, sticky honeydew on leaves, or black sooty mold on leaves. The honeydew substance produced by whiteflies can cause the leaves of your plant to feel sticky.
The likelihood of the sticky substance attracting black sooty mold is high. The black sooty mold can make the leaves look unattractive. A large infestation of whiteflies may also cause huge groups of tiny white bugs to crawl on the undersides of the plants’ leaves.
Since whiteflies release honeydew, there are more ants appearing since they feed on the sticky substance. Ants are attracted to the sweet substance that the whitefly produces.
Whiteflies may also cause other plants to grow more slowly than usual. Whether the whiteflies around your house are young or old, they will still feed on your houseplants’ sap, sucking all of their nutrients. No longer having any energy for proper and healthy growth, the plant would be weakened if whiteflies fed on the plant sap.
How To Get Rid Of Whiteflies
You are probably wondering how to get rid of whiteflies. There are ways to get rid of these pests, even if they live in your greenhouse. It can be difficult, but it’s possible. There are several options for white fly treatments, so let’s find the one that best suits your needs!
Organic Whitefly Control
This will remove any white flies that are currently feeding on the plant and also will wash off any eggs that are waiting to hatch Before trying more serious white fly treatments, you should begin with something very simple: blast your plants with water. This will remove any white flies that are currently feeding on the plant and also will wash off any eggs that are waiting to hatch. A good way to remove whitefly nymphs is to spray them with a hose. If they don’t move during the “creeping” phase, they will slowly die from hunger. This also works surprisingly well for aphid infestations.
Use a handheld vacuum to suck white flies up! You have to be careful while doing this, but using a small handheld vacuum is an easy way to get rid of the larvae, eggs, and bugs. Use caution to avoid letting it suck the leaves off your plants.
A garlic spray is a good home remedy for whiteflies on plants. Garlic can have a very strong smell, so it’s not a good idea to use it inside your house! Even in a greenhouse, the scent builds up. I recommend this only for outdoor use.
An insecticide like Safer Soap can be used to control a heavy infestation. Insecticidal soaps suffocate the eggs and larvae by coating them and making it difficult for them to breathe. It’ll also kill off adult whiteflies.
Horticultural oils can also be used to get rid of this type of pest. I would suggest using neem oil, or a similar product like Bonide All-Seasons Horticultural and Dormant Spray Oil. This will kill all life stages of the pest, whether it is an egg, larva, pupa, or adult.
A pyrethrin-based spray may be a good option if none of the above work. I prefer to use Safer Brand Yard & Garden Spray or Take-Down Garden Spray, which both contain pyrethrin plus an oily or fatty agent. The oils and fats from the Pyrethrin plant coats eggs and nymphs, suffocating them. The poison from the plant affects all life stages. These are both easy on the plants, too!
Environmental Whitefly Control
Whiteflies can be controlled by using traps. My preferred choice is yellow sticky traps. White flies are attracted to the yellow color and mistake it for a flower. They can’t escape to go and lay eggs.
The natural predators of this white bug include ladybugs, lacewings, and the whitefly parasite (which is a form of beneficial parasitic wasp). If you want to be able to quickly deal with infestations, you should make sure that there are lots of beneficial insects in your yard and garden. Hummingbirds and dragonflies are also natural predators!
New plans that are infested should be put in quarantine for a few weeks. You should keep new plants separate from the others in your garden or greenhouse, and observe them for a while, before adding them to the rest of the plants. If you have pests that you cannot see, you will be able to deal with them quickly. If you don’t want to introduce the whitefly to your other plants or create a huge problem of an infested greenhouse, don’t do it.
If you don’t want whiteflies to lay eggs on your plants, you can use neem oil. The oil will also coat the eggs and larvae, suffocating them. Make sure to cover both the top and bottom of the leaves, as well as their stems, for complete coverage.
Try mulching with a reflective mulch fabric. Reflective fabrics such as aluminum foil confuse whiteflies and prevent them from landing on and feeding off of host plants.
To see if you have a problem with giant whiteflies, put yellow index cards coated with petroleum jelly around your plants. Set them around your plants. Although they do not work as well as sticky traps, these can still catch white flies and let you know they are there.
Use Tanglefoot Tangle-Trap to protect citrus trees and other plants from whitefly infestations. The sticky gel won’t catch many white bugs, but it will prevent ants from getting into the tree.
Farmers sometimes have ants around because the ants will protect the crops from other insects. Ants can farm aphids and whiteflies for the honeydew secretion that they produce, which can be helpful for farmers because the ants will protect the crops from other insects. They protect their honeydew providers from natural enemies. If you kill the ants in your plants, the whiteflies will have a harder time spreading.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do Whiteflies Bite People?
A: Whiteflies are not harmful to people, in contrast to the black flies (sometimes called horseflies) that bite. They don’t find humans or our pets or livestock attractive. Damage from whitefly populations is found on plants only!
Q: How can I deal with Whitefly Honeydew on my Plants?
A: Great question! The white fly releases a sticky secretion called honeydew. This honeydew, if left in place, can develop black mold that can prevent plant growth. A good spray of water should wash it away.
If you see black mold, you may need to clean it by wiping it with a damp towel. After taking most of the mold off, drench the plant in neem oil to stop more mold from growing.