What do whiteflies look like?
Whiteflies are tiny, soft bodied, insects and often mistaken for miniature moths. The adult whitefly may range in size from 1/16 - 3/16 of an inch depending on the species. Whiteflies get their name from the white, waxy substance produced by special glands on their abdomen. The adults use this wax to coat their bodies and wings giving them a white appearance - hence the name "whiteflies."
Whitefly eggs are commonly laid on the underside of leaves and may be laid randomly or in circles, arcs, or spirals. Some species of whiteflies deposit extensive amounts of wax around their eggs. Whiteflies will pass through four stages from egg to adult. The fourth stage, or pupae stage, is the only stage from which an accurate determination of species can be made.
What Does Whitefly Damage Look Like?
Whiteflies use their piercing sucking mouthparts to drink plant sap from plant leaves, causing them to yellow and curl. This feeding action over time can also reduce plant size, leaf number, and overall plant health. Whiteflies also produce "honeydew". Honeydew deposits on leaves produce a shiny, sticky sheen, and provide an ideal environment for sooty mold growth. Sooty mold can reduce a plants ability to absorb sunlight and it is very unsightly.
- To prevent Whitefly infestation: Whitefly infestations can expand very rapidly, so preventative treatments are a great way to go. You can do preventative treatments in winter or cold months of the year with a garden oil to smother and eliminate overwintering whiteflies and their eggs.
- For light infestations in a concentrated area, you can just pluck off the infested leaves. This will eliminate most of the infestation. You can also follow this up with an insecticidal soap application to catch any stragglers.
- For heavy or stubborn whitefly infestations use Talstar P in a 1 gallon or 2 gallon pump sprayer. Mix with water as directed on the package label and spray on infested areas and underside of leaves. It is not necessary to spray your entire yard or garden. Some other products you can use for effective elimination of white flies are Merit, Dragnet, and Tempo. It is very important when using any insecticide to read and fully understand the label instructions before using.
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