11 Facts about Whiteflies [What do they eat, where do they live, Lifecycle and More]

What are Whiteflies?

Whiteflies are winged insects that usually white in color. They look very similar to the aphids. They can easily hide between the plants because of their small size. There are some unique whitefly species, including the silver leaf whitefly. Different species vary in color, shape, and size.

Whiteflies feed on plants by sucking out the juice from leaves. In heavily infested plants, this process restricts photosynthesis.

By feeding off of plant leaves, whiteflies can also introduce infections to one’s garden. They can spread fungal diseases and viral infections that can cause serious damage to the garden plants.

11 Facts about Whiteflies

1. What do Whiteflies eat?

Whiteflies are sap-sucking insects, which means that they prick their straw-like mouthpart into the xylem of a plant and drink the sap from the plant.

Plant sap is primarily made up of water and several nutrients that allow the plant to survive. Whiteflies drink this sap to survive, but it kills the plant in the process. 

2. What plants do Whiteflies like?

There are several different types of whiteflies, and they prefer different types of plants based on the species. Whiteflies can like citrus plants, flowering plants such as Allamanda,

Begonia, Chrysanthemum, garden roses, Petunia, Salvia, Primula, etc. They also like many greenhouse crops such as sweet potatoes, tomatoes, cucumber, etc.

Whiteflies can also be present on other common crops such as squash, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, melons, cotton, carrots, etc. In general, Whiteflies can be found on over 500 different species of plants. 

3. Where do Whiteflies live?

Whiteflies usually live under the leaves of a plant. They prefer new growth, as the new leaves are softer and easier to pierce with their straw-like mouthparts.

Whiteflies are found on the top and the bottom of new leaves, and they can also live on the stems near the new leaves.

Since they suck sap from the plants, they usually avoid the woody parts of a plant. 

4. How long is the life cycle of Whiteflies?

The total time for the whitefly’s life cycle takes around 6 to 8 weeks. The life cycle of a Whitefly has 4 total stages.

The first stage is as an egg. When a female whitefly lays an egg, it takes about 6 to 10 days for it to hatch.

Then the egg is hatched and a nymph emerges, which has no wings but crawls around on the leaf. This is why this stage is called “crawlers”.

The crawlers walk around on the leaf and settle in one place, and they start to feed. After 3 to 4 days, the next stage is seen, when the crawler turns into a flat nymph, this time they don’t crawl around anymore.

They eventually grow hairs on their skin, which means that the nymph is getting bigger.

After 3 to 4 days of remaining in this nymph 3 phase, they start forming a pupa around their body, and they stay immobile until they become an adult.

After 6 to 7 days, the adult finally emerges from the pupa. Full-grown whiteflies can live for 3 to 4 weeks. 

5. What eats Whiteflies?

One of the most common insects that eat whiteflies is ladybugs. Some birds can also prey on Whiteflies.

They are also eaten by lacewing larvae, lady beetles, big-eyed bugs, spiders, Amblyseius swirskii, and several types of wasps such as Encarsia Formosa and Eretmocerus eremicus.

6. What attracts Whiteflies?

Whiteflies are attracted by the color yellow, which is why they are commonly found on flowering trees. They are also attracted by sweet smells, such as citrus, and flowers.

Whiteflies use their sense of smell to determine their prey, thus they are attracted to the smell of all the common plants that they usually attack, such as tomatoes, cabbages, etc. 

7. How far do Whiteflies fly?

Whiteflies do not fly too far. They can fly from one plant to the next one, but they cannot fly from one side of the garden to the other.

At most they can fly a meter or so at a time. Although they have wings, their range of flight is usually very limited.

8. How long do Whiteflies live?

Adult Whiteflies live for about 3 to 4 weeks. Some species of whiteflies can live up to 40 days.

However, if we see the whole life cycle of a Whitefly, then they can live anywhere between 6 to 7 weeks. 

9. How many different kinds of Whiteflies are there?

Globally there are over 1500 kinds of whiteflies. Most of these species of whiteflies do not exceed in population and thus do not cause any significant damage to crops.

Some of the most commonly seen species of whiteflies are silverleaf whitefly, citrus whitefly, Banded winged whitefly, and greenhouse whitefly.

They can be easily identified and differentiated from each other. Greenhouse Whiteflies are about 1/8th of an inch, and they have a waxy substance on their body.

Silverleaf whitefly, on the other hand, is a bit smaller and has a yellowish hue.

Banded Winged whiteflies are a kind of whitefly that has distinct zig zag patterns on its wings. These are also the most destructive species of whiteflies. 

 10. At what temperature do whiteflies disappear?

Whiteflies do not like cold temperatures, that is why they are usually seen in greenhouses.

During winter months, Whiteflies are generally not found outside, however, they don’t die off completely, they simply lay fewer eggs during this time.

However, if the temperature is below the freezing point, then they will freeze to death. This is why they are not commonly found in very cold countries.

They thrive at a temperature between 20 to 30 C, that is why whiteflies are more commonly found in temperate areas.

That being said, they also do not survive in very high temperatures. They will easily die off if the temperature goes above 35 C. 

11. What smell do fruit Whiteflies dislike?

Whiteflies generally dislike any strong smell such as garlic, peppermint, etc. You can repel whiteflies by simply spraying them with a mixture of essential oils.

Whiteflies are also repelled by the smell of marigold, so many gardeners plant marigold plants in their gardens to stop the whiteflies. 

Final Comments:

Whiteflies are so small yet so destructive. They can truly cause massive damage to crops and gardens. To understand how to control these insects better, we must learn more about them. These insects are quite fascinating to learn about and so we hope that you liked these interesting facts about Whiteflies.