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.
The Whitefly Life Cycle
Whiteflies are active in the summer season. They reproduce usually in the warm months.
Whiteflies lay eggs underneath of leaves. Newly hatched larvae are very small and tough to spot, but they’re just as hungry as adult whiteflies.
Whiteflies can damage a plant even in their larval phase because of the sheer amount of active pests. One female can lay up to 400 eggs.
What do whiteflies eat?
Both adults and nymphs feed on plant juice. But, different species of whiteflies feed on different kinds of plants. For example, the cabbage whitefly (Aleyrodesproletella) nourishes on brassica species.
There are whiteflies that feed on a wide range of various agricultural crops, like citrus, most fruits and vegetables, and some show plants. Whiteflies are a vector for almost a hundred different plant infections and can spread those diseases during feeding.
They also leave honeydew, an adhesive substance that can formulate black mold or other fungal issues.
How to get rid of whiteflies naturally?
1. Neem Oil
- This is one of the best homemade natural sprays to remove whiteflies in your gardens.
- Neem oil is much safer than toxic chemicals to effectively get rid of this pest.
- Just mix it in a sprayer as instructed on the bottle and spray both the tops and bottoms of leaves.
- Make sure to spray again, 72 hours later to kill whiteflies effectively.
- It’s better to adjust your sprayer nozzle so that it sprays rather than shooting a stream.
- Also, as with any pesticide, to prevent butterflies, bees, and other pollinators, use it in the early morning or late evening hours when these pests are not active.
- Drying the neem oil will not damage these insects.
If you catch them before serious infestation, you can just use a vacuum cleaner to suck the whiteflies off your plants. Handheld vacuums are most suitable.
3. Beneficial Insects
- Many pests and birds are natural predators of the whitefly.
- These beneficial insects usually exist in your garden.
- Some of the predators of whiteflies are ladybugs, green lacewings, Encarsia Formosa wasps, predatory mites, and birds including kinglets, phoebes, swallows, and hummingbirds.
- So, leave those feeders up to lure these feathered friends and warriors to your lawn!
4. Rue or Eucalyptus
- One can make a powerful tea from the leaves of these plants that can be used effectively to get rid of whiteflies when sprayed on the top and bottoms of leaves.
- Spray again after 72 hours until there are no whiteflies.
5. Horticultural Oil
- This product can be used both indoors and outdoors as a spray to choke whiteflies.
6. Alcohol Spray
- Mix 4 ounces of 70% isopropyl alcohol to 12 ounces of water and spray on the leaves.
- Some plants are sensitive to alcohol and leaves can be burned.
- Test sensitivity by sprinkling on a leaf or two of a plant and wait for a day or so to notice if there is tolerance.
- Plants with hairy leaves incline to be sensitive to alcohol.
Various Methods to Control Whiteflies
1. Chemical Insecticides
- The chemical insecticides should be the last option if there’s a large infestation.
- Malathion or Pyrethrins are useful for killing whiteflies.
- Follow mixing instructions on the product tag and then spray on both the top and the bottom of leaves, where whiteflies hang out.
- You’ll require following the treatment again every 72 hours (3 days) until there are no whiteflies.
- When using these products, try to avoid beneficial insects by spraying in the morning or evening when beneficial pests are not active.
- Though not completely effective in controlling whiteflies, yellow sticky traps can be helpful indoors or outdoors as a monitor to let you inform if and when whiteflies have moved in.
- Hang the sticky traps at the tip of outdoor plants or near doors, pipes, or other openings where whiteflies can reach indoors.
3. Yellow light bulb
- The yellow light bulb can be used indoors or in the greenhouse to attract and then catch the whiteflies.
- Contrary to bug zappers, beneficial pests will not be killed by the yellow light bulbs.
How to prevent whiteflies?
Prevention is always the first step in controlling pests. The following methods can be used to prevent whiteflies.
- Whiteflies are soft-bodied insects and can be successfully avoided and controlled with insect soaps. Your garden center and local nursery might have insecticidal soap products.
- There are some plants that can repel the whitefly. African and French marigolds, Peruvian cherry, Nasturtiums, Calendula are some examples.
- Shoofly plants can trap whiteflies on the leaves of plants that are growing inside the house.
- The presence of whiteflies, especially on pepper and tomato plants, can be an indicator of magnesium and phosphorus deficiency.
- Epsom salts can be used to rectify magnesium deficiencies.
- You can rectify magnesium deficiencies by stirring 4 ounces of Epsom salts with 1 gallon of water and soaking the soil with the mixture.
- Or, during planting time, you can put a tablespoon or 2 of Epsom salts beneath the roots of each plant.
- Misting the leaves of plants with a seaweed spray makes them unpleasant for whiteflies to reproduce on.
- Your plants will also receive all the other various benefits from the seaweed spray.
- This spray can be used in the garden and the greenhouse.
Frequently asked Questions
1. How to get rid of whiteflies on plants?
- Use a spray of water to blow whiteflies and wash them off your plants and leaves.
- You should then rub a weak solution of soft soap onto the leaves in the late afternoon.
- Repeat this procedure every week to control and get rid of whiteflies.
- Alternately, you can use sticky tape, which will help to get rid of the current herd of whiteflies on your plants and stop them from laying more eggs.
2. Do ladybugs eat whiteflies?
The most common pests that ladybugs eat are aphids, which are severe pests of plants. That’s why ladybugs can be the gardener’s best buddy. They will control the pests in the lawn and help gardeners.
Even larval ladybugs eat aphids. They also eat different insects that have soft bodies, like whiteflies, mites, and scale insects – all of which are pests and harmful for the plants.
3. How to control whiteflies in the garden?
- You can try spraying the affected plant with a little pressurized stream of water.
- This will blow the insects off the plant and will reduce, but not eliminate them.
- You can also try controlling whiteflies in the lawn by using reflective surfaces, like discarded CDs, around the plants. This can have a repelling impact on the whiteflies and may keep them off the plant.
4. Does malathion kill whiteflies?
- Malathion or Pyrethrins are helpful for killing whiteflies.
- Follow mixing instructions on the product label and then spray both on the top and the bottom of leaves, where whiteflies live.
- You’ll have to use it every 3 days until there are no whiteflies.
5. Does praying mantis eat whiteflies?
Praying mantises will eat whitefly, aphids, and others. These pests feed on mites, aphids, and other tiny insects and insect eggs. Praying mantis egg cases can also be bought, but only during spring. Spot them in the lawn, where the mantises will hatch during summertime.
6. What plants do whiteflies like?
Whiteflies manage to suck on ornamentals and warm-weather vegetable plants, including eggplant, tomatoes, okra, and peppers. They also love sweet potatoes and plants from the cabbage family.
So from all the above information, you can now use effective methods and precautionary steps to get rid of whiteflies. They are not a permanent infestation but they can be removed. So have patience and try buying the above products or following homemade methods to get rid of whiteflies.