Whiteflies

White Flies

Scott Bauer, USDA Agricultural Research Service and Jeffrey W. Lotz, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Bugwood.org

Description

Whiteflies are tiny (1/16 inch), white, four-winged, fly-like insects that usually congregate on undersides of leaves. They often swarm in clouds when disturbed.

Damage

Whitefly adults and larvae suck juices from plants, leading to wilting and stunted growth. Severe Whitefly infestations cause leaf yellowing and leaf drop. Whiteflies also excrete honeydew, a sweet, sticky substance that attracts Wasps, Ants and Bees and can serve as a medium on which Sooty Mold can grow. 

The larvae are the size of a pinhead and can actually cause more feeding damage to the plant than adults. They are most abundant during the spring and summer. Whiteflies can only overwinter in mild winter climates but can also be pests in greenhouses. Some Whiteflies can transmit diseases from one plant to another.

Location

Whiteflies are found throughout the United States.
 

Similar or Related Pests

Aphids
Cultural Solutions
  • Sticky yellow traps (available in nurseries and garden centers) provide early detection and can even reduce numbers.
  • Encouraging or releasing beneficial insects such as Whitefly Predators (Delphastus pusillus) may also help.
  • Reflective mulches can repel Whiteflies in vegetable gardens.
  • Floating row covers can be used to protect vegetables and crops