Whiteflies: How To Wipe Out These Tiny White Insects For Good

Ed Wike
Written by
Last update:

Whiteflies Overview

Whiteflies are small insects that are new to North America, but are commonly found in tropical climates. There are over 4000 species of whiteflies, some of which are considered pests.

These insects are known for transmitting a number of plant diseases, and they suck sap from their host.

Currently, they are known to infest more than 100 different varieties of plants, including strawberries, sweet potatoes, cabbage, cucumbers, celery, lettuce, apples, pears, citrus, vines, lilies, tomatoes, linden trees, azalea, hibiscus, and fig trees.

Whiteflies are active in the summer months, and are about 1/25 inch in length.

These pests may be distinguished from similar insects by their wings, which whiteflies won’t have. They also have a pale body and are covered with a waxy substance.

The larvae are usually yellowish, brown, or black in color.

You may see evidence of their presence in yellowish or wilted plants, which might also have an unpleasant odor.

You can protect your plants from whiteflies by using a few different techniques.

Life Cycle Of Whiteflies

It is important to familiarize yourself with the whitefly life cycle if you want to wipe out these pests. It is difficult to do so because of the different stages of development and how quickly they reproduce.

Eggs: The eggs of whiteflies are often laid on the upper surfaces of leaves. The egg is then covered in plant secretions containing a sugary substance. This helps it to stick to the plant until the larva hatches.

Larva: The young whitefly is known as a larvae and it is cream colored. They are so tiny that they are often mistaken for airborne dust. As the whitefly grows, it goes through several different molting stages before it started to become an adult. This entire process can take up to three weeks depending on the environment.

Pupae: The daylight hours are shortened in winter months and this prompts some whiteflies, known as planophilias, to enter diapause. During their dormancy, they develop a protective pupal case, in order to survive the cold winter months.

Adult: The adult has white wings and they are rather distinctive in appearance. Many whiteflies have a yellowish body and black antennae. When the whitefly is taking in sweet liquids from the leaf, it appears greasy or shiny.

Common Habitats For Whiteflies

Whiteflies are particularly attracted to and thrive in humid places. Stagnant water found in your soil is one of the most common habitats for whiteflies. Since they have an affinity for humidity, you can find them in houses that get a lot of moisture.

Dark and warm places are also common habitats for whiteflies. These tiny pests are often found in neglected corners and dark closets where houseplants are kept. Whiteflies' opportunistic nature and affinity for warmth make them natural pests of the horticulture industry. Warm botanical laboratories and greenhouses are the perfect home for whiteflies.

Whiteflies are also commonly found in polluted and polluted environments. Docks, reservoirs, canals and drainage systems are all excellent hiding places for these pests. If you are a frequent traveler, you should always inspect the places that you visit. You may bring tiny whiteflies with you back home and find infected plants and houseplants waiting for you.

What Do Whiteflies Eat?

Whiteflies can be a bother to gardeners over the warmer months. They are named for their all-white wings, and live predominantly off a diet of plant sap. They are small white bugs that appear to fly but actually only hop like fleas, and favor feeding from the undersides of leaves.

They excrete honeydew, which becomes home for sooty mold and can be a real mess to clean up.

Whiteflies can be found in most locales that are warm year-round, as they are not found below the thirtieth parallel north (unless they are brought in).

When it comes to controlling whiteflies in your garden, it is very important to manage them as early as possible.

Controlling Whiteflies in your garden can be time consuming and frustrating, but if you follow these steps then clearing your garden of them is not as difficult as it can first seem.

The best way to deal with whiteflies and to keep down their numbers is preventative care.

It is very important to make sure that you keep your garden clean and tidy. This will allow you to spot, and deal with, any outbreaks of whiteflies quickly.

Clearing away old plant debris and dead leaves allows for a place for whiteflies to hide. It also provides them with a great environment to lay eggs.

Keeping your garden clean and tidy will help to eliminate these places.

How To Get Rid Of Whiteflies

Whiteflies are such a common pest and one that most gardeners will never forget. The more that you are exposed to these tiny white insects, the harder it becomes to remove them. They are very annoying as they cluster on the undersides of leaves and damage the plant by sucking out the juices. They will embed their mouthparts into the plant's cells, thereby slowly killing off the tissue.

The longer that you let whiteflies stay on your garden and infest your plants, the more difficult it will be to treat them. Whiteflies have been known to cause plants to wither and die within a short matter of time.

Removing these whiteflies before they become a problem can help you to keep them at bay for a long time. This means treating your plants regularly and dealing with any new outbreaks early.

If you have never had whiteflies before, you will want to check any plants that you are transplanting. These whiteflies like to live in the soil and on the roots of the plant that you have dug up. You want to wash the dirt off of the roots to make sure that you get rid of the eggs and the pests.

Organic Whitefly Control

Whitefly is not just a gardening pest. It is a threat to the environment as a whole. It is also notoriously difficult to get rid of, which is another reason to take it seriously, and you should if you want to ensure the health of your garden.

The whitefly seeks out plants for the purpose of feeding off of their sap and damaging them in the process. This makes it a garden pest for plants that you want to keep or reseed. It breathes by extracting nutrients from the plant, but it also leaves a sticky residue of honeydew, which can attract other insects, such as ants and blackflies.

Whiteflies are as small as a grain of salt, but if you have a lot of them on your plant, you will notice that they cover the surface. Ultimately, the damage will kill the plant and keep it from producing viable seeds. Since many gardeners are trying to grow the amount of plants that they can, this is a real problem.

If you don’t manage to get rid of the whitefly before the plant dies, you’ll have to repot or discard the plant. This can be time-consuming and costly. If you want to ensure that you get rid of the whiteflies for good, now is the time to initiate the control process.

Environmental Whitefly Control

To avoid these pesky flies, your best bet is to control your environment. You can stop white flies from entering your home through cracks and crevices.

Any plant that gets lots of sunlight and is near a window is a sign that white flies are likely to congregate nearby. Be sure to follow good indoor gardening practices by controlling weeds with a deep mulch or preventing over-watering and ensuring drainage.

A tight-meshed screen and properly fitted vent covers on your windows will help prevent these flies from setting up camp.

Another method of white fly control is to promote natural predators such as wasps and spiders. These insects eat white flies. You can also plant certain plants to attract these insects.

In addition to controlling plants and the outdoors, you need to clean your indoor houseplants. This will help contain the white flies rather than allowing them to spread to other indoor plants or areas.

Preventing Whiteflies

To prevent the whiteflies from coming in, first start with your choice of plants. Whiteflies are attracted to certain plants, which means that you can reduce your chances of getting a whitefly infestation by choosing plants that are not popular with whiteflies. The following plants pose a serious risk of attracting whiteflies:

  • Begonias
  • Hibiscus
  • Marijuana
  • Petunias
  • Ferns
  • Crape myrtle

Whitefly traps can also help as a preventive measure. These traps are effective even when the specific plants that the whiteflies are attracted to are present in the garden. Using these traps is a good way to ensure that you are keeping the whiteflies out of the house.

Make sure that you have a vacuum at home. The vacuum is a great tool when it comes to controlling whiteflies. A handy advice that is worth remembering is to vacuum the plants. Vacuum the plants on a regular basis. The whiteflies can easily spread over plants and so by using the vacuum to keep the area free from whiteflies, you can help your plants free from these pesky insects.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are whiteflies and what do they look like?

A: Whiteflies are very tiny tiny insects that are barely visible to the human eye. Their bodies are generally clear wings with whiteish grayish hind wings and clear, long legs. They have strawlike mouths, but very slender bodies. Their eggs are clear and yellow in color.

Q: What does a whitefly plant look like?

A: Whiteflies are able to feed on many different kinds of plants, but most are found on vegetable plants. When looking at the plant, the damaged areas will have white specks and the leaves will often be curled and distorted from heavy feeding. If the infestation is severe, the leaves may drop prematurely. The leaves could be covered with a white, powdery substance that is a buildup of insect excreta and honeydew (the sweet liquid excreted by some sucking insects).

Q: Where do whiteflies live?

A: Whiteflies are found all over the world. They are most often found on tropical and subtropical plants.

Q: How do whiteflies reproduce?

A: Whiteflies reproduce very quickly. They give birth to live whiteflies, which look like miniature adults. One female can lay up to 600 eggs over its lifetime and the eggs hatch in just 5 days. The entire life cycle of a whitefly can be as short as 15 days.