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How To Get Rid Of Whiteflies?

how to get rid of whiteflies

Being a plant mommy comes with a lot of responsibilities; from watering, feeding, and grooming, there are many other things you have to do to make sure your plants are thriving. And, when you neglect your plants, it can result in pests, diseases, and plant infections.

On the other hand, over caring, like excessive watering and too much sunlight, can also damage plants. One of the most common plant problems is whiteflies. In this article, you’ll learn how to get rid of whiteflies?

Today, we will tell you all you need to know about how to get rid of whiteflies and protect your houseplants against these viscous little creatures! 

What Are Whiteflies?

As the name suggests, you might think that these are some kinds of white-colored fly, but no, they are not flies at all. They are like mealybugs, aphids, and scales and have yellow-colored bodies with white wings. 

Whiteflies feed on both houseplants and outdoor plants, and they propagate rapidly during the warm summer season. They suck sap from plants, leaving the plant depleted and weak. They are usually found on the underside of the leaves. Getting rid of them requires vigilance and persistence, but it’s doable. Best of all, you won’t need harsh pesticides.

Types Of Whiteflies

Whiteflies belong to the family Aleyrodidae, the only family in the superfamily Aleyrodoidea. There are more than 1550 known species. Here are 4 common types of whiteflies: 

Aleurocanthus Woglumi (Blackfly)

It is typically known as a citrus blackfly as it feeds upon only citrus crops. It has a state-blue color. 

Bemisia Tabaci (Silverleaf Whitefly)

It is commonly known as Silverleaf whitefly or sweet potato whitefly. It is one of the most threatening pests in tomatoes. It is a tiny insect that feeds upon plants and transmits plant diseases. 

Aleyrodes Proletella (Cabbage Whitefly)

It is also known as cabbage whitefly as it feeds upon brassica crops like cabbage and mustard plants. They have white wings and red eyes. 

Trialeurodes Vaporariorum (Greenhouse Whitefly)

It is commonly known as the greenhouse whitefly or glasshouse whitefly. They are found in glasshouses, polytunnels, and other protected horticulture environments. They have four wings of white color and have yellow bodies. 

How To Identify Whiteflies? 

It is necessary to observe your plants regularly to ensure that they are healthy and free of insect activity. Examine both your indoor and outdoor plants. Look very closely at the undersides of the leaves for white specks or thin white powdery insects. 

Because of their small size and almost transparent appearance, most stages of development are overlooked. However, they can be easily seen with a naked eye.

You can see whiteflies when you move or water your plants. You will notice the appearance of snowfall-like insects flying under the leaves. They are about 1/6 inches long and resemble tiny moths. 

Symptoms of Whiteflies Infestation 

As whiteflies feed on fluids (sap) of the plant tissue, they are present on the undersides of the leaves. The most apparent symptom of whitefly is chlorotic spots, leaf yellowing, and shedding.

If whiteflies attack a plant, the plant weakens, and the leaves quickly turn yellow. Eventually, the leaves may become dry and might fall off. 

If the infestation is severe, it might cause loss of strength, wilting, and stunt plant growth. It causes the upper part of the leaves to become sticky and waxy.

Many plants are affected by this, but plants with soft leaves are the most susceptible to pests like whiteflies and aphids. 

What Causes Whiteflies? 

A bunch of reasons can cause whiteflies. For example:

Underwatering 

Plants going through water stress are more likely to get infected by whiteflies, and overuse of insecticides can do more harm than good and cause whitefly problems. 

Over Fertilization 

Other than those, excessive use of nitrogen fertilizer can also cause whitefly diseases as they increase the amount of nitrogen in plant tissues which attracts whiteflies. 

Negligence 

You are supposed to properly take care of plants or crops, give them a needed amount of water, fertilizer and keep a check on them.

Ignorance and carelessness when it comes to your plants can increase the chances of getting infected by whiteflies. 

Plants Susceptible To Whiteflies

Whiteflies can be found on various plants, including beautiful flowers and warm-weather food crops such as tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and okra. Some species are known to attack sweet potatoes, cabbage plants, and citrus trees.

Most typical houseplants, especially those with soft and smooth leaves, attract them. Whiteflies alone feed on more than five hundred species of host plants. Greenhouse ornamentals are also very susceptible to whitefly damage. 

Damage Caused By Whiteflies

Whiteflies can harm plants in two main ways i.e.:

Direct Harm 

The first is referred to as “direct” harm. Whiteflies can cause considerable damage to plants by draining their juices, causing their leaves to be yellow, wither, and drop eventually.

It is possible that if the quantity of whiteflies is high enough, the plant will die.

Indirect Harm 

The adults of the whitefly inflict the second type of injury, known as “indirect” harm. Through their mouthparts, they can spread viruses from infected to healthy plants or crops.

Whiteflies excrete a sweet substance called honeydew that causes a sticky coating on leaves. The honeydew later attaches to a fungus and makes the leaves black and dirty. 

How to get rid Of Whiteflies – Treatment

To control whiteflies, there are various treatment methods and traps that you can use. 

Wash Them Off: 

The easiest way to get rid of them is to blast them off with your watering hose or a spray bottle. This way, they will scatter, and it will also dislodge all nymphs and eggs. 

Yellow Sticky Traps: 

Yellow sticky traps are a very common method for monitoring whiteflies. It helps suppress the population increase of adult whiteflies.

It is an effective method for the control of whiteflies in the greenhouse. If you use them at the beginning of the season, it can help detect an invasion early.

Small Suction Vacuum:

Using a vacuum every other day can help remove whiteflies from your plants, don’t forget to be careful while using it.

This process can help you get rid of adults and nymphs as well. Don’t empty the vacuum in your home trash because that will just increase the growth. 

Insecticidal Sprays:

Spraying the leaves of your plants with an insecticidal spray can help. Follow the directions. Don’t just spray the top of the leaves as the whiteflies live underneath the leaves; spray there too! Spraying the plants in the evening can give a faster result.

Pyrethrin Spray:

A pyrethrin spray is an excellent way to kill whiteflies. While this is a highly safe substance, I will kill any insect it comes in contact with.

Therefore you should only apply it to plants where whiteflies are an issue. Spray it immediately on the insects, both the undersides and tops of the leaves.

Usually, two applications spaced three to four days apart are enough to control the condition. 

Neem Oil:

To kill eggs, larvae, and adults, You can spray organic neem oil on vegetables, fruit trees, and flowers. Spray all leaf surfaces, top and bottom both until the leaves get moist.

Mix 1 gallon of water with neem oil to make the spray. This is highly effective for any stage of whitefly. 

Pruning: 

Get rid of whiteflies by removing the infected part of your plants or crops. It would be best to cut the dead leaves all together. However, pruning is only recommended if the infestation goes out of control. 

Natural Repellent: 

Use a homemade mixture to manage and prevent whiteflies; you can make this with two parts of rubbing alcohol, five parts water, and one tablespoon liquid soap in a 32-ounce spray bottle. Just spray this mixture on the leaves of pest-prone plants. 

How to get rid of Whiteflies – Prevention

Now, the question rises, how to get rid of whiteflies even before they infect houseplants.

You can prevent whiteflies from escaping by examining a new house plant in a secured location.

All new plants introduced into your garden or home should be quarantined until they have been thoroughly inspected.

Keep natural predators around it and avoid too many chemical insecticides.

Moreover, setting up yellow index cards with petroleum jelly or yellow sticky traps can also help you monitor whiteflies. 

FAQs

How do you keep whiteflies away?

Row covers are a good way to keep Whiteflies away. FastStart® is a row cover that you can use to exclude Whitefly and other pests but allow air, light, and irrigation water to reach your plants. This lightweight polyethylene fabric protects young plants while they are germinating and growing into mature plants.

Can vinegar get rid of whiteflies?

Vinegar can help get rid of whiteflies because it is a safe and easy to use method. All you need to do is mix two parts water with one part vinegar and spray the mixture on infested plants. The vinegar will kill the whiteflies by dissolving their exoskeletons. If you have a large infestation, repeat the process every few days until all of the whiteflies are gone. You can also combine the vinegar with neem oil for added effectiveness.

Are whiteflies bad?

Whiteflies are very bad, as they are tiny little insects that tend to attack your plants and crops. They can cause a lot of damage to your plants, so it’s important to keep them away.

Conclusion

Whitefly infections can be a nightmare. They are tiny, but they cause significant damage, and are usually tricky to deal with. However, whiteflies cannot infect your plants or crops if you take care of them properly, give them enough water, and spray them. Examining them every day or using yellow sticky traps to keep a check on whiteflies should be done to keep them away from your plants! 

Written by Chris Buckland

Hello, I’m Chris. I’m a houseplant expert. I have been Cultivating and Growing Houseplants for 20 years. Plants are like my children. I love to write about Indoor plants and share my experience. That's why I started writing everything I know about houseplants.

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