What Are Whiteflies
Are you starting to see white-winged insects flying around near your plants? They can be easy to ignore, but you may see your plant wilting, drooping, or yellowing. If you grow herbs and find that the leaves are becoming stickier, you need to look closer. You might have whiteflies.
These pests can be a real nuisance to deal with on your own, so we’re writing this article to help. By the end of this read, you’ll know how to identify, treat, and even prevent them.
What Is A Whitefly?
Whiteflies are tiny insects and are members of the true bug family. They have sucking mouthparts and aren’t flies. They’re related closely to leaf hoppers, but they are also distantly related to aphids.
They drink plant sap and lay eggs in groups of well over 400 individual eggs. These eggs can hatch in a week’s time and create more whiteflies before you know it. To make matters worse, the larvae are even more voracious than the adults. They can seriously damage or even kill many plant varieties in a short time.
How to Find Whiteflies
You know what whitefly is, but how do you find them? Most often, you’ll be able to see a few flying around near your plants. Sometimes, however, you might not see them. Instead, spend some time looking your plants over. Even if the tops of the leaves look healthy, check the undersides.
Whiteflies lay tiny white eggs the size of a pinhead under leaves and near stems. When the eggs hatch, the larvae fasten to the plant and feed until they become adults. As they wander the plant, the adults leave droppings that look like pepper. The larvae look like tiny grains of yellowish rice or grain.
You can also detect them by their honeydew. This sticky secretion can give mold and fungus a place to grow.
Where Do They Come From?
Whiteflies live everywhere outside. They thrive on houseplants and plants with smooth leaves. This means you may find them on trees or bushes. As the summer gets more humid, you’ll find more whiteflies. Often, they come from bringing an outdoor plant inside. If you live in northern Florida, even the cold won’t kill them – They can overwinter in the leaves they occupy.
How to Get Rid of Whiteflies
Patience and persistence are the keys to solving this issue. Spraying the underside of plants with neem oil, washing leaves with a 1:1 mixture of distilled white vinegar and water, and very mildly soapy water can kill whiteflies and their larvae.
You’re unlikely to get them all in one go. Treat your plants every other day to every few days depending on the plant. Perform daily inspections, and try vacuuming up the whiteflies you can find. Any reduction of numbers helps.
How to Prevent Whiteflies
The most significant way is to thoroughly check the plants you buy or bring inside. You can use a low nitrogen fertilizer to avoid attracting them, as they’re attracted to the smell of nitrogen. Pruning weak, sick, or old branches also help them establish themselves. Mint, cilantro, and onion can also work to repel these insects. If you need assistance with such pests, contact us.