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Past Articles Library | Organic Pest Control | Control Whitefly


(Trialeurodes vaporariorum)

Whitefly is a sap-sucking insect that is often found in dense populations on the undersides of leaves. When infested plants are disturbed, great clouds of the winged adults fly into the air.



Adults are powdery white and 1/25 inch (1 mm) long. Larvae are wingless, flattened, legless, translucent scales 1/30 inch (.08 mm) long on undersides of leaves. Eggs are small gray or yellow cones.



Whitefly nymphs overwinter on the leaves of host plants. In late spring adult females deposit 200-400 eggs in circular clusters on the undersides of upper leaves. The eggs hatch in 2 to 5 days into small, mobile scales. After a few days, these become immobile, but they continue to feed on the plant juices until they pupate. A complete life cycle takes 20 to 30 days at room temperature. Many generations per year - and year round indoors or in warm climates. Note: All of the immature stages are easily overlooked. They are usually pale, almost translucent, and blend with the color of the leaf to which they are attached.




Host plants include more than 250 ornamental and vegetable plants. Citrus, squash, poinsettia, potato, cucumber, grape, tomato, and hibiscus are commonly infested.




Both nymphs and adults cause serious damage to plants by sucking the juices from new growth causing stunted growth, leaf yellowing, and reduced yields. Plants become weak and susceptible to disease. Like aphids, whiteflies secrete honeydew, so leaves may be sticky or covered with a black sooty mold. They are also responsible for transmitting several plant viruses.




1. Ornamental plants in the home, greenhouse, or outdoor gardens often become infested with whiteflies through the introduction of infested plants. A slight infestation from one plant can quickly spread to other plants. Inspect all new plants thoroughly, and isolate them for a few days before placing them among established plants. During this isolation period, inspect the plants and treat those infested.

2. Attract parasitic wasps, lacewings, lady beetles, and pirate bugs (outdoors).


1. Trap adults on yellow sticky traps (see Yellow Sticky Traps - Pot Stickers information below).

2. Vacuum adults from leaves in the early morning when it is cool and they are slow-moving. When finished, put the vacuum bag (not the vaccum) with the insects inside a large plastic bag and freeze for 24 hours to kill the insects. Vacuuming adults is most helpful and effective when an infestation is just starting and when the adults have not laid many eggs.

3. Release parasitic wasp Encarsia formosa, (indoors).

4. Spray with insecticidal soap (See Plant Guardian Insecticidal Soap information below), summer oil, or garlic oil to control nymphs.

5. Wash off adults with a strong blast of water.

6. Inspect plants regularly, and remove older leaves that are heavily infested with whiteflies in the nonmobile nymphal and pupal stages.


Use Yellow Sticky Traps - Pot Stickers

Protect indoor and outdoor plants from small flying insects such as white flies, fungus gnats, leafminers, aphids, thrips, and sciarid flies. Insert traps directly into the soil of houseplants and container plants, indoors or out. You can also hang traps from larger plants or fruit trees with predrilled holes and included twist ties. Disposable traps are coated in UV-resistant glue that doesn�t run at high temperatures or become ineffective at low temperatures. Your fingers won�t stick to these traps, but flying annoying insects will! Traps are waterproof, disposable, and nontoxic. Package of 10 traps comes with 10 twist ties for hanging.

More Sticky Trap - Pot Stickers Information

Plant Guardian Insecticidal Soap

This is a great multipurpose insect killer! Controls whiteflies, aphids, earwigs, grasshoppers, lacebugs, mealybugs, mites, plant bugs, leafhoppers, psyllids, sawfly larvae, scale insects, tent caterpillars, thrips, woolly aphids and other listed pests. It is a contact killer for both insect and mite pests. It penetrates the body of pests disrupting membrane and cellular function and results in rapid death. It is effective against the adult, larval and nymph stages of pests. Pupal stages of some pests (e.g. whitefly) may also be affected. Easy to use! For use indoors and outdoors on vegetables, fruit and nut trees, citrus, berries, ornamentals, shrubs, flowers and trees in homes, gardens and greenhouses.

More Plant Guardian Insecticidal Soap Information

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