How to Get Rid of Whiteflies on Plants

Whitefly is tiny insects that have a triangular-shaped yellow, pale, or white body. Its size and color mainly depend on its variety; there are 1550 species of whiteflies present.

They have a soft body that relates to aphids and mealybugs, typically feeds on the underside of leaves. whitefly is a pest that basically sucks a host plant’s juice and stunts its growth.

Here, you will learn how to get rid of whiteflies by using home remedies or chemicals. After reading this post you will get the right path on how to deal with this pest.

So let’s begin,

how to get rid of whiteflies

Whiteflies

The insect belongs to the Aleyrodidate family, its scientific name is Trialeurodes Vaporariorum. Whitefly is a pest that feeds on the leaves of houseplants, trees, and fruits.

Adult whiteflies not only feed leaves but also lay more than 400 eggs at a time that hatch within one to two weeks. When whiteflies lay eggs its color is pale but gradually it becomes brown before hatching.

When these eggs hatch, the organism is called larvae, remains in the same place and other mature whiteflies feed them until they become mature.

Due to this life cycle, the whiteflies manage to multiply in a very short time. So it’s vital to take the necessary steps before they destroy your beloved plants completely.

How to identify whiteflies

Many pests feed the leaves and flowers of the plant and stunt its growth. So, Before knowing their treatment, first, make sure that your plant is attacked by whiteflies.

You can easily identify by shaking the plant’s stem. If whiteflies are present then they will fly on leaves. Or look at the underside of the leaves they make their colonies there to hide from sunlight. 

Where do whiteflies come from

Whitefly

Whiteflies are indoor and outdoor pests that mostly thrive in houseplants, especially on plants that have soft foliage. They feed on leaves, stems but do not live in the soil. This pest is not harmful to humans and pets.

Whiteflies get active more often in mid to late summer, they prefer humid and warm conditions to thrive. They are great at hiding So there is a risk of bringing them home from an infested plant from nurseries.

Although they are not active in cold climates, they can overwinter on their house plant and will begin reproducing next spring.

What damage is caused by whiteflies

Whiteflies and their larvae suck the plant’s juice from the underside of the leaves and gradually make the plant weak.

When they feed, they produce a sticky substance known as honeydew, this fluid is sweet in taste and attracts other insects like ants, molds, and pests.

Large plants like trees will be able to survive against them much longer but small plants like indoor houseplants or garden plants get infested quickly.

However, it’s relatively easy to treat small plants than larger ones. Either way, the continuous growth of this pest on any plant is not good and should be eradicated ASAP. Fortunately, whiteflies are relatively easy to identify and cure than other pests.

How to Get Rid of Whiteflies Naturally

Vacuum the flies

  • One of the easiest ways to deal with whiteflies is to suck through a vacuum clear. Take a vacuum cleaner; walk to infested plant and suck underside leaves. This will suck all the whiteflies from the plant.
  • This method is effective in any stage of the development cycle- from larvae to mature whiteflies. Once you go through all the leaves and vacuum cleaner full of whiteflies.
  • Seal the vacuum bag inside an airtight bag and put it in the freezer for 24 hours till all flies get killed. After that empty the bag into the trash.  
  • This is a quick and easy way, but this method works only on small plants or houseplants mostly. Dealing with large plants with lots of leaves is not practically possible.

Pruning

  • Snif off all infected leaves from the plant. Take a gardening shear and cut all infested leaves and branches, trim as much as you can without killing the plant.
  • Look underside of the leaves for eggs and larvae, extremely infested leaves will be covered with sticky fluid known as honeydew that produces while feeding larvae.
  • Pale or wilted leaves should also be cut down, you can also pluck leaves by hand.
  • Make sure to dispose of infested leaves properly, pack them in an airtight bag, and throw them into the trash or burn them. If you do not dispose of properly whiteflies may spread again. 

Natural Predators

lady bug

  • Many insect species love to predates pests like whiteflies, spider mites, and aphids. These beneficial insects do not harm plants, people, and pets.
  • Bringing the right predator into the ecosystem will help to fight against whiteflies. You can order these beneficial insects online and gently spread them into the plant.
  • Some beneficial insects are Big-eyed bugs, Damsel bugs, Green lacewing, Lady beetles, Ladybugs, Minute pirate bugs. These insects can feed hundreds of pests per day. 
  • Caution: Before introducing any bug to your garden ecosystem first research the insect. If you spread lots of bugs in the plant sooner you’ll struggle with far too many bugs.

Use traps

  • You can catch whiteflies in traps, buy a sticky yellow pad from a gardening store or craft it at home.
  • Or craft a trap, take a sturdy yellow surface, and coat it with sticky fluid that dries slowly like Glue, Motor oil, Honey, or Petroleum jelly.
  • Whiteflies get attracted towards yellow color but when they flit on it they will trap and cannot get free.
  • If you’re making a trap at home you might have to coat it with glue frequently.
  • Glue and honey dry off within minutes, motor oil or petroleum jelly make be less effective but last for a longer period.

Remember to remove traps when using a spray or washing or when introducing any beneficial insects.

Place the trap under or near the leaves, whiteflies live underside of the leaves you will be more likely to catch whiteflies near their habitat.

Takedown all traps once most of the whiteflies population is dead or when only a few whiteflies get caught each day.

These traps can also kill whiteflies predators so they are not suitable for less infested plants or unless these natural predators fail against whiteflies. If the whiteflies population comes back, put the traps once again.

Repellent plants

Plants like French and Mexican marigolds and Nasturtiums are whiteflies repellent.  They are companion plants that help to deter pests.

But, this is a prevention method and not effective for infested plants. There are specific varieties that are repellent to whiteflies- Pot marigold and calendulas do not repel whiteflies.

Before planting makes sure it will deter pests. If you’re not sure ask in the nursery for companion plants that repel whiteflies. 

Earthworm casting

It is found that when earthworm casting is mixed with infested plant’s base soil whiteflies tend to leave the plant within one or two weeks. Also, earthworm casting is rich in fertilizer and can gently increase the growth of the plant. You buy earthworm casting from a local garden store.

Cover with reflect material 

Covering susceptible plant’s base soil with aluminum foil or reflective plastic sheets will make it harder for adult whiteflies to lay eggs on host plants. This is a prevention method and does not work on infested plants.

This step requires special watering practice. You have to remove the cover each time before watering or create a drip irrigation system. Do not use this in hot weather this can overheat the plant causing leaf burn.

How to get rid of whiteflies chemically

Plumeria: Whiteflies

Prepare repellent solution

The whitefly has 4-stage of development- Egg to larvae to pupa to adult. A repellent solution mostly kills only certain stages of the life cycle.

Thus, if a solution kills adult whiteflies, then you have to repeatedly apply a repellent solution till all eggs get mature. You will need to apply a repellent solution before adults lay eggs.

Larvae and adult whiteflies cause most of the damage to the host plant. However, if existing eggs are left to mature they will also become mature and damage the plant.

For this best thing is to apply the repellent solution in an application timeframe – check the whitefly variety and its life cycle, spray repellent before they get mature.

Each variety has its own lifespan. Some common varieties include Bandedwing, Fig, Greenhouse, and Silverleaf whitefly.

Wash with soap solution

  • Mix one spoon of dish soap into 1 gallon of water.
  • Fill the solution in the spray and wash infested leaves and branches.
  • Pay special attention to the underside of the leaves as most whiteflies live there.
  • Remember, soap solutions only kill adult whiteflies, so you have to apply them every 3 to 4 days for several weeks to get rid of whiteflies.
  • know days to wipe leaves by observing the life cycle of the whitefly variety. (Before they get mature)
  • If you’re using a highly concentrated soap solution, try to apply it at the end of the day. So that foliage does not suffer from leaf burn.
  • Also after applying with soap solution, wash the leaves with water. Soap solution contains chemicals that can damage leaves if they stay for a longer time. Wash with water after one hour.

Insecticides

Insecticides are one of the quickest ways to kill off all pests. The whiteflies are, unfortunately, a bit resistant to chemical products. However, the chemical product often causes harm to the ecosystem and its organism, it affects plants, pets even your family members. Keep insecticides as a last option.   

Pesticides

Indeed whiteflies, eggs, and pupae are repellent from most of the common pesticides. If you use chemicals make sure to treat several days in rotation, this will stop whiteflies from adapting. 

How to Prevent Whiteflies

Whitefly sp. Aleyrodidae

  • Before bringing any new plant to home, first check its leaves whether it is infested or not, look in the nook and cranny for any pests sign. 
  • Isolating a new collection for two to three days before adding it with your garden plants is actually a good idea. This will make sure that the new plant is totally safe.
  • Occationally looking underside of leaves is a good practice, if you see any insect on the plant gental hose off it. 
  • Avoid feeding high-nitrogen fertilizer, it attracts pests that like to feed tasty leaves. Stay away from too rich nitrogen fertilizer, it also causes leaf drop when applied heavily.
  • Taking care of plants like pruning wilted leaves, providing good drainage soil, adequate water and light, maintaining distance between plants for good air circulation and others reduce chance of infestation of any pests and fungal diseases.

FAQ

When to throw an infested plant 

After trying all the possible methods, if whiteflies still infest the plant, it is better to pack the plant and throw it into the trash. Pack the plant in the airtight bag and throw it far away. An infested can transfer whiteflies to other companion plants

How much it takes time to get rid of whiteflies

To get fully free from whiteflies will take some weeks or even months. However, this depends on the treatment method and condition. If the climate conditions are ideal for whiteflies to thrive (warm and humid) it will take a long time. However, in the winter whiteflies are not seen if present then easily get rid of.

When to call Pest control?

Pest control is pros that check your plants and find optimal treatment to get rid of whiteflies or any other pests. Call pest control when pests become out of control, damaging your beloved plants and eventually the garden.

Hope you find this article helpful. if yes, share with your friends and family. Tell me which tip from this post you’re going to try first; Or do you have any other method to control whiteflies? Either way, tell me in the comment box right now. Thanks for reading. 😀

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