How to Prevent, Identify & Kill Whiteflies On Plants
Observe your plants closely to catch any signs of Whiteflies infestation. These tiny white bugs can be very detrimental to your garden because they feed on your indoor and outdoor plants. However, fret not! Although prevention is ideal, there are a few ways you can take care of these Whiteflies even after they have already attacked your plant. Before we get into the prevention and damage control, let us first understand what Whiteflies are:
What are Whiteflies, and why should you be concerned?
Whiteflies are soft-bodied insects that are very easy to miss due to their small size. These little winged bugs are most closely related to aphids and mealybugs. Most people are under the impression that since they have the word "flies" in their name, they are a fly, which, as discussed, is not the case. You can find these bugs almost anywhere in the country. Before you see an individual fly on its own, you are more likely to see a big group of them. They prefer the leaves' undersides and are more active during the daytime making them easier to spot than nocturnal pests. Because these flies can overwinter in the country's warmer regions, just a few of these insects can quickly turn into a disaster.
Whiteflies will infest any plant as long as they can get the sap from it. However, they do seem to show a preference for the warm-weather vegetable plants and ornamentals. Some of their favorites include tomatoes, eggplants, cabbage, and sweet potatoes. So, ensure you are especially alert if you grow these vegetables. Not only are these plants capable of doing extensive damage on their own, but they also attract other insects such as ants making matters worse. Now that we know what Whiteflies are, let us get into how you can spot any signs of a possible Whiteflies infestation:
How to tell if your plant is infested with Whiteflies?
Due to their small size, Whiteflies can be difficult to spot. You can actively search for signs of a possible infestation by looking for any of the following:
1. The Whiteflies: These little insects will appear as small grains of rice under the leaf.
2. Whiteflies' eggs: Watch out for any signs of small white eggs, typically in a circular pattern.
3. Honeydew: Whiteflies will often leave behind a sticky residue known as honeydew.
Honeydew would not have been a big problem for your plants if it did not attract other pests. Unfortunately, this sugary residue is an all-time favorite of insects such as ants. This situation makes the whole ordeal even worse. Other than looking for the pest itself, you can guess an infestation is underway if your plant's leaves look wilted, yellow, or pale.
Preventing a Whiteflies Infestation
The good news is that you can easily prevent Whiteflies from invading your garden by taking the necessary precautions. You can do this by any of the following methods:
We can not stress the importance of mulching enough. Not only does mulch retain moisture, suppress weeds, and cool-down the soil, but aluminum reflective mulch can also protect your plant from a Whiteflies infestation. Mulch does this by attracting helpful insects that are predators of these Whiteflies.
Crop rotation goes a long way
Crop rotation could be what saves your plants from destruction at the hands of Whiteflies. Since these bugs can overwinter, switching your plants' positions every growing season can prevent Whiteflies from coming back next year.
Add Beneficial bugs by yourself
Instead of using mulch to attract these little guys, you can add them on your own. Beneficial bugs are an environmentally friendly, chemical-free method of preventing a Whiteflies infestation.
These bugs include:
â€¢ Green Lacewings
â€¢ Delphastus catalinae
You can find these natural predators online. However, sometimes these insects are just not enough to completely solve the problem. In that case, you will need to resort to other methods:
Getting rid of Whiteflies on your Plant
If it is already too late for using prevention techniques, do not fret! You can still save your beloved plants by using other methods such as the use of safe chemicals. Let us start with the easier methods first; towards the end, we will discuss how you can tackle more serious infestations:
Spray the Whiteflies with water
This method might seem very basic, but it is also the easiest and most cost-effective way to eliminate bugs. During the daytime, use a hose or a sprayer on your plants every morning to gently spray away any eggs or clusters you find. Remember not to use a very strong water stream, as you can risk damaging your plant. Although tempting, do not use hot water on your plants! You can damage your plant, so it is best to use cold water because it is safer for your plants and may shock the Whiteflies, causing them to fall off. Do this first thing in the morning as these bugs are more active throughout the day, and the afternoon sun can let your plant dry off, preventing mold and wilting.
DIY pesticide spray
If you are on a budget or do not want to spend money on a pesticide; the good news is that you can make a DIY mixture from things lying around the house. All you need is:
â€¢ Dish soap
Use one squirt of dish soap for one gallon of water, and you are good to go. Like water, spray your DIY dish soap in the morning so that your plant has adequate time to dry-off.
Yellow Sticky Traps
Yellow sticky traps might not work as well for long term removal of these pests, but can be ideal for a few Whiteflies here and there. These sticky traps trap Whiteflies and can give you an indication of how severe the infestation is getting. Keep these traps handy so that you can nip the whole thing in the bud before things get out of your control
Vacuum your plants
This one might sound a little ridiculous but trust us it works well. Bring a handheld, battery charged vacuum outside and suck these pests up. Make sure you empty the vacuum and properly dispose of the Whiteflies before taking the vacuum inside again.
If you believe you cannot control the attack by any of these methods above, it would be best to use neem oil. This natural insecticide is safe to use on all plants and can effectively destroy pests such as Whiteflies by inhibiting their ability to feed. If you are still hesitant to use this oil on your plant, try one of our OMRI listed neem oil products. Organic Material Review Institute makes sure that all companies using the word "organic" are not making false claims.
If all else fails, you might have to resort to using Pesticides to control the Whiteflies infestation in your plants. Make sure you are careful in choosing the right Pesticide for your plant. Our top recommendations are:
â€¢ Safer Brand 3 in 1 Garden Spray Concentrate
â€¢ Fox Farm "Don't Bug Me" Pyrethrin Spray
â€¢ Flying Skulls Nuke Em Concentrate
Patience and Vigilance: The Key to Controlling Whiteflies
Controlling Whiteflies infestation can be very frustrating, especially if you are a beginner. However, rest assured that there is almost always something that can be done to control the damage caused. We hope this guide helped you understand how to spot, prevent, and control Whiteflies infestation in your plants. To learn more about common grow room pests and diseases, check out our complete guide. GroIndoor.com has everything you might need to control and prevent Whiteflies infestation. Shop now or for more guidance, call us. Happy Planting!