Whiteflies

  • Symptoms

  • Trigger

  • Biological Control

  • Chemical Control

  • Preventive Measures

Whiteflies

Aleyrodidae

Insect


In a Nutshell

  • Yellow spots on leaves.
  • Deep black powdery mold develops.
  • Leaf deformation - curling or cupping shape.
  • Stunted growth.
  • Small white to yellowish insects.

Hosts:

Bean

Capsicum & Chili

Eggplant

Cherry

Cucumber

Pumpkin

Zucchini

Tomato

Cabbage

Lettuce

Potato

Black & Green Gram

Pigeonpea & Red Gram

Chickpea & Gram

Cotton

Soybean

Other

Onion

Sorghum

Maize

Strawberry

Banana

Citrus

Peanut

Manioc

Sugarcane

Melon

Lentil

Cauliflower

Ornamental

Symptoms

Whiteflies are common on a variety of crops grown in open fields and greenhouses. Both adults and nymphs suck the plant sap and and excrete honeydew onto leaves, stems and fruits. Chlorotic spots and sooty molds develop on the affected tissues. During heavy infections, these spots may coalesce and spread over the whole leaf, apart from the area around the veins. The leaves may later become deformed, curl or take a cupping shape. Some whiteflies transmit viruses such as tomato yellow leaf curl virus or cassava brown streak virus.

Trigger

Whiteflies measure about 0.8 - 1 mm and have the body and both pairs of wings covered with a white to yellowish powdery, waxy secretion. They are often found on the underside of the leaves, and, if disturbed, will emerge forming a cloud. They thrive in warm, dry conditions, which is why they are usually not a problem on outdoor plants. The eggs are laid on the underside of the leaves. The nymphs are yellow to white, flat, oval and pale green in color. Adult whiteflies cannot live without feeding on a host plant for more than a few days. This makes weed-management an important population control measure.

Biological Control

Biological solutions will vary depending on the specific species of whitefly involved and the crop. Natural insecticides based on sugar-apple oil (Annona squamosa), pyrethrins, insecticidial soaps, Neem seed kernel extract (NSKE 5%), Neem oil (5ml/L water) are recommended. The parasitoid wasps Encarsia formosa, Eretmocerus eremicus, the common green lacewing Chrysoperla carnea or beetles like Delphastus spp. are also commonly used. Other natural antagonists are predatory mites, nematodes, green lacewings, ladybirds, minute pirate bugs, big-eyed bugs and damsel bugs. Pathogenic fungi include Beauveria bassiana, Isaria fumosorosea, Verticillium lecanii and Paecilomyces fumosoroseus.

Chemical Control

Always consider an integrated approach with preventive measures together with biological treatments if available. Whiteflies quickly develops resistance to all pesticides, so a rotation of different products is recommendable. Apply products based on or combinations of: bifenthrin, buprofezin, fenoxycarb, deltamethrin, azadirachtin, deltamethrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, cypermethrin, pyrethroids pymetrozine or spiromesifen to control the insect. Be aware that preventive measures are often enough to reduce the population to harmless level.

Preventive Measures

  • Monitor your field with yellow sticky traps (20 per ac).
  • Perform intercropping practices with non-susceptible plants.
  • Use companion crops that attract or deter whiteflies (nasturtiums, zinnias, hummingbird bush, pineapple sage, bee balm).
  • Plant tall growing plants like maize, sorghum or pearl millet in dense rows as border crops.
  • Consult with your neighbors and make sure to sow at the right time, not too early nor too late.
  • Use denser plant space at planting.
  • Watch for signs of whitefly on new purchases or transplants.
  • Ensure a balanced plant fertilization.
  • Do not use broad-spectrum insecticides that can affect beneficial insects.
  • Remove leaves with eggs or larvae on them.
  • At early stages of infection, place sticky traps in the fields to mass-catch whiteflies.
  • Control weeds and alternate hosts in and around the field.
  • Remove plant residues from the field or greenhouse after harvest.
  • Plan a short fallow at warm temperatures.
  • UV-absorbing greenhouse plastic films can reduce infestations.