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Need help with identifying your insect?  Click here Lucid Key to Insects

Identifying characteristics- Adult whiteflies are minute insects resembling moths, but are covered with a white waxy powder.  They are rarely more then 1-3 mm in length, and are typically found on the underside of leaves.  The immature forms have a scale-like appearance, and are also found on the underside of foliage.

Greenhouse whitefly-Adults hold their wings flat over their bodies. The pupa has sides that are parallel to each other with hairs covering it.

Silverleaf whitefly- This adult is a bit smaller and more yellow.  Their wings are held roof-like at about a 45 angle.  The pupa case is more domed shaped, with a few random hairs.

Sweet potato whitefly-This adult also holds its wings in a roof like manner, with dome shaped pupa with few random hairs

Biology- Adult female whiteflies insert their eggs into leaf tissue.  A minute larval/crawler stage hatches out, and begins to feed on leaf tissue.  It does this by inserting its mouthparts into leaves and sucking sap from the phloem.  At this stage it is called a scale.  It is called this because it resembles a soft scale insect.  While feeding, a sticky waste substance is excreted by the insect (commonly called honeydew).  This liquid adheres to leaves, and provides a medium for sooty mold to colonize and grow on.  Sooty mold is black, and eventually covers leaves and stems.  This mold inhibits infected portions of the plant from photosynthesizing, and also causes aesthetic damage.  After growing through several scale instars, the larvae finally enter a pupal stage.  Here, becoming sexually mature, whiteflies take on the adult form, and eventually emerge as winged adults.                                   

Plant injury symptoms- Infested plants are seemingly chlorotic, causing on some plant varieties a silvery appearance.  Such plants have signs of sooty mold on steams and leaves.  Ants are often present feeding on the sugary honeydew waste droplets. 

Need help with ID? Try here Whitefly Pupa of the World Website

Whitefly pupa

Whitefly eggs

Adult whitefly

Control Methods

Reduced Risk Products

Horticultural Oil  
Insecticidal Soap  

Beneficial Insects

Encarsia formosa
Eretmocerus eremicus  
Chrysoperla spp  

Whitefly Facts

o These pests can vector plant diseases.

o Look for ants on plants, if present there is a good chance you have a sucking insect problem.

o Whiteflies are attracted to yellow: Use yellow sticky cards to monitor populations.

o Be sure to know the difference between the whiteflies, so you use the right parasite

o Monitor populations; it is possible for the whiteflies to be resistant to one or more insecticides.

o Be sure to control weeds in nursery, these are alternate hosts for whitefly

Whitefly Links


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