As their name implies, whiteflies are in fact...tiny white colored flies. They are about 1/8 of an inch long and are found feeding on the bottom of leaves of many types of plants. The wings of the adults are covered with a powdery substance that gives them their white color.

These sucking insects can cause a lot of damage whenever they build up to large numbers. Their droppings (honeydew) may cause the appearance of sooty mold on leaves and plant parts beneath where they are feeding. At times, they may act as a vector for the spread of diseases as they go from plant to plant.

Whiteflies go through five life stages and they are not all susceptible to typical control options. As eggs, they are resistant to most insecticides. The newly hatched crawlers are killed by contact insecticides but they soon form a scale like covering and are resistant except to systemic materials. The adult, winged stage is susceptible to both contact and systemic insecticides. Since all stages are commonly present on an infested plant, it may take at least 3 applications spread over intervals of 4 to 6 days to control whiteflies.

Note: We have provided some general information and observations on this topic aimed at the home gardener. Before you take any serious action in your landscape, check with your state's land grant university's Cooperative Extension Service for the most current, appropriate, localized recommendations.

Types of Insects

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