Pest Control: Whiteflies

 

Whiteflies are small sap-sucking insects that typically feed on the undersides of plant leaves and can inflict direct and indirect damage to a wide variety of crops and ornamentals.

                                                                                    

 

Direct damage 

Whiteflies congregat in large numbers and feed on plant sap.  Susceptible plants can be quickly overwhelmed, however the indirect damage caused by whiteflies may be even worse than the direct damage.

 

Black fungal mold 

Whiteflies secrete a sticky honeydew that supports black sooty mold growth. Plant sap is rich in sugars and whiteflies excrete excess sugar in the form of honeydew, making the crop and its fruit, sticky. Black fungal molds grow on the honeydew, contaminating the fruit. Additionally, the photosynthesis in the leaves is reduced, which affects production.

Disease transmission

Whiteflies vector several plant viruses. Monitoring and identification are crucial to managing the plant diseases within the crops.

Natural Enemies

There are specific natural enemies for different species of whitefly.

The primary beneficial insects that are natural enemies of whiteflies are as follows.

Click the name of the beneficial insect for additional information. 

BioSwirski (Amblyseius swirskii) is an efficient predatory mite used for the control of young stages of the western flower thrips as well as the eggs and young nymphs of white flies. It also feeds on red spider mites as well as on broad mites.

BioEncarsia - (Encarsia formosa) is a parasitic wasp of the Aphelinidae family. E. formosa can utilize at least 15 species of whitefly as hosts but the principal host is the greenhouse whitely.

BioEretmocerus - (Eretmocerus eremicus) is a parasitic wasp used for the control of  sweet potato whitefly and greenhouse whitely.

BioDelphastus - (Delphastus catalinae) is a predatory beetle for the control of  cotton whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) and greenhouse whitefly (Trialeurodes vaporariorum). Adult D. catalinae black beetles with yellow legs while their larvae are elongated with legs, cream-colored and covered with short fine hairs. The pupae are yellow and spherical. The coloration of the head distinguishes males (orange head) from females (black head). BioDelphastus requires sufficient feed (whitefly eggs) in order to reproduce.

In addition to these insects, the following insects also target whiteflies along with their primary enemies:

BioCryptolaemus(Cryptolaemus montrouzieri) is a predatory beetle, also known as the “Mealybug destroyer” because it is a voracious predator of multiple species of mealybugs in both greenhouses and open fields.

BioLacewing - BioLacewing (Chrysoperla rufilabris) also known as the red-lipped green lacewing, is an insect of the Chrysopidae family. The delicate looking adult feeds on nectar and pollen while the larvae of BioLacewing is the active predator. The three larval instars, are the voracious ones.

BioOrius(Orius insidiosus) also known as the insidiosus flower bug, is a predatory minute pirate bug equipped with piercing-sucking rostrum and two pairs of wings, the front pair being partially rigid. Omnivorous, it feeds on plant pollen, sap and a large variety of insect prey. The adult BioOrius female can lay between 150-200 eggs during her lifetime. The availability of quality feed, such as BioArtFeed (premium Artemia cysts) improves its establishment in the crop as well as its development and reproduction.