Whiteflies

Facts, Identification & Control

Latin Name

Lasioderma serricorne (Fabricius)

Appearance

What do they look like?

Whiteflies might be mistaken for a fly, but they are not actually members of the fly family. They are belong to the order of true bugs Hemiptera.

Whiteflies have two pair of powdery, mothlike wings as adults. 

How Did I Get Whiteflies?

Homeowners usually bring whiteflies inside through infested greenhouse plants and produce. They hide and feed on the undersides of leaves, which makes them hard to detect. Additionally, certain ornamentals, such as hibiscus plants and mulberry trees, attract whiteflies.

How Serious Are Whiteflies?

Whitefly feeding can be fatal to some plants. Foliage that survives the damage is often unsightly and may suffer stunted growth. Whiteflies also excrete honeydew, which causes mold and attracts other insects, like ants. One of the best ways to prevent serious damage to indoor plants is to quarantine and inspect any new plants brought inside to make sure they are not infested.

Signs of a Whitefly Infestation

Plants infested with whiteflies may have yellowing leaves which eventually drop. Whiteflies excrete a sugary substance called honeydew as a by-product of their feeding. This can appear as a shiny residue on plants. As the honeydew ages, mold may grow in it. A final sign would be the adults which may be seen flying from a shaken plant.

Unfortunately, many species of whitefly have become resistant to some commercially available pesticides, and growers may need to explore other options such as sticky traps to combat an infestation.


Behavior, Diet & Habits

Where do they live?
These insects thrive in tropical and subtropical regions and are becoming increasingly troublesome for large-scale agricultural farms. Economic losses from white fly infestations are estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

What do they eat?
The diet of whiteflies consists of juices they extract from plants. All stages usually are found on the underside of plant leaves.

Reproduction & Life Cycle

Whiteflies have a rapid reproduction cycle and cause significant damage to garden and potted plants. Females deposit between 200 and 400 eggs.