The presence of houseplants lends an air of vitality to a home. It’s nice to come home to a sprinkling of greenery, and tending to indoor plants can be both relaxing and rewarding. How would you feel if, however, your houseplants began to wilt and die? You’ll be down in the dumps, of course. There are several reasons why this might happen, with whiteflies being one of them.
Photo Credit Severe whitefly feeding on plants will quickly weaken them and render them incapable of photosynthesis.
Whiteflies are notoriously difficult to remove once they have established on a plant, which is why it is absolutely crucial to identify the early warning signs of an infestation and then take the proper steps to get rid of these nasty creatures in due time.
To get rid of whiteflies, you can use many simple, cost-free, and natural ways. Whiteflies, for instance, can be eliminated without using harmful chemicals by spraying them with high-pressure water, neem oil, or a made-at-home insecticidal soap spray.
Whiteflies can also be captured using sticky traps. In addition, predatory insects and other biological control methods can also be used to reduce the whitefly population. And lastly, precautions must be taken to forestall such attacks in the future.
Keep reading to find out how to get rid of whiteflies on houseplants and, more importantly, how to prevent future infestations in detail.
What Are Whiteflies?
Photo Credit Under ideal conditions, whiteflies complete their life cycle in three weeks, allowing populations to grow swiftly.
Whiteflies are winged, soft-bodied insects that are closely related to mealybugs and aphids and are a common pest of houseplants. However, whiteflies, despite what their name might suggest, are not a species of fly, even though they have wings and can fly. Whiteflies can be as small as one-tenth of an inch in length and have a somewhat triangular form.
They keep their wings in a horizontal position relative to the surface of the leaf, and their cuticle is somewhat white and sticky. You will most likely find whiteflies in groups on the underside of the leaves. Whiteflies are relatively simpler to spot than the majority of plant pests.
This is due to the fact that, unlike most plant pests, which are only active at night, whiteflies remain active during the day and can be easily seen.
Life Cycle Of Whiteflies
The life cycles of whiteflies begin late in the spring, which is the perfect breeding season for most unwanted plant pests. First, females mate and then lay eggs in a circular arrangement just below the surface of a leaf. It takes these eggs around seven days to develop to the point where they can finally hatch. The resulting baby whiteflies (nymphs) are called crawlers.
The crawlers search for a good area to eat and begin feeding on sensitive leaves as soon as they find any. Depending on the temperature and humidity levels, hatching an egg, developing into a nymph, and maturing into an adult can be completed in approximately twenty-five days.
Identifying Whitefly Damage
Photo Credit Whiteflies can cause plant stunting, wilting, yellowing, defoliation, lower yields, and even death.
These annoying insects are not only a pain for gardeners to deal with, but they are also detrimental to the well-being of the plant they feed on.
They also continue to consume food during essentially every stage of their development.
They cause most of their damage by sucking the juices out of the plant’s foliage and flower buds, which causes the foliage and flower buds to become yellow and fall off the plant.
While feeding, whiteflies also leave behind a sticky fluid known as honeydew, which can attract other pests and stimulate the growth of mold that can cause other problems for the plants.
Whitefly infestations of a houseplant can cause severe damage if they are allowed to continue. And if the situation is not brought under control on time, the plant may die.
How To Get Rid Of Whiteflies
Photo Credit Start by blasting whiteflies, aphids, and other insect pests off your plants with your watering hose.
The single most critical piece of guidance we can give you is to get going as quickly as you possibly can! This is only achievable if you are able to spot the infestation early.
Also, like most pests, whiteflies can be kept at bay with the help of a good plant defense system (immune system). In a general sense, unhealthy plants are more prone to infestations, which is why you should make sure that your plants are healthy and fresh.
Furthermore, inspect the undersides of the leaflets regularly for any eggs, and take alert if you see any small insects flying away from your plants in the morning.
If you observe any of these signs, you should begin the treatment as soon as possible.
Nevertheless, here are some low-cost, low-impact, and easy-to-implement strategies for eliminating whiteflies from your home.
Using High-Pressure Water Spray
Simple but efficient! Spraying the houseplant with either a water hose or a spray bottle is the first action that should always be taken when attempting to get rid of whiteflies.
They will be scattered by the pressure of the water, which will also partially dislodge the nymphs and eggs. Because nymphs do not move around very much beyond the initial crawling stage, they will perish from starvation if they are separated from their food source.
Clipping The Infested Leaves
When dealing with plants that have a severe infestation, you should carefully remove the leaves or clip off infested parts of the plant. You have the option of doing this with either your hands or gardening scissors. This will help in the control of the whitefly population.
Additionally, make an effort to keep the general cleanliness of your houseplants by wiping them down with a towel that has been dipped in a bowl of rubbing alcohol, dishwashing solution, or water. This will also help you to preserve the fresh appearance of your plants.
Using Insecticidal Soap Spray
The use of insecticidal soap on the plant’s leaves and stems is also an effective method for getting rid of whiteflies. Whiteflies can be eradicated from plant life both indoors and outside with the use of this spray. However, the spray solution needs to cover the plants thoroughly, and multiple applications may be required.
Additionally, you should spray the plant while the temperature is low, such as in the morning or at night, because high temperatures can be harmful to plants.
Using Neem Oil
Natural essential oils, such as neem oil, do wonders for eradicating and getting rid of pests, and the odor of these oils last for a long time after they are sprayed, thus providing short-term protection as well. To apply neem oil, simply spray it across both the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves. Instead of releasing a steady stream of water, the sprayer nozzle should be modified such that it mists or sprays the liquid instead.
This procedure must be repeated every 48 hours. Neem oil will eliminate whiteflies at all stages of development while also preventing the growth of sooty mold.
Using Yellow Sticky Traps
Whiteflies are drawn to yellow sticky traps because the color yellow makes it seem as though tasty leaves are abundant nearby. Placing sticky cards is more of an identification tool than control, but it can still help. Whiteflies that land on the trap are immediately ensnared by the glue-like substance that covers the trap, and they are unable to flee.
When using sticky traps, you should position them, so the sticky side faces the plant. The size and quantity of plants will determine how many traps you need to use to catch the pests. As a general rule of thumb, you should set up one sticky trap for every two large plants.
Using A Vacuum Cleaner
Whiteflies can also be readily eliminated from your houseplants by using a vacuum cleaner, but this method is only effective if used early on, before an infestation has become serious. All you have to do is visit your plants every few days and carefully vacuum the underside of leaves using a vacuum with a low suction setting to get rid of eggs, larvae, and adults.
Photo Credit The parasitoids Encarsia and Eretmocerus are whiteflies’ most commonly used biological control agents.
There is also the option of using biological control methods to manage the whitefly population. And when it comes to protecting your houseplants from whiteflies, we recommend implementing these two strategies.
Whiteflies are susceptible to attack from a wide variety of natural enemies, such as birds and insects. You can take advantage of houseplants’ natural predators, such as ladybugs, green lacewings, dragonflies, and whitefly parasite wasps.
Whitefly populations can be considerably reduced if an environment is created that will both attract and support the presence of these beneficial species. Beneficial insects are most likely already present in the natural environment close to your house.
If, on the other hand, your property does not already have an ecosystem of this kind, you can easily establish one by cultivating buckwheat, dara, creeping thyme, sweet alyssum, and any other plants that are attractive to beneficial insects.
A risk-free and straightforward method for warding off whiteflies is to place a plant that is naturally repellent in close proximity to the plants that are being affected by the pest.
Tomatoes, peppers, onions, and other plants with strong odors, like garlic and sage, are all examples of natural pest deterrents. Whiteflies avoid plants with a strong aroma; thus, they won’t bother these plants because they have a strong scent themselves.
Photo Credit Effective insecticides for controlling whiteflies include Bifenthrin, Buprofezin, and Pymetrozine.
Even though chemical-based pesticides should typically not be used on house plants, pyrethrin spray is generally recommended in cases of a severe infestation as it degrades quickly and does not survive in the environment for a long time.
The use of pyrethrin spray has been shown to have a narcotic impact on the nervous systems of pest insects. The insect experiences a type of paralysis and dies almost instantly after coming into contact with pyrethrin. However, pyrethrin should only be used in limited amounts, such as spot sprays, and its overuse should be avoided at all costs.
Keep in mind, too, that it poses a risk to beneficial insects like honey bees and ladybugs as well. So, if you want to keep these beneficial bugs around, you should limit your use of pyrethrin.
Photo Credit Prevention is better than cure. You can prevent whitefly infestation with the following tricks.
Whiteflies can be effectively fought off by prevention, which is the most effective method. So, if you want to avoid having a problem with whiteflies in the first place, you shouldn’t wait for an attack to happen before you take preventative actions. The following procedures can be used to prevent an infestation of whiteflies from occurring:
Planting shoofly plants around your garden might help keep whiteflies at bay. The name “shoofly plant” comes from the fact that the pungent odor given off by the shoofly plant effectively wards off whiteflies and other pests.
It’s most typically used in milk as a toxic bait for houseflies and blowflies. These plants will repel whiteflies on the leaves of houseplants or greenhouses. However, you must use extreme caution when handling shoofly plants because they are also toxic to human beings.
The use of a spray made of seaweed is yet another method for avoiding the return of whiteflies. If you spray the foliage of your houseplants with seaweed spray, it will make the plant unsuitable for whitefly reproduction, and the whiteflies will not lay eggs on your houseplants.
You can easily find seaweed spray at most garden supply stores.
There are additional advantages associated with using seaweed spray. It is applied to the soil in the form of fertilizer and helps the plant’s immune system.
This spray can be used in the garden and the greenhouse, and it can be applied to houseplants one week before bringing them inside.
Take Care When Buying New Plants
Before you transport your newly purchased plants back to your house from the nursery, you should give them a thorough inspection. You can examine your plants by looking at the underside of the leaf surfaces to see if there are any nymphs or eggs there.
In the event that you do locate any, you are free to cut off those portions. In addition, give the plant the typical slight shaking and keep a watch out for flying adults.
Lastly, when you are tending to your garden and completing weekly maintenance duties like fertilizing or watering, make it a habit to inspect your plants and keep a close eye out for any early signs of pest infestation.
Use Of Fertilizers
Fertilizers can encourage the growth of some pests, such as whiteflies. This is because excessive nitrogen contributes to overly accelerated plant development, making it easier for plant-eating insects to have more offspring in a short time.
Therefore, the goal should be to maintain plant growth while avoiding excessive nitrogen in the media. In order to accomplish this objective, you need to use light fertilizers and stay away from powerful ones. As a final piece of advice, it is recommended that organic fertilizers be used because they slowly release reasonable levels of nutrients into the soil while also promoting the plant’s growth in a manner that is not too rapid.
Depending on where you reside and the plant in question, a wide variety of whiteflies could be responsible for an infestation. The good news is that whiteflies on plants are simple to eliminate. Just stick to the advice above, and before long, you’ll have a garden that will be the talk of the block. Furthermore, prevention is the ideal method of management. Hence, keep a close eye on your plants and adapt accordingly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can vinegar get rid of whiteflies?
When it comes to getting rid of whiteflies, white vinegar can work wonders. You can also create your own insecticidal spray with vinegar at home. Just combine 1 gallon of water, two teaspoons of baking soda, two teaspoons of dishwashing liquid, and two teaspoons of white vinegar in a bucket. And spray the resulting mixture on your plants.
What is the best insecticide for whiteflies?
Imidacloprid, a systemic pesticide applied to the soil, has been hailed as the most effective herbicide treatment for white flies. It’s a low-toxicity substance that targets neurotransmitters in insects; it’s been shown to be highly efficient against whiteflies. It can, however, also harm natural enemies such as honey bees and other pollinators in the garden.
How do I eliminate white flies?
Adult whiteflies can be eliminated with a simple solution made up of liquid dish detergent and water. This solution does not affect the plants in any way.
However, if that does not work, you can kill these pests by spraying the underside of the leaves of your plant with a soap spray or Neem oil.
What causes whitefly infestation?
An overabundance of nitrogen fertilization can lead to an increase in the frequency of whitefly infestations. Over-fertilizing your garden with nitrogen can make your plants healthier, but it can also attract whiteflies, which can lead to more frequent infestations and, as a result, significant damage to your house and garden plants.
Do white flies lay eggs in the soil?
Whiteflies spend the most time on the leaves but can also spread to the soil. When the eggs hatch, the larvae consume plant matter resting on the earth’s surface. They do this until they develop wings, at which point they go into the leaves and then into the soil to lay eggs.
What are whiteflies attracted to?
Whiteflies are drawn to yellow objects, which is why yellow sticky traps are used in gardens and greenhouses. Sticky cards, stakes, or tapes can be employed, as is more appropriate, as a monitoring device because they capture only the flying adults.
Where do whiteflies come from?
Infested greenhouse plants and produce are the most common way for homeowners to bring whiteflies inside their homes. They are difficult to spot because they conceal themselves and consume food on the undersides of leaves. Warm temperatures accelerate the development of whiteflies, and whitefly populations can rapidly expand in warm areas.
Sources For Further Reading
Whiteflies on Indoor Plants | University of Maryland Extension. (2022). Retrieved 15 October 2022, from https://extension.umd.edu/resource/whiteflies-indoor-plants#:~:text=Whiteflies%20injure%20plants%20by%20sucking,a%20plant%20that%20appears%20unthrifty.
How do I control whiteflies on houseplants? (2022). ISU Extension and Outreach. Retrieved 15 October 2022, from https://hortnews.extension.iastate.edu/faq/how-do-i-control-whiteflies-houseplants
Plants, M. (2022). The University of Missouri. Managing Whiteflies on Indoor and Outdoor Plants. Retrieved 15 October 2022, from https://extension.missouri.edu/publications/g7275
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