Whiteflies are small flying insects that attack various types of plant material as well as trees. They lay their eggs on the undersides of the leaves. As the eggs develop, they absorb nutrients from the plant causing leaves to drop, color to fade and the plant to stress. There are two major types of whiteflies that you will see in South Florida:
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Whiteflies generally live for three (3) months or less. Adult whitefly females deposit around 400 eggs during the spring. You will find these clustered eggs on the underside of the highest leaves. In the next five (5) to ten (10) days, the eggs begin to hatch into nymphs that move away from the egg shells and latch onto a leaf to feed. The whitefly nymph grows to adulthood within 25 days and lives for another one to two months after then.
Whiteflies are usually found outdoors, where there are plants to feed on. However, during the winter, they cannot survive the harsh cold and may find their way to your home or into greenhouse plants. Before you buy any greenhouse plant after the winter, ensure that you properly check for whitefly eggs and nymphs, as you could unknowingly bring home hundreds of them.
Whiteflies are dangerous to every kind of plant. If you have an outdoor garden, you want to be more watchful during the summer. Greenhouse plants are also at risk when whiteflies seek warmth and refuge indoors during the winter.
Some species of whiteflies are known to transmit the geminivirus that causes tomato yellow leaf curl. Some of them also eat fruits and leave them to ripen unevenly.
Whiteflies are naturally attracted to plants, especially nitrogen-rich ones. If you excessively fertilize your plants with nitrogen, you may be inviting whiteflies to a feast. Once they make it into your garden, it can only take the expertise of a pest control company to rid your home and garden of them.
Whiteflies are some of the most difficult pests to exterminate. This is usually because they lay a huge number of eggs throughout the year. These eggs, up to 400, can be found on the underside of leaves, which makes them difficult to find if you don’t look thoroughly enough. Also, when they become nymphs, they hardly move around, making them even harder to find until they become adults that can also lay 400 more eggs.
The best treatment for whiteflies would be found with a trained specialist in pest control. Home remedies can help you get rid of some adults but will do little or no harm to the eggs and nymphs. This leaves your garden at risk of infestation. You can try home remedies like a mixture of dish soap, water, and vinegar. Spray this mixture in your garden when the temperature is cool, especially at night or at the beginning stages of winter.
If you fear a whitefly infestation might grow into something else in your garden, you should consider spraying several home remedy mixtures at least once every 72 hours. This doesn’t guarantee a complete extermination of all the adults and eggs but will limit the level of damage they can cause. You should also consider repeating this process for around two months, as you must ensure that all nymphs and eggs have become adults and have been exterminated.
Whiteflies may not make it back after the winter. They are usually seasonal pests. However, they can get into your indoor garden in winter to seek shelter and warmth. Once the winter is over, they make their way back outdoors and continue to wreak havoc.
Although whiteflies are found on leaves and fruits, they don’t live in the soil. They stay on leaves from their egg stage to the adult stage and only leave or die when winter comes.
Adult whiteflies can be killed within just three hours under 21 degrees Fahrenheit. However, eggs and nymphs take way longer. Nymphs can be killed under the same temperature in about 57 hours, and eggs may live for up to 20 days, depending on when they are laid.
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