Friday, October 16th, 2009...12:00 am

Whiteflies are Annoying Plant Pests

whitey the whitefly =) by ProDigi

whitey the whitefly =) by ProDigi

In the last post, TheGardenLady explained one reason why this time of year makes her sad.  Here’s another reason, the fear of bringing in plant pests.

Whitefly is of special concern.  See here.  Whitefly can get on your plants when they are outdoors. But it is a major problem of greenhouses or homes. One of the plants that I bring in for the winter is my Brugmansia or angel trumpet. This is a plant that  is prone to whitefly. Friends have thrown out their Brugmansia plants because of the infestation of whitefly on them. Sometimes one has to get rid of plants when the infestation is extremely large but there is no room to properly care for the plant. My house is not very large and some of these plants have become enormous trees which I can’t really spray indoors should they have an infestation. Or you might have to get rid of a pest ridden plant if you fear the infestation will spread to other plants. This is also a fear I have with two dozen other plants in my relatively small place. I have been lucky. In all the years that I have had plants indoors and in the three years I have been bringing my Brugmansia indoors, my plants have never had any pests.

Because with plants in an artificial environment such as a house, a stressful environment for plants, there is always the possibility of getting plant pests. Pests are a fact of plant life. And sometimes one has to bite the bullet and get rid of a sick plant as much as one loves it. Whiteflies feed on more than five hundred species of host plants so it is almost inevitable that one of your indoor plants will get them. A friend had two of the most handsome gardenia trees in her sun porch. I had never seen anyone grow gardenias so successfully indoors. They were filled with flowers and the fragrance was overwhelming. Then one day when I visited, one was gone. It had been devastated by whiteflies and died.

What does one do if one has whitefly? Whitefly is rather easy to detect. You can easily see whitefly because the plant looks like there is a cottony substance on the leaves. So inspect leaves, especially the underside for the presence of feeding immatures. Throw out leaves that have a lot of whitefly immatures on them. lf you hit the plant, tiny adult mothlike flies will fly a few inches from the plant.

Whitefly is quite difficult to get rid of. But with persistence perhaps you can be lucky and eradicate the problem. Whiteflies are known to be attracted to the color yellow. You can make your own sticky traps for whitefly by cutting yellow strips of paper, applying an adhesive or motor oil to it and putting these strips around your plants ; or you can buy yellow sticky traps (see here). These sticky traps can give you an idea of how numerous the infestation is. There are some chemical products that are used to get rid of whitefly but TheGardenLady has read that these are not that effective.  See here.  Some good organic products to use are insecticidal soaps or insecticidal oils like Neem oil.  See here.

You might try to make your own spray solution by using 1- head of garlic, crushed and put in 1 – gallon container filled with water. Close the container and let it sit in the sunshine for 2 or 3 weeks. Strain out the solids and keep the liquid in a cool dark place. Put 1 cup of this solution in a 1 quart spray mister bottle and add a little dish washing solution like Joy or Dawn or whatever you use. Spray the plant well. Or try putting earth worm castings (this is worm poop or frass) in the pot of soil. See here.  Whitefly does not like worm castings and they are a nutrient for the plant.

Related Content:

1 Comment

  • Nice website, you know in my garden I combat insect using worm tea that is made from worm castings. I will brew the castings in water overnight, the next day I will then spray the worm tea onto my plants. It works great. Jack

Leave a Reply