Whiteflies are small flies, approximately 1/8 of an inch long. They are completely white and can be seen flying off your plants when you shake them. These insects pierce the outer layer of your plants and extract the liquids contained inside.
The whitefly can carry diseases and exude a sticky, sugary concentrate of plant juices that can promote mold growth. It also reproduces rapidly and can become a problem in no time. There are two ways to treat an infestation: pesticides and using other insect predators.
The first way to rid yourself of whiteflies is through the use of pesticide sprays. They are easily eradicated with natural sprays. Most gardening and garden supply stores carry these sprays. The most effective sprays are the ones which contain pyrethrum, although you can also purchase an insecticidal soap or make a homemade spray.
These sprays are all usually applied in the same way. First, you remove all the leaves that are more than 50% damaged and burn them or cure them in a heated temperature of more than 200 degrees Fahrenheit(to kill all the remaining whitefly eggs). Then spray a fine mist over the infected plants, twice, completely covering them each time. Repeat this treatment about every 5-10 days, depending on your level of infestation.
Your infestation levels should improve and begin to show signs of improvement immediately(within a day or two after every spraying). After spraying it would also be wise to add a few natural predators to keep from using harsh insecticides on your plants.
Natural predators are an excellent way to rid yourself of whiteflies and the damaging effects they can have on your plants. Encarsia Formosa are by far the most effective whitefly predator(the only other real alternative is the praying mantis). These small wasps attack whiteflies, they do not sting people.
They are so small, once you release them you will probably never see them again. As with all predator insects, you must completely wash off all the toxic residues left on your plants from insecticides before you introduce them into your garden environment. The parasite attaches itself to the body of the whitefly and begins to feed on its host and when finished lays its eggs inside its body cavity.
The wasps take a couple of weeks to begin showing any effects. You should first use an insecticidal spray to bring down the population and then use the wasps to control the infestation from there on out. After cleaning the toxins from your garden, set the parasites out at 2-3 per plant, and repeat every 2-4 weeks throughout the plant’s life.
Whiteflies are known to be attracted to the color yellow. If you take some yellow strips of paper and apply an adhesive to it, you can position these around your garden or on the tops of your plant’s containers as makeshift “whitefly traps”. If these strips and just a few intarsia Formosa are added at the beginning of your garden whitefly and a few other types of insects will always be kept in constant check. Good luck with your whitefly problems and happy gardening!