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Rid Your Garden of White Flies

I inherited my love of gardening from my mother and grandmother. I am a garden blogger, freelance writer, and Master Gardener emeritus.

Control white flies early

White Fly: Trialeurodes vaporariorum

White flie are annoying but generally will not cause harm. You have inspired me to write a hub about these tiny sap suckers because they can be controled without chemicals. First, get out the hose and blast them off.

We can expect white flies to continue to get worse as our region gets warmer. Used to be that the cold of freezing winters were a great control method for us.

White flies can be brought into your garden area from an infested green house plant, a gift plants or sometimes from plants purchased from a commercial source. You may bring home plants that have have become infested in a greenhouse. “Greenhouse Whitefly” is a common name for this pest.

Strong healthy plants growing in rich organic soil have fewer problems with white fly. Healthy soil produces healthy plants. White flies are mostly an aggravation rather than a threat to plants. However a serious infestation can stress your plants.

Some home garden plants affected by white fly: Coleus, Fuchsia, Verbena, Perennial Salvia, Summer Squash and Tomato.

Sap-sucking white flies can transmit diseases. If you are in an area with few freezes, white flies may be an annual problem. Your solution can be a commercial option or a home made trap.

White Fly and Nymphs

White fly solution

I've brought my trusty dust buster to the garden (shop vac work too) to suck up white flies to decrease to population. Laugh at me it you must, but it works. Then, use sticky traps.

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Most garden centers and catalogs sell yellow sticky traps good for inside spaces like your home, porch or greenhouse. If you are battling white flies in an outdoor garden area, consider making your own larger sticky traps.

Paint or buy sheets of plastic or cardboard in a bright yellow (The color of sunflowers). Coat the sheets with an “insect trapping adhesive” like Tanglefoot. Hang the traps near the affected plants. The little insects will get stuck to the sticky paper.

Insecticidal soap works well. If you think it doesn't work, you probably aren't spraying the UNDER side of the leaves, where the white flies hang out for their entire lifetime. A light spray with horticultural oil will work as well. Just make sure to spray the underside of leaves.

Whitefly adults, nymphs and eggs reside on the underside of leaves. If there are lots of white flies on the top side of leaves, it's because they are running out of room underneath. That's an infestation.

Even if you think you've removed the problem, they seem to quickly return. White fly eggs hatch every few days. You may have wiped out the adult population, but those hatching eggs will quickly repopulate your plants.

The population will decrease with every treatment. Repeated treatment will eventually rid your garden of white flies.


Patsy Bell Hobson (author) from zone 6a, Southeast Missouri, USA on April 06, 2012:

Sounds like a great idea. Does this leave a film over your produce? For example, would your tomatoes be hot from the spray?

Suzanne Sheffield from Mid-Atlantic on April 06, 2012:

I use dish liquid mixed with red pepper in a spray bottle on everything.

Shelly McRae from Phoenix, Arizona on April 05, 2012:

Thanks for sharing your solution, Patsybell. I'll give it a try.

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