Whitefly infestations are difficult to get rid of for several reasons. For one thing, broad-spectrum insecticides are not recommended, as these products tend to eliminate not only the whiteflies but the lady beetles (ladybugs), spiders, and parasitic wasps that live in your yard and prey on whiteflies. Monitoring your plants for whiteflies is the first line of defense when dealing with these and other garden insects, such as scale, aphids, and thrips. In the morning, or at dusk, spray your plants with a garden hose. If you see a cloud of whiteflies rising from your plants, pest control experts recommend spraying the plants as vigorously as possible with water to dislodge whitefly nymphs and eggs on the underside of the leaves of your plants. After you’ve determined that whiteflies are infesting your plants, your best bet is to contact an experienced pest control expert.
However, some homeowners have found temporary success with a variety of the below.
- Neem Oil – Using natural products, such as neem or other plant-based products, may suffocate whiteflies on contact. A mixture of dish soap and neem oil applied to the undersides of leaves can help reduce whiteflies.
- Vacuum – Some DIY homeowners suggest vacuuming the affected tree branches and leaves early in the morning when the cooler temperatures cause insects to move more slowly. You will need to dispose of the vacuum bag in an air-tight bag.
- Beneficial insects – Importing natural predators, such as lady beetles, otherwise known as ladybugs, can help get rid of whiteflies, as just one tiny Delphastus can consume more than 150 whitefly eggs daily. Tiny parasitic wasps, such as Encarsia formosa either kill whitefly nymphs immediately and eat them or lay eggs inside whitefly nymphs. Once the wasp eggs start feeding on whitefly nymphs internally, the nymphs turn black and stop feeding on plants. The average homeowner would not be able to do this.
- Imidacloprid – A low-toxicity product, Imidacloprid, mimics nicotine, affecting whitefly nervous systems, causing damage at the cellular level. Applied once a year, to thirsty plants, Imidacloprid seeps into plants through their roots. It’s important to follow the manufacturer's instructions and avoid applying Imidacloprid during the period one month prior to or during the time when plants bloom, in order to protect honeybees.
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