In this article, we will share experiences from foreign farmers and tell you how to identify and get rid of whiteflies. These small insects can bring a lot of trouble and pose a serious threat to plants.
A bit of theory
Whiteflies, also known as aleurodids, are soft-rooted winged insects that are closely related to aphids and mealybugs. They live in most regions, however, are so small that it is extremely difficult to detect them.
Flies can be no larger than 2 mm, form a triangle in top form and often accumulate on the lower part of the leaves. Extremely active in the daytime, so they are easier to detect than some other nocturnal pests. Whitecaps are able to survive the winter, and in warm regions multiply throughout the year.
One of the most common species is the tobacco whitefly, which is slightly smaller than its relatives and has a yellow color. It is widely distributed in various regions and affects a wide range of plants.
Often you can see the whitefly in late summer, when the weather is warm, and also in greenhouses. This pest loves to suck liquid from heat-loving vegetables, for example, tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, ocres. The insect also affects sweet potatoes and cabbage.
How to detect whitefly on plants
The white flies suck the juices from the plants and, in turn, produce a sticky substance, known as the “honeydew”. Left on the leaves, the pad can cause fungal diseases.
Under the influence of the whitefly, the plants quickly become weaker:
- they lose the ability to photosynthesize;
- leaves fade, turn pale or turn yellow, and further growth stops;
- honeydew is a sign that pests have been feeding on this plant for several days;
- you can also notice a cluster of ants that this sweetish liquid attracts.
Check the bottom of the leaves around the veins for the presence of honeydew and white insects, even when, at first glance, they are not visible. If you find the moment when the pests are fed, they will sharply fly off the leaf with a whole swarm, so that it will not be difficult to notice them.
Sometimes you can find eggs on the leaves. This is the beginning of a new generation. When they hatch, small white larvae in the shape of an oval will immediately suck the plant juice, while they can not yet move. For this reason, gardeners often do not notice the whitefly until it’s too late. Adult females can produce up to 400 eggs that hatch within a period of one week to a month. To the leaf they are attached in circles, and the color varies from pale yellow (recently laid) to brown (ready to hatch).
Methods of struggle
To control the whitefly, there is a rich arsenal of tips and traps that you can use. But the most important – the earlier you start, the better the result will be. In the morning and evening, when you walk in the garden, check the underside of the leaves and pay attention to the flocks of small flies that fly away at your approach.
Always start by spraying water with a hose for irrigation (it concerns not only whiteflies, but also aphids and many other insects). This will cause the pests to fly apart. Then treat the leaves with insecticide soap. Spray the substance completely from both sides. Treatment should be carried out at the end of the day, when it’s cool outside, as heat can cause adverse plant reactions to the insecticide. Repeat the procedure 2-3 times.
According to the stories of professional gardeners, a mixture of dishwashing detergents with water in the ratio of 1 large syringe to 4.5 liters of liquid is very helpful. Spray should also be in the morning and evening hours, when the street is still cool. It should be noted that this compound is a sparing agent, therefore it is more suitable for preventing the development of a pest population than for destroying it.
If solutions do not help, and the number of harmful insects does not decrease, you can use a manual vacuum cleaner every few days to remove flies from plants. This helps both against adults and against larvae.
The presence of predator insects on the site to prevent a sharp increase in the number of whiteflies. Ladybirds, spiders, lacewings and dragonflies are some useful insects that will help keep the pest population under control. Try to create conditions in the garden that attract dragonflies, which are also useful against mosquitoes.
Whiteflies are resistant to chemical insecticides, therefore, applying them, you will destroy only useful insects, including natural predators and pollinators for the garden.
Install yellow plastic cards or wooden plates covered with petroleum jelly, around tomatoes, peppers, sweet potatoes and cabbage. A mixture of petroleum jelly and a dishwashing liquid in the proportion of 50/50 will be sufficiently sticky to deter flies. For whiteflies, the yellow color looks like a mass of fresh foliage. The insects get stuck in the jelly and die.
Whitefly is a very hardy and bothersome insect, so the timely use of protective equipment plays a decisive role in combating it. Do not let the population grow, and you can easily destroy pests. If the moment is missed, then the advice in this article will definitely help you.
Methods of combating whitefly and other pests – video