Whiteflies are tiny, sap-sucking insects that are frequently abundant in vegetable and ornamental plantings. Their sucking activities can make leaves turn yellow or die, and they excrete sticky honeydew, which can cover leaves with black sooty mold
. The honeydew attracts ants, which interfere with the activities of natural enemies that may control whiteflies and other pests. Whiteflies develop rapidly in warm weather, and populations can build up quickly in situations where natural enemies are destroyed and weather is favorable. Most whiteflies have a wide range of hosts, which includes many weeds and crops. In many parts of California, they breed all year, moving from one host to another as plants are harvested or dry up.
Whiteflies are a garden pest, and infestations are difficult to control. The best strategy is to remove any plants that are whitefly magnets, and then rely on natural predators (e.g., lacewings, lady beetles, etc.) to control the whitefly population. If ants – which chase off the whiteflies’ natural predators so they can harvest honeydew – are present, you can wrap sticky material (e.g., Tanglefoot) around tree trunks to keep the ants away; ant baits also help. Your Clark Pest Control technician will know how to evaluate your whitefly problem, and will know precisely how to handle it for you in the most effective way possible.
Latin name: Aleyrodidae, many genera and species