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Whiteflies – The New Invader of Florida Lawns and Landscapes
Trust our lawn care professionals to keep whiteflies and other pests under control
Whiteflies are the latest invasive pest damaging Florida landscapes.They are among the worst, most intractable of all garden pests and have long been considered a major detriment of ornamental crops. The most frequently attacked plants include allamanda, avocado, chinaberry, citrus, fig, fringe tree, gardenia, gumbo limbo, ligustrum, mango, various palms, persimmon, vibumum and many annuals.
Whiteflies are among the many pests that are part of living in a subtropical climate. They have the chance to thrive in Florida due to our mild climate and lack of cold winters. There are over 75 Whitefly species in Florida with at least four species of particular concern in this area: Ficus, Rugose Spiraling, Bondar’s Nesting and Silver leaf. Whiteflies are drawing significant concern because they may have a severe impact on certain landscape plants. However, if the proper management steps are taken, a healthy landscape can be achieved with the aid of cultural, pesticide and biological strategies.
Common pests on many ornamental plants
The adult whiteflies are related to scale insects and look like tiny white moths. The insects are about 1/16 of an inch in length and only the adults have wings and can fly. They have an average life cycle ranging from 21 to 30 days and longer during cooler weather months. Each female can deposit fifty eggs in cooler weather and over four hundred in tropic climates. Consequently, this results in high populations of the pesky critter here in Florida. Adults lay their eggs on the underside of leaves, which are flat with an oval outline. Young whiteflies, nymphs, are smaller than a pinhead. Their colors vary depending on the species. Some eggs are whitish to beige while others are blackish in the center with a white waxy fringe around the edge.
Whiteflies feed exclusively on leaves, always occurring on the undersurface. The bugs feed on the plant phloem by injecting enzymes, removing the sap, which weakens the plants. The infestation may go undetected until the homeowners notice the plant leaves turning yellow or dropping unexpectedly. Whiteflies additionally excrete dew like substances called honeydew and a black fungus called sooty mold, which is unsightly and grows on top of the honeydew. The mold and dew drastically reduce the plant growth and can attract ants. Whiteflies are not a new phenomenon but do seem to be an ever-increasing problem for your landscape investments.
Whitefly management methods
There are several potential methods for Whitefly control. A plant that has been treated with a systemic insecticide can still carry eggs previously deposited on plants. Whiteflies will be controlled once they hatch and the nymphs emerge and begin to feed. It is imperative to monitor whitefly population by trapping the adults and inspect leaves for the presence of feeding nymphs. Proper identification of the species will prove prudent in developing the proper management program.
You must monitor your plants for early signs of an infestation before populations become unmanageable and the damage is excessive. It is necessary to consider the site, size and number of trees and surrounding area before taking steps to control these insects.
The newly hatched nymphs and adults are susceptible to chemicals. They tend to adapt and become very resistant to the ever-changing chemical insecticides used to control the populations. Other options include general insecticides, aerosols, soaps or oils.There are several biological agents available to treat Whiteflies. Check with suppliers regarding the environmental compatibility such as temperature and humidity. Chemical and biological agents should be used in conjunction for optimal results.
At Keepers of the Green, we don’t just maintain your landscape, we nurture it
Caring for a lawn takes more than just showing up. We care! We treat your lawn like we have adopted it and we share in the joy when you get noticed as having the best lawn in the neighborhood. If you are struggling with sod webworms, chinch bugs, mole crickets or other lawn pests, we can help. Contact Keepers of the Green for a fast, free quote and comprehensive lawn evaluation and analysis at 813-245-3432, or contact us online.