Whiteflies Surprisingly Returning To South Florida Post-Summer

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Our South Florida Truly Nolen service offices have seen a recent uptick in calls for whiteflies, which is surprising because this pest is normally only a summer issue for homeowners.

Whiteflies get their name from a white, waxy substance that covers the wings and bodies of adult flies. The adult whitefly is very small – less than 1/16” long – and resembles a tiny moth. There are more than 75 types of whiteflies in Florida. Whiteflies can seriously damage host plants. The flies lay their eggs on the undersides of leaves, where the eggs hatch. Whiteflies feed by sucking the sap from leaves with their needle-like mouths.

Both whiteflies and their nymphs pose a threat to plant life, as all stages feed on plant juices. As the whitefly drains off the plant’s juices the leaves dry out, turn yellow, and eventually drop from the plant. Whiteflies congregate in such large numbers, they are able to effectively drain off the plant’s source of water and nutrients. This congregation quickly damages the host plant causing yellowing, stunted growth, wilting, leaf drop, and even plant death.

Because leaves play host to eggs and other life stages of the insects, it is important that you do not allow any damage trimmed from an infested plant to come in contact with other plants because this can spread the infestation.

The whitefly has a wide range of host plants, though different whitefly strains prefer certain plants over others. In all, over 500 plant species are affected by the whitefly. This list continues to grow as the whiteflies spread. Fruit and edible plants such as avocado, banana, citrus, mango, guava, plantain, squash, tomatoes, and others are typically affected. Several species of palm trees including King palm, coconut palm, sabal palm and other less common palms can also be affected.

Some of the affected ornamental plants include azaleas, bird of paradise, gumbo limbo, bird of paradise, black olive, bougainvillea, buttonwood, fig (ficus), live oak, mahogany, hibiscus, poinsettia, sea grapes, lantana, live oak, wax myrtle and many annuals.

Whiteflies cause visible landscape damage to trees, plants and shrubs. The most noticeable sign of a whitefly infestation are white spirals, combined with a build-up of white, waxy substance on bottom of the leaves. Often times, the build-up is so great that plants are actually covered and can lose all their leaves.  These stressed and weakened plants may fall victim to other insects and diseases at this point.

Whiteflies produce an extremely significant amount of “honeydew,” a sticky, sugary honeydew excretion which causes the growth of an ugly sooty mold – a black fungus that grows on the insect’s excrement.  This “honeydew” is the cause for many problems, as it sticks to vehicles, sidewalks and driveways, outdoor furniture, and homes. The substance causes damage to car paint and leaves a sticky mess. The honeydew also attracts ants that drive off the natural predators of whiteflies.

Be sure to check your plants daily for any sign of infestation. Check the undersides of leaves for whitefly eggs or larvae, as this is a good indicator of whitefly presence. If any evidence is found, take action immediately. The best course of action is to call a pest control professional that specializes in using a broad-spectrum insecticide that treats and removes whiteflies because these pests will not leave on their own. Truly Nolen treats whiteflies by using a deep root injector to the root of the tree every two months for a year.

If you need professional assistance with your whiteflies  problem, call Truly Nolen at 1-800-GO-TRULY to schedule a FREE home pest inspection.

Above content is provided by Truly Nolen.

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