Whiteflies in Florida: What Are They & How Do I Get Rid of Them?

Technician Checking Shrubs

What are Whiteflies?

Whiteflies are actually not flies at all but rather are more closely related to aphids, mealybugs, and scales. They feed by sucking sap from plants. Whiteflies gather on the underside of leaves and are most active during the daytime in warming temperatures. A heavily infested plant or bush will produce a cloud of white winged adult flies when disturbed.

Why are Whiteflies a Problem in South Florida?

Whiteflies are rapid reproducers, especially in warm weather like South Florida. Each fly can lay up to 400 miniscule white eggs in a circular pattern on the underside of leaves. A population explosion can take place quickly, especially when natural enemies are ineffective. This can be quite a nuisance in your home.

Many whiteflies breed all year long in warmer climates. As the whitefly eggs mature, they will turn a dark color. It generally takes only 1-4 weeks for these eggs to hatch. When the eggs hatch, young whiteflies will gradually increase in size through four nymph stages, or instar. Each stage has an increased development that leads to the adult in stage four. 

Do Whiteflies Eat Indoor Plants?

During each instar, feeding is accomplished by sucking plant juice from the leaves of the plant. This feeding process is with the use of needle-like mouth parts piercing the leaf and sucking sap. A large number of whiteflies will cause the leaves to turn yellow, dry out, and even fall off the plant. A sticky, black sooty mold grows on the excrement or honeydew from the whiteflies. This attracts ants which causes additional problems, especially if they’re located on indoor plants. 

How Do I Find and Identify Whiteflies?

It is important to regularly inspect the plants in your landscape to make sure they are healthy and free of any insect activity. Examine your plants both indoors and outdoors. Pay special attention to the underside of the leaves, looking for white specs or a fine white powdery looking substance. Look very closely as most stages of development are overlooked due to the tiny size and almost translucent color. 

Spiders are not a bad thing to find on your plants. Most spiders and ladybugs are natural predators of the whitefly and will help control your whitefly population. If you think your spiders are out of control after inspecting whiteflies, learn more about spider control in South Florida.

What are Signs of Whitefly Damage?

Of all of the pests that can invade your garden, whiteflies are among the worst. These tiny soft-bodied white flies are very easy to miss when they first appear. It is not usually until they have reached epidemic proportions that you notice them; and then it is usually the damage you see rather than the insect itself. 

Signs of damage from a whitefly infestation in South Florida include: 

  • Dry, brittle leaves that turn yellow and then die.
  • Plants that are not growing or thriving.
  • Sticky residue on the leaves of plants – this residue that they leave behind can also lead to a fungal infection in your plants. 

If you notice these symptoms in your garden be sure to check the underside of leaves carefully for these tiny bugs or their eggs.

How Did I Get Whiteflies in the First Place?

These creatures are typically introduced into gardens on plants that you purchase that have been infested or simply from spreading out after infesting a garden in the neighborhood. They are equal opportunity infesters and will invade houseplants as well as garden varieties. One thing is for certain – no matter how these pests arrived in your garden, you cannot waste any time getting rid of them. They can ruin your plants in no time at all.

How Do I Get Rid of Whiteflies?

In the event of a plant being found heavily infested with these whiteflies, the best remedy is to remove the plant. Don’t invest in any new plants until the infestation has been corrected. Large numbers of whiteflies can be a real nuisance and difficult to eradicate. Early detection is the key to reducing any significant damage.

There are a few things you can do to try and avoid or combat whiteflies on your own. Keep in mind, though, that these tips will typically help to a small degree and are not usually successful at eradicating these pests. To completely eradicate whiteflies and keep them away you will need to partner with an experienced pest control company like Hoffer Pest Solutions.

Tips to get rid of whiteflies in South Florida:

  • Inspect all plants thoroughly for signs of whitefly infestation before purchasing.
  • Remove any infected plants from your garden and keep them away from other plants while you treat them.
  • Do not place new plants near recently infected areas
  • Plant in early spring or late fall in order to avoid high-infestation periods.
  • Purchase whitefly traps from your local hardware or department store to assist in deterring these pests from choosing your home or garden for their new habitat
  • Introduce natural predators to your yard such as: pirate bugs, green lacewings, whitefly predators, big-eyed bugs, ladybugs and spiders.
  • Call a professional pest control company to inspect and treat your garden at 

Here at Hoffer Pest Solutions we have a team of highly trained and experienced pest control and lawn care specialists that can identify and properly treat your pest invasion issues. If you want to avoid whiteflies, or if you already are dealing with the endless battle with them, call us today at (954) 590-0477.