The new spring season and the rise in temperature is always a good feeling after a cold winter. The new foliage is also a nice change of scenery after a season without color and plants. Even though these changes are nice, this also means an attraction and the movement of some major pests including Whiteflies. Whiteflies are closely related to aphids and mealy bugs, which all destroy plants by sucking out the sap from the underside of the leaves. Due to their keen adaptation against pesticides, they are considered one of the hardest agricultural pests to get rid of.

Life Cycle and Physical Recognition

Whiteflies will undergo an incomplete metamorphosis. They normally lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves and within about a week, the eggs will hatch. Adult female whiteflies can lay about 200-400 eggs in her lifetime. Nymphs will emerge from the eggs and stay on the plant and feed even before they are matured into full grown adults. With their first molt, the whitefly nymph will lose its legs and antennae and will latch onto the underside of the leaf. As they feed they will begin to grow appendages from their bodies giving them a scaly appearance. They are barely visible even with the aid of a lens. After about four weeks of feeding, they will emerge from their last nymphal stage. Adults will feed and live for about only one month and within any population of whiteflies, all stages are present and generations are capable of overlapping.

Adult whiteflies are about 1.5 mm long and just like their name states, they are white winged insects with cream colored bodies. They look most like moths in their adult stage. A single whitefly may be hard to sight, however, when the plant that they are feeding on is disturbed, they will fly in clusters. Their white color makes them easily distinguishable from other agricultural pests.

Food & Damage

All stages of the whitefly will feed by sucking on the sap from leaves. Generally, plant losses will not occur, that is unless there is a huge population of white fly nymphs. Damage to the plants come from their honeydew excretion as they feed. Honeydew will allow for a growth of black sooty mold on the plants. Because so many nutrients are taken out of the plants when whiteflies feed, leaves will often change colors are appear yellow or dried out. Also, the plants are weakened and they will not be able to grow properly. In large groups, this can result in a serious loss of vegetable crops. Also, whiteflies are known to transmit some serious viruses to plants and also crops. Fruit trees are not normally disturbed by most species, except for the citrus whitefly, however, several different species will attack ornamental plants.

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Date: Friday, 11. February 2011 14:19
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