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Despite their names, whiteflies aren't True Flies but a type of True Bug (Order: Hemiptera). Within the order, you'll also find Scale insects and Aphids because they're closely related, and demonstrate some similarities in their behaviour and ecology. This species is commonly termed a 'blackfly' due to the steel-blue colouring of the wings. It's specialised its feeding on Citrus, although, can still be successful using 300 other species of plant as the primary food plant.
These insects are one of the worst pests in gardens, greenhouses and agriculture.
Whiteflies possess many natural enemies to help us keep them under control!
Adults: These insects are tiny; their wingspans measure just under 8mm. They look like flies or aphids, the wings are tinted grey with some faded white wing patterning. The legs are white too, accompanied by red eyes, head and thorax. Nymphs: Often smaller, wingless, and golden-brown in colour. Pupae: Show similarities to scale insects, which look like flat black discs stuck underneath leaves. Like a scale, they can't move. They sometimes have a collar of white wax encircling them, too. Eggs: The eggs are yellow and laid in a distinctive spiral, beneath the foliage. The eggs are golden brown and then eventually turn grey or black.
Together with aphids, whiteflies can transmit viral diseases to plants. Their feeding causes stunted growth, as well as curling leaves. Honeydew may be found on the upper surfaces of leaves. Honeydew can result in secondary infections in the form of black mould. Ants are attracted to Honeydew and can sometimes make an infestation worse.
Whitefly infestations tend to be more problematic indoors, for example, in a glasshouse setting. Planting rhubarb in greenhouses is thought to deter whitefly. Whitefly lay their eggs underneath the leaves of plants, so these areas should be inspected regularly. Any spacing between plants should be kept clear of weeds and debris. The use of netting can sometimes improve protection with garden plants. For lighter infestations, plants can be gently hosed down to remove whitefly and eggs. Ant traps placed near affected plants will aid controlling any secondary infestations. Whiteflies are drawn to the colour yellow. You can use yellow cards or sticky traps to attract whitefly and monitor the infestation level. Insecticidal soaps and neem oil can give some control over whitefly, and it's less harmful to the environment when compared with pesticides. Bottle labels should be read carefully. Oils can react badly with high temperatures and burn the surfaces of plants. Beneficial garden creatures such as beetles, wasps, lacewings and spiders will eat whiteflies. These can be attracted into the garden using a few simple tricks, such as incorporating insect hotels or by letting parts of the garden grow a little wild.
This insect is most commonly found on Citrus plants, yet, has been known to infest other plants too.