Spiral Whitefly

Posted by: Daniel R. Shulman, RLA on Friday, March 1, 2013 at 8:00:00 am

While whitefly has been around for years in Florida, Spiraling whitefly is a fairly new pest to our state.  In March, 2009, a whitefly (Aleurodicus rugioperculatus ), was collected in Miami-Dade County from gumbo limbo. This was the first report of this insect on the U.S. continent and it is believed to originate from Central America.
These pests were given their name because of the spiral pattern in which they lay their eggs.  This pest has gained a lot of attention as they attack mature trees and ornamentals.  Affected plants become quickly infested and soon turn from their natural green to a silver white where the leaf surface is completely obscured by the insect and the wax like substance that they produce. While some insects may only attack one or two species of plants, this pest is less discriminate and has been found on over 100 species in Florida.

Whiteflies feed by tapping into the part of the plant that is primarily concerned with the transport of fuel, nutrients and sugar..  When whitefly attaches to a plant it will inject toxic saliva which disrupts the structures that are the roadways for the transport of these nutrients.  Whiteflies congregate in large numbers, therefore susceptible plants can be quickly overwhelmed.

Whitefly is difficult and complex to control as whiteflies rapidly gain resistance to chemical pesticides.  Because whitefly species have a short life cycle (approximately 20 days from egg to adulthood), and adult females lay eggs as soon as they emerge, consistent use of the same pesticides will likely produce generations with resistance to specific chemicals.  It is recommended to rotate the type of pesticide used to control this pest to avoid creating super bugs.
While it is typical to use neonicotinoids such as clothiadin, imidocloprid or thiamexthaxam, these products are typically available to only licensed commercial applicators.  Other types of chemicals are available and can be used.  It is important to follow the label of any pesticide that you plan to use.  Take the time to read the instructions that are supplied with every product.  If you think that you may have this pest on your property, and live in the Sarasota area, please call us for a courtesy inspection. If you are out of our area contact your local professional Pest control company.