Whiteflies are very small bugs that are not actually in the Fly family. They are considered true bugs, and their life cycle is unique. After hatching, a nymph that is barely visible walks along a leaf until it finds a suitable place to spend the next few weeks. It settles down, loses its legs and continues to molt. In this stationary form, it looks more like scale: round, eyeless, and immobile. During this stage, it feeds on the plant’s juices until it pupates into a winged adult. The Whitefly is a rapid reproducer, so large numbers of them can injure plant vigor and health. It secretes a sticky, sweet substance called honeydew that can become black with mildew over time, ruining the appearance of ornamental plants. It can also transmit plant viruses, so it is considered a pest to commercial growers as well as home gardeners. They are so small, that a hand lens may be needed to clearly see what it is when examining leaves.
One species is found in hothouses and are called Greenhouse Whiteflies. Another species, the Silverleaf Whitefly, molts out of its exoskeleton, leaving behind a silvery shell of its former self. All Whiteflies are unable to survive cold temperatures. Sticky cards are often hung in greenhouses to attract and capture adult Whiteflies, preventing them from harming plants. Certain small wasps and beetles are natural controls. Finding a Whitefly on a plant should inspire a thorough inspection of leaves.
General Characteristics Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns.