Pests On Ornamentals And Vegetables: Whitefly Treatment In The Garden

Whitefly Insects On Plants In The Garden
(Image credit: Utkarsh Patil)

In terms of garden pests, whiteflies are one of the most bothersome gardeners can have in their gardens. Whether they're on ornamentals or vegetables, whitefly control can be tricky and difficult. Controlling whiteflies in the garden is not impossible. Let's take a look at the answer to the question, “How do you get rid of whiteflies?”

Identifying the Garden Pests Whiteflies

Whiteflies are part of a group of sap sucking insects that can cause problems in the garden. Other sap sucking insects include aphids, scale, and mealybugs. The effects of these insects, including whiteflies, are nearly all the same. The signs that you may have whiteflies or one of its cousins are a sticky film on the leaves, yellow leaves, and stunted growth. The way to determine if you specifically have whiteflies is to inspect the insects you find on the plant. Typically, the insects can be found on the undersides of the leaves. The garden pests whiteflies look just like their name. They will look like a tiny whitefly or moth. There will be several in one area.

Controlling Whiteflies in the Garden

Normally whiteflies become a problem when their natural predators, such as ladybugs, are not present in the area. This can happen for many reasons, ranging from pesticide use to bad weather. Controlling whiteflies in the garden becomes difficult without help from their natural predators. Therefore, making sure that the area is good for their predators is important. Whitefly predators include:

Using these beneficial insects are the best way to kill whiteflies. You can also try spraying the affected plant with a lightly pressurized stream of water. This will knock the insects off the plant and will reduce, but not eliminate, their numbers. Also, for ornamentals and vegetables, whitefly problems and damage can be reduced if the plants are kept as healthy as possible, which means that you need to regularly feed and water the plants. You can also try controlling whiteflies in the garden by using reflective surfaces, like foil or discarded CDs, around the plants. This can have a repelling effect on the whiteflies and may keep them off the plant. Alternately, you can try sticky tape, which will help to eliminate the current population of whiteflies on your plants and prevent them from laying more eggs. Do not use insecticides as a way to kill whiteflies. They are resistant to most insecticides and you will only make the problem worse by killing their natural enemies. That being said, neem oil can be effective against these pests and is generally deemed safe for beneficials.

Heather Rhoades
Founder of Gardening Know How

Heather Rhoades founded Gardening Know How in 2007. She holds degrees from Cleveland State University and Northern Kentucky University. She is an avid gardener with a passion for community, and is a recipient of the Master Gardeners of Ohio Lifetime Achievement Award.