Pests in Gardens and Landscapes: Quick Tips
Whiteflies are tiny, sap-sucking insects that damage leaves of many plants. Adults are white and sometimes have darker markings on their wings. Nymphs, which cause most of the damage, are oval, legless, and don't move. Many species occur in California landscapes, and natural enemies keep most under good control. Prevent whitefly problems by using reflective mulches, avoiding dust, choosing less susceptible plants, and eliminating pesticides that kill whitefly natural enemies. When management is required, consider using insecticidal soaps and sticky traps or removing infested plants.
Signs of a whitefly infestation can include:
Protect natural enemies such as lacewings, lady beetles, and mini-wasps.
Install a reflective mulch in your vegetable garden to protect young plants.
Use hand removal and traps to reduce whiteflies.
Even the most toxic insecticides are only partially effective. If you decide to treat, choose products that are least harmful to natural enemies—such as insecticidal soaps and oils including neem oil—and combine their use with the other practices listed above. Good coverage, including the underside of leaves, is essential. Repeat applications might be required. Avoid using even these pesticides if many natural enemies are present.
Minimize the use of pesticides that pollute our waterways. Use nonchemical alternatives or less toxic pesticide products whenever possible. Read product labels carefully and follow instructions on proper use, storage, and disposal.