White Fly Control
Whiteflies are winged insects that look more like a small white moth than a white fly. They have a needle-like mouth, similar to scale insects or mealy-bugs. Whiteflies damage plants by piercing the leaf surface and sucking out nutrients from the plant. This causes yellowing and stunting of leaves and will eventually lead to leaf drop and possible death of the tree or plant. There are currently over seventy-five different species of whitefly in Florida, however, the two most troublesome in Florida landscapes are the ficus whitefly and the rugose spiraling whitefly.
The ficus whitefly was first discovered in the continental United States around 2006. The insect spread quickly throughout Southeast Florida and has been causing extensive damage to ficus and other fig species ever since. The life cycle of the ficus whitefly is approximately one month. Eggs are laid on the under-sides of the leaves and hatch into a crawler and then become a nymph, which begins the feeding process with its needle-mouth. After two to three weeks the nymph emerges as an adult with wings and usually dies within five to seven days.
Defoliation of the ficus plants is the most obvious symptom of an infestation of ficus whitefly, however by the time defoliation occurs, the plant has already been suffering through several generations of the insect. Since the earlier stages of the infestation are difficult to see, it is recommended to monitor your ficus plants for signs of nymphs in order get the best results from a treatment program by treating the problem before heavy populations become established.
If you are in an area with an infestation of whitefly, it is recommended that you consider an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program designed to safely utilize insect control products to minimize damage to your ficus plants and trees.
Rugose Spiraling Whitefly
The rugose spiraling whitefly is also relatively new to South Florida, first being discovered on gumbo limbo trees in early 2009. This is not the same whitefly as the ficus whitefly and is not yet known to cause death of its hosts. Unfortunately though, this species of whitefly attacks a much wider variety of host plants, including, many species of palms (especially coconut palms), gumbo limbo trees, callophyllum trees, and black olives trees, to name a few.
The rugose spiraling whitefly is three times larger than most other whiteflies. The adults congregate on the undersides of leaves where they lay their eggs in a spiraling pattern, hence their name. Like other whiteflies, the rugose spiraling whitefly sucks nutrients out of their host-plants, however, they produce a much larger amount of honeydew excrement which coats the leaves and drips off the trees and plants onto surfaces beneath them. This leads to a build-up of black sooty-mold which can be damaging to patios, pools, docks, decks, lawn furniture, boats, cars, etc. The damage to trees and plants can also be extensive, causing plant decline, defoliation, and branch die-back.
Service Choice Whitefly Treatment Programs
Working together with the University of Florida IFAS and the Broward and Palm Beach County Extension Agencies, Service Choice has been among the pioneering companies in developing treatment programs for ficus whitefly and rugose spiraling whitefly. Our program includes root drenches, basil trunk treatments or direct trunk injections using high quality systemic insecticides. In certain cases we would supplement these treatments with foliar sprays. However, we understand the value of protecting beneficial insects which help eradicate whiteflies naturally.
Please contact our office to speak with a Certified Technician who can explain our whitefly treatment programs in more detail and schedule a free inspection and estimate of your property.