Whitefly Description:

Although they look like miniature white moths, whiteflies are neither moths nor flies. Instead, they are insects of varying species in the order of Homoptera, which also includes aphids, scales and mealybugs. Whiteflies seemingly “show up out of nowhere,” often when greenhouse plants and nursery stock are planted. Whiteflies have yellow or orange bodies with a waxy coating that makes them appear white.


Whiteflies attack a variety of plants including these preferred species: Azalea, Citrus, Fuschia, Gardenia, Hibiscus, Honeylocust, Redbud, Rose and Viburnum.

Biology & Symptoms:

After mating, females lay 50-150 cigar-shaped eggs, which are attached to the underside of the leaf with a peg-like structure. When hatched, they become crawlers, dispersing over the lower leaf surface and inserting their needle-like mouth into plant leaves to uptake the nutrients. After first molt, whiteflies lose their legs and antennae to become scale-like nymphs. After molting two more times, the nymphs reach pseudopupal stage, finally emerging as an adult. The lifecycle of whiteflies from egg-to-adult is 4-6 weeks with many overlapping generations, especially in warmer climates.

Infestation symptoms include: mottling on lower leaves, yellow spots on upper leaves, curling or malformation on new leaves, premature defoliation and withering twigs. When heavily infested, shaken branches usually result in a cloud of adult whiteflies that looks somewhat like snow escaping from a snow globe. As they feed, whiteflies produce a sticky residue called honeydew, which can lead to the growth of a black fungus called sooty mold.


To monitor infestations, use yellow sticky traps. Most whiteflies are kept in check, thanks to natural enemies like parasitic wasps, predatory insects and insect-pathogenic fungi. While horticultural oils do nothing to control adult whiteflies, they can help minimize eggs and immature populations. To control established adult populations, use residual and/or systemic controls.

See More Articles

Pest And Disease Center Vascular Wilt Disease Banner 1440X500
Mold or Fungus

Vascular Wilt Diseases

Vascular wilt diseases are caused by different fungi that attack the vascular (water-conducting) system of trees. A tree responds by blocking its vascular system to contain the disease. In doing so, the water supply to the leaves is cut off.
Read More
Pest And Disease Chlorosis Banner 1440X500
Leaf or Needle Discoloration


Chlorosis is the result of a lack of chlorophyll production that may be caused by many conditions such as another disease, soil/water pH or nutritional imbalance, or tree wounds.
Read More
DSC 8019
DSC 8019

Get In Touch With Us!

We pride ourselves at Davey Tree on providing prompt, professional and personalized service from certified arborists that live, work and engage in your community. Contact one of our Davey Tree specialists for your residential needs.

Let's Find What
You're Looking For!