Currently viewing the category: "Whiteflies"

Strange “Webs”
June 14, 2010
Mr. Marlos, as the foremost bug expert in Los Angeles, can you tell me what insect (or arachnid, though I doubt it) makes these strange white drippy “webs?” This is a close-up of the ivy on my back fence. A couple seasons ago it was literally covered in them. I’m stumped.
Best Regards,
Mr. Kulkis

Giant Whitefly

Dear Mr. Kulkis,
How nice to hear from you.  Alas, you have Giant Whitefly, Aleurodicus dugesii, a freeliving Hemipteran that is native to Mexico, but since 1992, it have become established in California, Arizona, Florida and Texas.  Immature Nymphs produce waxy filaments as long as two inches that resemble cotton candy according to BugGuide.  We strongly recommend removing them with the strong jet from a hose.  Diligence with your hose will ensure that they will not become established as they can quickly infest many plants in the yard.

Thank you very much for the sage advice Mr. Marlos. And wow, congrats on the book! Penguin no less, that’s big time. Send me a link when it’s available for pre-sale on Amazon and I’ll support the cause.
Mr. K

White webby moths
These pictures are of a colony of some tiny moths that have set up residence on my Hibiscus plant in Oceanside California. They dont seem to be eating the leaves, just stringing out large quantities of spiderweb like strands on the underside and laying their eggs in it. I’ve searched the internet endlessly and cant find them anywhere.

Hi Brad,
These are not moths. You have a Giant Whitefly infestation, Aleurodicus dugesii, an invasive species from Mexico. We ware linking to the University of California Integrated Statewide Pest Management Program website for more information. According to the site, you can: “Manage giant whiteflies in your landscape with an integrated program that includes removal of infested leaves and, if necessary, washing whiteflies off leaves with water. When choosing plants, consider species less susceptible to giant whitefly. iological
control agents are presently being introduced and have become established in parts of southern California. Check with your University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor about the status of the biological control program in your area. Insecticides are not generally recommended because they destroy the biological control agents. A forceful stream of water (syringing) directed at colonies can be just as effective as insecticide sprays.” Personally, we would use the strong water spray combined with leaf removal before the insecticide.

I thought you guys might like a photo of a whitefly you did not seem to have one. Also the link to your snakeflies page is busted. This whitefly shot was taken at the Owens Rose Garden in Eugene Oregon. Great Site.
Pat Griffin

Nice Macro Photo Pat,
We have fixed the link problem. Thanks for your vigilence.

We realized we didn’t have a decent image of Whiteflies on our site, so we took advantage of the infestation on the hibiscus plants at LACC. Earlier in the week, a flock of Bushtits, Psaltriparus minimus, excitedly flitted in the shrubbery, twittering and snapping up the adult whiteflies that rose from the heavily filimented undersides of the leaves. The infestation is one of the worst we have seen, covering nearly every leaf on the shrubs.

I am growing an assortment of vegetables as well as tomatoes in pots on my screened in porch here in Florida. My tomatoes, although protected from the larger menaces due to the screen, have fallen victim to these very small white flying pests. Due to their size they are very difficult to describe other than the fact that they are extremely small, bright white and seem to live inside the flowers on the tomato plants. When I touch the Q-tip to the flower about four or five of these small flying insects come flying out. Is there anything you recommend for me to get rid of these nuisances, and will these little rascals prevent the plant from producing tomatoes? I have been using a Q-tip to cross pollinate. Out of the 12 plants I have only 2 tomatoes. Thank you,

Dear Terrence,
It sounds like you have whiteflies. They can become a real infestation. They like shelter, preferring to stay out of the wind. Usually you can rid the plants of the buggers by a brisk spray of water from the hose. Strike quickly before you have a real problem. They should not prevent pollination which is more dependant upon warm nightime temperatures.

Great!! Thank you for the advice. I will give that a shot.
I hate to bother you with more questions, but I have seen a couple articles on the internet about using a mixture of Canola oil and water to keep the bugs off the plants. Is this a good idea for me to try, or will it harm my plants. Ground clove was recommended as well. Thanks again!!!
Dear Terrence,
I’ve not tried the canola oil and water, but have heard it works. Sometimes I put a drop of mild dishsoap in water and spritz out of a bottle. This is good for aphids and all sucking insects including whiteflies. The soap helps to drown them. The canola oil probably does the same thing. Be careful not to use too much soap or oil as it might damage the plants worse than the insects. Also, try not to spray the plants in the hot sun which might cause burning of the tender shoots, and also in the evening which might encourage mildew. Morning is best. Ground cloves would get expensive and would not help with the sucking insects. Might be an ant deterrent

Dear What’s the Bug?

Even though I’m not a homebody, I am concerned about some bugs invading my home. There are some pesky critters flying in, on and around my hibiscus bush in the front yard. These tiny flying pests have covered the leaves and pink flowers so that the whole bush appears to be spray-painted white. To make matters worse, these insects are now stuck in my window screen because the humid weather compels me to leave my fan on all day and night. As a result, I will have to remove my screens and hose them off, allowing these white, yucky bugs into my home. What are they?


Nechelle Wong,
Highland Park, CA

Dear Nechelle,

Based on your vivid description, I have no doubts that you and your hibiscus are being plagued by whiteflies. These miniscule insects belong to the order Homoptera, which is sometimes grouped together with the order Heteroptera, the true bugs, into an order called Hemiptera, because the insects in the two groups share similar sucking mouthparts and undergo incomplete metamorphosis. Hogue writes in his now legendary book, Insects of the Los Angeles Basin, “Virtually all homopterans have wax-producing glands in the integument, and many excrete honeydew, a sugary sticky solution that may attract symbiotic associates (especially ants). A great number are plant pests because of their great fecundity and ability to bleed their hosts of life-giving sap. Some also injure plants by transmitting pathogenic organisms, especially viruses.” There are several species of whiteflies found locally, and they are difficult to distinguish from one another. They all belong to the family Aleyrodidae, and are approximately 1/16 inch long and frequently infest ornamental plants. When disturbed, the adults fly from their perches, usually the undersides of leaves, in a flaky cloud. The flightless nymphs so most of the damage, sucking sap from plants in a manner similar to their relatives, the aphids, scale insects and mealybugs. They can be difficult to eradicate, though I rid my fuschias of them several years ago by diligently spraying the leaves with a mild solution of dish soap in water. The slick surface imparted on the water by the soap causes the insects to drown.