How to - Pests & Diseases

How to win the war on whitefly

Hilary Haupt

A few tips and tricks to help you beat this exasperatingly destructive indoor plant pest

Getting rid of whiteflies

Trap whiteflies with special tape

Richter also swears by yellow sticky traps. "To help with early detection, we use yellow sticky traps throughout our greenhouses. Whiteflies are attracted to the colour yellow which is why these traps work so well," he says. Check the traps regularly for signs of whitefly and other pests. If you happen to catch a critter, maintain your traps by wiping them clean. They will eventually lose their tackiness, so make sure to recoat them with Tanglefoot or even Vaseline.

Spray plants with special soap

If whiteflies are detected, use insecticidal soap on the affected plant every three to four days. Spot-check the soap first to ensure that it doesn't burn the leaves. "One application is never 100 per cent effective, so we apply repeat treatments," says Richter. "It is important for home gardeners to realize that insecticidal soap only works if it comes in direct contact with insects, and so it is essential to make sure to spray all of the undersides of the leaves," he emphasizes.

While my plants survived, I never was able to completely eradicate my whitefly infestation. Although I tried sticky traps, coated the leaves of my plants in Neem oil and eventually treated them with repeat—but inconsistent—sprays of insecticidal soap, the battle raged on. The truth is, I discovered and treated them much too late. Aside from painting my entire apartment yellow and coating the walls with glue, nothing would have been as effective as isolation and early detection. With these tips in my arsenal, this year I'll be ready!


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