Whiteflies are small, flying insects that feed on the leaves of garden plants. Whiteflies may be as small as 1/12 inch long and may be very difficult to see with the naked eye. Look for the insects on the undersides of leaves during the day, when they are most active. Whiteflies may survive the winter and large infestations of them will severely damage plants. Use a home remedy to kill whiteflies.
Whiteflies suck the juices and nutrients out of plant foliage. As they feed, the flies leave honeydew behind, a sticky secretion that fosters the growth of fungi. Because of this honeydew substance, whiteflies may cause considerable damage to gardens if left unchecked. Plants being affected by whiteflies may have yellowing leaves and stunted growth. Whitefly damage is evident in the eggs they leave on the undersides of leaves and the sticky honeydew they create, which can be felt with your fingers if you gently rub the leaves.
Make a homemade insecticide to treat whiteflies on plants. Mix 1 tbsp. of liquid soap into a mixture of 2 parts rubbing alcohol and 5 parts water. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and apply it to the leaves of plants to both kill and prevent whiteflies. Mix 2 tbsp. of crushed red pepper and 6 drops of liquid dish soap into 1 gallon of water to create a hot, insect-repelling spray. Allow the homemade insecticide to soak for one day before spraying it on plants.
Ladybugs are the natural enemy of whiteflies. Ladybugs are colorful, beneficial insects that are visually appealing in the garden and with no encouragement they'll kill whiteflies for you. Attract them to the garden by planting fennel, cilantro, dill, tansey, yarrow and wild carrot. Ladybugs enjoy most plants with long, funnel-shaped flowers.
Make a homemade mulch that repels whiteflies. Cut up pieces of aluminum foil or spray-paint pieces of plastic mulch silver to resemble foil. The bright, reflective silver keeps whiteflies away. The mulch serves a dual purpose in repelling weeds as well as whiteflies.
- The Old Farmer's Almanac: Whiteflies
- Monroe County Extension: Home Remedies for Insect and Disease Contol on Plants
- University of California Extension; Whiteflies; M. L. Flint
- Old Fashioned Living; Luring Ladybugs Into Your Garden; Arzeena Hamir
- OSU Extension; Using Home Remedies to Control Garden Pests; S.I. Rondon, et al.; 2006
- University of Missouri Extension; Managing Whiteflies on Indoor and Outdoor Plants; Bruce A. Barrett
K. C. Morgan is a professional freelance writer, with articles and blog posts appearing on dozens of sites. During her years of writing professionally, K. C. has covered a wide range of topics. She has interviewed experts in several fields, including celebrated psychoanalyst Frances Cohen Praver, PhD; television personality and psychotherapist Dr. Robi Ludwig; and entrepreneur Todd Reed.