Whitefly insecticide basics
What is whitefly insecticide?
Whitefly insecticides are products formulated to effectively kill whitefly (along with a wide range of other common garden pests). The active ingredient in whitefly pesticides varies from product to product and may be natural or chemical. Some can be applied as a foliar spray, while others are used as a soil drench. How often you need to use a whitefly insecticide and what types of plant it is suitable for will depend on the active ingredient and the application method.
When should you buy a whitefly insecticide?
Whiteflies are a common garden pest that is often found invading greenhouses, flowerbeds, veggie patches, and fruit trees. Their effects on plants are often devastating, but how can you be sure it’s them and not some other species of garden pest? If you suspect you have whitefly, look out for:
- Live flies. These are small, white and moth-like in appearance. They can be most easily spotted when they take flight, as they will take off in a cloud when an infested plant is disturbed.
- A sticky, yellow residue. This is honeydew; a shiny, sticky deposit that whitefly secretes in large quantities. This gathers on the surrounding foliage, where it causes a dark, sooty mold to develop.
- Yellowing disfigured leaves. Damage to leaves is caused by whitefly as they feed on the plant.
Once you’ve discovered whitefly on your plants, you should act immediately! These insects have a very fast reproduction rate and are notoriously tricky to get rid of. Start using a whitefly control insecticide straight away to prevent a large infestation from taking hold.
Who buys whitefly insecticides?
Whiteflies are prolific pests and are commonly found invading ornamental plants, greenhouses, fruit trees, vegetable patches, and flower beds. They are, therefore, a problem for every type of gardener! The best whitefly pesticides are easy to mix and use at home and have low toxicity in humans and other non-target species.
People with vegetable patches
If you need to treat your veggies, herbs or fruit trees, it is best to use a non-chemical whitefly insecticide. Formulations containing neem oil are highly effective when applied as a foliar spray, and will not harm the edibility of your plants.
People with large gardens
If you aren’t planning to eat what’s in your garden, you can afford to declare full chemical warfare on your whiteflies. Formulations that contain a systemic insecticide, such as imidacloprid, only need to be applied once a year and are a highly effective way to defend your plants from whitefly. This is also a great option for people with large gardens, as it saves you the hassle of heading out with a spray bottle every few weeks to tackle successive generations of whitefly.
How does whitefly insecticide work?
Whitefly insecticide works by killing whitefly, larvae, and eggs. It can be applied either as a foliar spray or as a soil drench, depending on what the active ingredient is. There is a wide range of whitefly pesticides available for domestic use, but which should you choose? Check out the active ingredient (which should be listed clearly on the label) to decide which is best for you.
Common active ingredients used in whitefly pesticides
- Whitefly chemical control products: systemic insecticides: A systemic insecticide is a chemical that is absorbed by the plant and distributed throughout the plant tissues. This effectively kills any insect that feeds on them. Unlike traditional pesticides, these cannot be washed off or removed by peeling the fruits/vegetables of that plant. They are, therefore, unsuitable for use on edible plants, and are best used for treating ornamental flowers, shrubs, and trees.
- Imidacloprid: Imidacloprid is one of the most effective systemic insecticides against whitefly. When applied as a soil drench, it can drastically reduce numbers of the insects and their larvae within a matter of weeks. It also provides lasting protection to your plants, and need only be applied once to keep these bugs at bay for a full year. It also has low levels of toxicity in mammalian species, making it relatively safe to use around your home.You should also avoid using it on flowering plants, or plants that are close to flowering, for the same reason.
However, it should not be used as a foliar spray, as this insecticide can have negative impacts on honeybees and natural predators, such as ladybugs.
- Acephate: Acephate can be used either as a systemic insecticide or applied as a foliar spray to effectively reduce whitefly numbers in your garden. However, as with imidacloprid, it is known to have negative effects on honeybees and other beneficial insect species when used as a spray. Unfortunately, this chemical also has a powerful odor and can give your garden a lingering smell of rotting eggs or cabbage. It is, therefore, not very popular for domestic use. It is also
- Diafenthiuron: Diafenthiuron is a relatively new insecticide that has been found to be highly effective for controlling whitefly. However, as with most other types of systemic pesticide, diafenthiuron is highly toxic to bees and should not be used as a foliar spray. It is also highly toxic to aquatic species and should not be used if there is any chance of it leaching into streams or ponds on or near your property.
Whitefly natural control products
If you need a whitefly insecticide but don’t want to use potentially harmful chemicals in your garden, products containing neem oil and extracts can be the perfect solution. These can be applied as a foliar spray to any plant in your garden. It must be eaten by insects for it to be effective and, as such, is completely non-toxic to bees and beneficial predators (such as bees and spiders). It’s also completely safe to use on edible plants, so it’s a great choice if you’re looking for a way to protect your fruits and veggies from whitefly.
Neem products are a fantastic, eco-friendly alternative to chemical insecticides; however, they are slightly less effective and may not completely eradicate a large whitefly infestation.
They must also be periodically re-applied to plants, which can be time-consuming if you have a large garden.
Use a whitefly insecticide instead of…
Whitefly insecticides can be an effective alternative to:
- Vacuuming: One way to remove whitefly from your plants is to use a small, hand-held vacuum cleaner. Simply suck the bugs straight off your plants to physically remove them! Although this method is completely natural and may be effective if you have a very small whitefly problem, it is unlikely to control a large infestation.
- Introducing a natural predator: Another organic method of removing whitefly from your plants is to unleash an army of natural predators. Ladybugs will attack and kill whitefly, so introducing them to your garden can help to control them. However, this is unlikely to completely eradicate the problem, and you may have trouble getting your hands on enough ladybugs – you’ll need a lot of them!
- Sticky pads: Sticky yellow pads can trap and kill whitefly. Placing these glue traps near infested plants can help to reduce whitefly numbers if you have a large population, but is unlikely to completely eradicate them. This is, however, an effective monitoring method.
- Reflective mulch: Reflective plastic mulches can help to reduce whitefly populations by making it harder for them to locate your plants. This can prevent them from laying eggs and stop infestations from taking hold. Unfortunately, if you already have whitefly, it won’t do anything to kill the existing population.
Monitor whitefly populations throughout treatment
Careful monitoring of your whitefly population is the best way to determine if your treatment is working effectively. Yellow sticky pads can be placed near infested plants to trap and kill whitefly living on them and can give you an idea of how many bugs are living nearby.
Whitefly insecticide buying guide
When choosing a whitefly insecticide, several factors can affect which option is best for you.
If you have a large garden…
If you have a lot of plants around your property, foliar sprays can be a time-consuming way of treating whitefly. Instead, opt for a systemic insecticide, such as the Adonis Pesticide Concentrate. This only needs to be applied once for annual protection and can be a big time saver for those with large gardens.
If you have a large whitefly infestation…
Imidacloprid is a highly effective whitefly killer and can be used to take down large infestations of the insects. Find an insecticide with imidacloprid as the active ingredient if you want to annihilate your whitefly as quickly and effectively as possible.
If you want to avoid using chemicals/you want to treat edible plants…
If you are concerned about the idea of introducing chemical insecticides to your garden’s ecosystem, products containing neem extracts are the way to go. Pesticides such as the Azamax Whitefly Insecticide are an eco-friendly alternative to harsh chemicals and are less likely to harm honeybees or other beneficial insect species. They are also more suitable for use on edible plants, such as vegetables and fruit trees.
Top tips for expert use
- Spray frequently: If you are using a foliar spray to tackle whitefly, make sure you use it regularly and diligently. Whiteflies reproduce very quickly, and repeated application is essential to take down successive generations of these insects.
- Employ preventative methods: Consider using a reflective, plastic mulch around the base of infested plants during treatment. This will help to prevent more whitefly from moving in, allowing you to tackle infestations more quickly.
Whiteflies are one of the most common garden pests and are notoriously tricky to get rid of. These tiny, moth-like insects can infiltrate greenhouses, flower beds, and trees, where they cause enormous damage to a variety of plants. Whether nibbling through leaves to feed on plant sap or spreading honeydew, a sticky residue that encourages the growth of mold, these bugs can decimate a carefully cultivated garden in no time!
Getting rid of your whitefly as soon as you spot them is essential, but choosing the best whitefly killer for you will depend on a variety of different factors. Systemic chemical pesticides are a great, one-use treatment for effective, lasting protection. If you have edible plants, however, a non-chemical alternative containing neem extract is a much better solution.