Whiteflies are garden and greenhouse pests found worldwide. They are tiny insects, in the order Hemiptera (also including aphids, scales, and mealybugs), that feed by sucking juices from plant leaves. There are more than 1500 species of whitefly, which feed on over 500 species of plants, from vegetables to ornamentals.
They damage plants in a few different ways. The first is by sucking the juices from the plants, leaving them wilted and stunted and causing the leaves to yellow and fall off. A whitefly infestation can kill plants simply by draining them. The second way how whiteflies harm plants is by carrying diseases from infected to healthy plants, much like ticks carry diseases from infected to healthy animals. They also secrete a sticky substance called honeydew, which attracts ants and provides an excellent growing surface for a black fungus called sooty mold.
In many cases, natural predators such as ladybugs, green lacewings, pirate bugs, whitefly predators (that’s the actual name of the insect), whitefly parasites (again, the actual name), big-eyed bugs, dragonflies, damselflies, parasitic wasps, and spiders keep whiteflies under control. However, pesticides, poor weather, and excessive ants can reduce predator populations, allowing whiteflies to proliferate.
If you have a minor infestation, you can do a few simple things to get rid of whiteflies and keep them gone. Spray down your plants with a water hose. This will dislodge the adult and juvenile whiteflies as well as their eggs. You can also stop them from spreading by removing any leaves you see whiteflies on. Once you’ve removed the whiteflies, coat your leaves with insecticidal soap, which you can make by mixing a squirt of dishwashing liquid with a gallon of water. Make sure to do this soaping step in the coolest part of the day. Heat can cause plants to react poorly to soapy water. To keep whiteflies from coming back, mulch with reflective material or place reflective objects in the garden. This will confuse whiteflies and make it difficult for them to identify plants. You can also hang yellow sticky traps, which you can make with yellow index cards and petroleum jelly. It’s also a good idea to create a safe, attractive habitat for natural whitefly predators.
If, however, you have a major infestation, commercial whitefly traps are recommended. Here, we will explore the top three whitefly traps offered on Amazon, as well as three less highly rated traps that are still worth considering. Our goal in providing this information is to give readers looking for a way to control whiteflies a buying guide so they can find the best product for their needs.
Safer Brand Houseplant Sticky Stakes
The top product on our list is Safer Brand’s Houseplant Sticky Stakes. A 2-pack comes with 7 pieces of single-sided sticky paper and 7 stakes, each with 2 clips, for $10.99. To install them, bend the sticky paper in half and clip the two ends together on the stake. Folded, they measure approximately 2” x 1”. Each stake is about 6” long and stakes can be connected to make them taller. They are advertised to trap not only whiteflies, but fungus gnats, blackflies, thrips, fruit flies, and midges.
These stakes do not contain pesticides, so they’re safe for your pets and they can be safely disposed of without harming other animals. They are great for catching both gnats and whiteflies, though they don’t work as well at catching fruit flies. They are more visually appealing than other, larger sheets of sticky paper and their small size makes them ideal for catching pests where they hang out because they fit right into the pot. This small size, however, also means that they need to be replaced often. Additionally, they can be an eyesore when they’re covered in dead bugs. While they are non-toxic and won’t harm beneficial insects that only become temporarily stuck, when placed outside, they can catch moths and butterflies. These traps are best for people with potted houseplants rather than outdoor ornamentals or vegetable gardens. While they’re extremely sticky and sometimes difficult to set up, they are easier to set up than double-sided sticky paper and work better than regular yellow tape or a yellow index card smeared with petroleum jelly. They can become stuck to pets’ fur, however, which can be a nuisance. Overall, these are an excellent product that successfully catches whiteflies and gnats on indoor plants.
- Catches whiteflies and gnats
- Better-looking than larger sheets
- Sticks right into the pot
- Easier to set up than double-sided sticky paper
- Must be replaced often
- Ugly when covered in dead bugs
- Catches moths and butterflies outside
- Sticks to fingers when setting up
- Sticks to pet fur
Trapro Whitefly Sticky Trap
Our second recommendation is Trapro’s Whitefly Sticky Trap. They come in a pack of 20 and are installed either by hanging them from branches with wire ties (included) or attaching them to a stake (not included) and sticking the stake into the soil. They are 6” x 8”, so they are larger than the Safer Brand paper. The company claims that they have been “specially designed to catch flying plant pests” and they are effective at catching not only whiteflies, but fungus gnats, thrips, aphids, leaf miners, and midges.
Like the Sticky Stakes, they do not contain pesticides. In practice, they are great for controlling gnats and whiteflies and even mosquitoes and ants. They even work in locations that get a lot of rain. While most users noted that bees, spiders, and butterflies did not become trapped even in locations with high insect activity, others found bees, moths, and even lizards stuck to their traps. Most lizards were easily saved. However, some perished. The traps’ large size and dual-sided stickiness provide greater surface area over which to catch pests and they can be cut down to smaller sizes if needed. Like the Safer Brand paper, these sheets can become stuck to pet fur and may be off-putting to some when coated in dead bugs. While they are effective when hung or placed on stakes, another, sometimes more effective, the setup is to lay them flat around the rim of a pot or in the soil around a plant. They are less sticky than traditional fly paper and won’t leave residue on your fingers. However, they are effective. While Trapro’s product does occasionally catch unintended creatures, the large size and relatively low incidence of collateral damage make them great for both indoor and outdoor use. Additionally, they have the best value for the money of our top three products.
- Catches whiteflies, gnats, mosquitoes, and ants
- Large surface area
- Doesn’t leave sticky residue on fingers
- Catches few non-target insects or spiders
- Works in the rain
- Great value
- Does catch some moths, bees, and lizards
- Sticks to pet fur
- Ugly when covered in dead bugs
Seabright Sticky Aphid Whitefly Trap
The item we recommend third-most highly is the Seabright Sticky Aphid Whitefly Trap. They are sold in a pack of 15. Installation procedure lies between Safer Brand’s and Trapro’s. These traps fold into a tent shape with the sticky side facing out and can sit directly in the soil or be hung via twist tie from branches. Folded, they’re about 4” x 6”, placing them squarely between the other two products on our list. Seabright boasts that they can capture whiteflies, aphids, moths, thrips, leafhoppers, and leafminers. They do not contain pesticides.
Users report that these traps are effective at catching both whiteflies and gnats. They work best when laid down on top of the soil rather than hung up. They work even when they get wet, either through rain or regular watering. While they’re unattractive, especially when full of dead bugs, they have a grid printed on them that allows you to easily monitor different parts of your garden by counting the bugs that are captured on different traps. This will help you see where the bugs are the worst. Like other products, they stick to things you don’t want them to stick to and might even trap some small birds. Overall, they’re a pretty good product, with the grid adding extra usefulness over the other two products.
- Catches whiteflies and gnats
- Works when wet
- The grid also allows garden pest monitoring
- Ugly, especially when covered in dead bugs
- Can catch unwanted animals, including birds
- Sticks to fingers, clothes, and parts of the plant
OTHER PRODUCTS TO CONSIDER
21C Dual Sticky Traps for Whiteflies are a decent alternative to the products above. They are butterfly-shaped, non-toxic, and can be stuck directly into the soil or hung from a branch. They didn’t make the top 3 because the traps come packaged together with no paper to separate them, so they are difficult to remove from the packaging and some of the glue can rub off on the inside of the packaging.
Trap Catch Fly Glueboards are another alternative product. They are also non-toxic and can be laid flat around plants, tied to a branch, or glued to a separate stake. They didn’t make the top product list because they’re less effective than the top products and a fish smell has been added to attract bugs that might end up attracting household pets instead of just pests.
Plai Double-Sided Plant Flycatchers are also an option to consider. They’re non-toxic and flower-shaped, which makes them more visually appealing than some of the previous products and they come with both twist ties and small wooden sticks. They don’t make the top 3 because the backing is difficult to remove, and they are not as water-resistant as other products.
A quick breakdown of whitefly traps
Whitefly traps are sticky traps designed to catch a variety of pest insects, including gnats, aphids, and leafminers, among others. Typically, they’re non-toxic, containing only an adhesive and sometimes an odor to attract bugs. They come in a variety of colors, depending on their target. Yellow and blue are the main colors, with white and red also deployed in some cases. Yellow is the most attractive color to whiteflies, which is the reason all the products reviewed above are yellow. Sticky traps are best used around plants, either in the soil, hanging from the plant itself, or spread around the rim of a pot.
- What type of users are whitefly traps intended for? These traps are best for people with infestations of pests on their plants.
- How do whitefly traps work? An insect attracted to the color of the paper or an added odor on the paper, flies to it and lands on it, becoming stuck in the adhesive. Eventually, the insect dies. As more and more bugs become trapped on the adhesive, the trap fills up with bugs and the infestation dies down. All sticky traps work the same way, no matter their shape or size or whether they’re staked in the soil, hung from branches or spread around the rim of a pot. Their effectiveness depends in large part on the adhesive used in manufacturing and their placement.
- What other, similar pest control products can whitefly traps replace? Sticky traps are a great replacement for insecticides. Some insect pests, including whiteflies, have developed resistance to many common pesticides, while several of their predators have not. In addition, pesticides can be dangerous for other animals, including household pets and even children. If you’re growing fruits or vegetables, pesticides can also end up in your food.
WHITEFLY TRAP BUYING GUIDE
Choosing the whitefly trap that’s best for you may seem daunting, but it’s really pretty simple. It all depends on the type of infestation you have and where you’re trying to control it.
For severe infestations (e.g., whiteflies all over your plants and flying around in your home, greenhouse, or garden), your best bet is going to be large, double-sided traps. These will catch the most flies because they have greater surface area than smaller, single-sided traps. For smaller groups of whiteflies (e.g., flies on a few of your plants and fairly well confined to a small area), you can use smaller, single-sided traps.
If you’re trying to control whiteflies in your indoor potted plants, you’ll probably want small traps that stick into the soil. Traps that hang from the plant itself are only good for larger, sturdier plants that won’t be weighed down or potentially break. You can also use small cards that you lay down around the rim of the pot. If you have whiteflies in your greenhouse staked traps, hung traps, or traps that you lay down will all work. You’ll probably need larger traps than you would indoors. For garden infestations, you’ll want the largest option, probably double-sided, and we would recommend both staked and hanging traps. Using both types means you can capture pests near the bottoms of your plants and up in the leaves. For both greenhouse and outdoor infestations, water-resistant traps are recommended because you’ll need them to continue working after watering your plants and when it rains. The prices of all the products we reviewed are pretty similar, so it’s going to come down to what you need for your particular pest problem.
OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION ABOUT WHITEFLY TRAPS
- Did You Know that entomologists (scientists who study insects) use sticky traps to monitor insect populations? Commercial greenhouses also use sticky traps to monitor and control pests.
- The color yellow is used on sticky traps to attract whiteflies because, to the flies, the bright yellow looks like new leaves.
- You can still have staked traps even if you bought some that are just cards. Simply glue the card to a popsicle stick or something similar and you have a staked trap!
LIVING WITH & USING WHITEFLY TRAPS
Sticky traps won’t solve the infestation problem on their own. They are merely a tool in your arsenal. Many of the techniques mentioned in the introduction will be a necessary accompaniment to sticky traps. To get the most out of your whitefly traps, follow these steps.
First, spray your plants with water or shake/brush them to dislodge whiteflies. You can also use a small vacuum cleaner a few times a week to suck up any stragglers. Once the whiteflies have scattered (or been vacuumed up), coat the leaves with soapy water. Be sure to cover the bottoms as well as the tops of the leaves. Repeat these steps two or three times. For outdoor gardens, cultivate an environment for whitefly predators. For example, a water feature (e.g., a pond) with tall plants will attract dragonflies, one of the whitefly’s (and mosquito’s) natural enemies. Next, put out reflective mulch, which will make it difficult for whiteflies to locate plants. Finally, place your sticky traps. They should keep the whiteflies down by capturing any potential colonists and will help you monitor the success of your treatment.
Keep track of your traps and replace them when they get too full. If you’re not catching whiteflies but you keep seeing them around your plants, try moving the traps to a different location or simply repositioning them.
Take care when installing your whitefly traps as the adhesive can be difficult to get off your fingers. Some companies suggest using vegetable oil to remove adhesive, while some users have had better luck with alcohol.
Be aware that, with outdoor use, you may catch things you don’t want to catch, like bees, butterflies, lizards, spiders, and even birds. Use your own discretion to determine what level of accidental catch is acceptable to you. Some people discontinue the use of sticky traps after one or two bees become ensnared because bees are so beneficial to gardens. If dragonflies or spiders are getting caught, you’re trading one whitefly control system for another as they are natural whitefly predators. Some users have had success saving lizards by applying olive oil to the lizard’s toes and gently peeling them off the adhesive with toothpicks. This would likely not work for any insects but might work to free trapped birds.
Sticky traps for whiteflies, gnats, and other flying pests are an important tool for indoor and outdoor pest control. They will help you both control and monitor pest infestations that can damage your plants. Safer Brand’s Houseplant Sticky Stakes are effective at catching whiteflies and are better than larger sticky cards for indoor use since they will fit more easily in pots. Their small size also makes them less of an eyesore than larger traps but means that they need to be replaced more often because they can’t hold as many bugs. They are also easier to set up than double-sized traps.
Trapro’s Whitefly Sticky Traps are great for catching whiteflies and provide a larger trapping surface because they are bigger than Safer Brand’s and are double-sided. They are best for outdoor pest control due to their large size and ability to work when wet. They can, however, be cut down to smaller sizes and placed in houseplant pots. They do catch non-target animals, including beneficial insects and even lizards. However, collateral damage is generally low, and lizards can usually be saved.
Seabright Sticky Aphid Whitefly Traps are also good at catching whiteflies and provide a larger surface area than Safer Brand but smaller than Trapro. They are great for both indoor and outdoor use as they can be hung or set directly on top of the soil. Like Trapro’s product, they continue working even when wet. One additional feature of Seabright Traps is the grid that aids in pest population monitoring. Like the other two produces, they do catch non-target animals. However, they offer a nice alternative to the other two in that they fit directly in between them in terms of size and installation.
If you have a whitefly infestation, you’ll likely need to employ some form of sticky trap along with spraying and attracting whitefly predators. The products reviewed above will all perform the same task effectively. The one you choose depends on the severity and location of the infestation. Here, we have tried to provide you with all the information you need to make your decision. Good luck!