How to Identify White Gnats


White gnats are better known as whiteflies. White gnats are soft-bodied insects that like to eat the sap from all kinds of plants. They can be mistaken for moths, but they are different in color and size. White gnats can be difficult to control, but can be eliminated with pesticide sprays. White gnats have predators such as spiders, ladybugs and lacewings that can all help reduce the number of white gnats on plants. Being able to identify white gnats will help you realize if your plants have them.

Step 1

Search on plant leaves for white gnats. They sit on the underside of leaves on all kinds of plants to eat the sap. White gnats feed close to the vein of the leaf, starting toward the top of the plant and working their way down. Look for eggs that are laid in a circular pattern.

Step 2

Look at the appearance of the white gnat. They are extremely small, no larger than 1/16-inch long. They are as small as dandruff. They are white, hence the name, and the adults have wings.

Step 3

Notice the texture of the white gnat. They are covered in a white powdery wax. Their, entire body, including wings are covered in a waxy film.

Step 4

Look on the plant leaves for sticky residue. White gnats tend to suck out more sap than they can eat at one time, leaving excess sap on the leaves. This can create mold growth on the leaves as well.

Step 5

Watch for swarms of white gnats. When you are watering the plant or shaking it, a swarm of white gnats will fly off the plant.


  • University of Missouri: Whiteflies
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About this Author

Laura Hageman has written varied articles on real estate to entertainment topics for the past three years. Hageman wrote a romantic comedy novel entitled Her Desire listed on She has written for Web sites such as CurrentForeclosures and Triond over the course of 7 years. Hageman holds a Bachelor's degree in Arts.