The azalea whitefly (Pealius azareae) is difficult to control. The best treatment is effective prevention, but an infestation isn't necessarily a death sentence for your plants. Several weapons are helpful in combating a damaging whitefly population.
Naturally occurring predators of the whitefly include lacewings, bigeyed bugs, minute pirate bugs, certain species of lady beetles (e.g. Clitostethus arcuatus and Harmonia axyridis) and parasites of the Encarsia species.
Removing leaves that have been infested with the nymphs and pupa of whitefly can help reduce the population to an amount controllable by natural predators.
Place yellow sticky traps close to infested plants at the level of the infestation, out of direct sunlight, with the sticky part facing the plant. This strategy works best in conjunction with other anti-whitefly tactics.
Remove adult whiteflies with a hand-held, battery-operated vacuum early in the morning when cool temperatures make the pests sluggish. Freeze the vacuum bag inside a plastic bag overnight to kill the flies before disposal.
Soaps and Oils
Thoroughly coat plants, including the underside of leaves, with insecticidal soaps and oils such as neem oil. Don't spray drought-stressed plants or during temperatures of 80 degrees Fahrenheit or above.
- University of California Integrated Pest Management Program: Whiteflies Management Guidelines
- North Carolina State University: Azalea Whiteflies
- University of Maryland Home and Garden Information Center: Diagnosing Insect and Mite Damage
- Garden Insects: A Comprehensive Guide to Safe Biological Pest Control
whitefly treatement, whitefly infestation, whitefly management, beneficial insects, insecticidal soap
About this Author
Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little is a freelance writer, blogger, and web designer from New Orleans, Louisiana. She is a graduate of the professional SF/F workshop Viable Paradise (2006). Recent published work appears at TwilightTales.com and Pangaia.com, with a short story forthcoming at Ideomancer.com (March 2010).