Photo by Melody

Greenhouse White Fly (Trialeurodes vaporariorum)

Order: Homoptera (ho-MOP-ter-a) (Info)
Family: Aleyrodidae
Genus: Trialeurodes
Species: vaporariorum


No positives
6 neutrals
11 negatives


This bug has been reportedly found in the following regions:

Huntsville, Alabama
Fox, Alaska
Golden Valley, Arizona
Mesa, Arizona
Queen Creek, Arizona
Conway, Arkansas
Russellville, Arkansas
Brea, California
Corning, California
El Macero, California
Fremont, California
Hesperia, California
Huntington Beach, California
Los Angeles, California
Reseda, California
San Jose, California
Santa Clara, California
Santa Maria, California
Tulare, California
Arcadia, Florida
Carrabelle, Florida
Lynn Haven, Florida
Miami, Florida
Palm Bay, Florida
Summerland Key, Florida
Tallahassee, Florida
Brunswick, Georgia
Dahlonega, Georgia
Douglasville, Georgia
Kennesaw, Georgia
Saint Simons Island, Georgia
Snellville, Georgia
Valdosta, Georgia
Honolulu, Hawaii
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Lafayette, Louisiana
Zachary, Louisiana
Belleville, Michigan
Hart, Michigan
Midland, Michigan
Vulcan, Michigan
Monett, Missouri
Verona, New Jersey
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Dansville, New York
Charlotte, North Carolina
Cincinnati, Ohio
Fairborn, Ohio
Glouster, Ohio
Painesville, Ohio
Williamsburg, Ohio
Portland, Oregon
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Quakertown, Pennsylvania
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Pawleys Island, South Carolina (2 reports)
Baytown, Texas
Fabens, Texas
Houston, Texas
Springdale, Utah
Marysville, Washington
Shelton, Washington

By palmbob
Thumbnail #1 of Greenhouse White Fly (Trialeurodes vaporariorum) by palmbob

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By VbSparky

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By palmbob

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Member Notes:

Negative palmbob On Sep 2, 2006, palmbob from Acton, CA
(Zone 8b) wrote:

This is one of the scourges of tropical plants, at least in southern California, as well as greenhouses everywhere. This species of white fly is a real pest, and very hard to control/eliminate from the uncontrolled environment (ie. outdoors). Anyone who grows Hibiscus in Southern California is well aware of this pest and the severe problems in causes. This is probably my least favorite pest of all pests. And this is one of the reasons I hardly ever grow Hibiscus here in So Cal... they are White Fly magnets, and it is hard to get through more than a few years without having at least one encounter, if not endless encounters, with this pest.

The White fly is identified by the small white insects fluttering about your Hibiscus, geranium, banana, palm (rare), or one of about 1000 other plants in southern California. It's tell tale signs are large clumps of white 'fur' growing on the undersides of leaves (secondary fungal growth from the ooze they cause), and circular to semicircular concentric white rings on leaves 1-2" in diameter (egg laying pattern). There are multiple species of white fly, but this one is by far the most common, and the only one that lays those concentric circles. THough I see them now and then on the undersides of banana leaves, and many other leaves in my yard, I have not noticed any infestation on those other plants. Just Hibiscus, which, cross my fingers, has not occurred on my Hibiscus YET in this new garden of mine, outside Los Angeles. But I see large Hibiscus plants in neighbor's yards covered with them. So I know it is only a matter of time.

They not only cause unsightly damage to leaves and the plant as a whole, but if not at least hosed off, can easily kill an entire hibiscus in a few months to a year. THere are lots of hits on about how to control this bug, but most are limited to greenhouse control... outdoor control is much more futile... but infections may not be as severe if unchecked, and these can be hosed off with the worst leaves tossed in plastic baggies and thrown out... but getting rid of them completely is a tough road.

Neutral VbSparky On Nov 9, 2006, VbSparky from Dansville, NY
(Zone 6a) wrote:

yellow sticky cards work good to trap them.

Negative northstar1111 On Nov 17, 2006, northstar1111 from Hart, MI wrote:

I have only found this bug on a poinsettia which I tried to extend beyond our holiday season for many months and an anthurium which I have had for several years. The anthurium is disappointing because it is difficult to grow as a houseplant here.I don't want to loose it.I have looked online to see what to do but it looks involved. I think somehow I overwatered both plants and made them susceptible.

Neutral riceke On Nov 22, 2006, riceke from Snellville, GA
(Zone 7b) wrote:

And I thought I was alone with this critter. I had so many of them on my tomatoe plants that if you disturbed them it was like a cloud of smoke that came off the plants. I tried hosing them off, using Neem, Insecticidal soap and malathion but nothing seemd to last long enough to keep them off longer than a day or two. Yet I had other tomato plants merely 25 feet away that had none on them. I don't know the life cycle of these varmits but I'm beginning to think that they overwinter in the soil. I sure would like to find a way to drive a stake into the hearts of those little sap sucking insects.

Neutral lynjack On Jun 3, 2007, lynjack from Highcroft
Australia wrote:

With regards to the scourge of whitefly I do something to start with and that is to give the plant a shake and spray the B....... with fly spray. This gets them down to smaller ammounts then I spray the plant underneath in particular with household cooking oil (used) mixed with a bit of detergent and water. This seems to have some control but I have to spray every couple of weeks to have a some sort of control. I also am waiting for the magic solution from one or more of the larger seed companies. Good luck Lynjack

Neutral daylily2006 On Oct 15, 2007, daylily2006 from Golden Valley, AZ
(Zone 8b) wrote:

I was inundated with these horrible little critters this year on my grape vine! I have tried hosing it off, daily, and spraying an insecticide also. Then after neither of these attempts actually did anything I also tried a systemic. Nothing seems to allieviate them though. UGH! They seem to like all the soft leaved plants. I find if I keep sprinkling my other plants, like snail vine, they seem to mostly stay on the grapevine. Hoping to find a better cure for sure!

Negative konijntje On Mar 16, 2008, konijntje from Seattle, WA
(Zone 8a) wrote:

Is there an additional rating about 5 steps beyond merely "negative?" My experience has been very similar to other posters, both in terms of the way these freakishly indestructible bugs appear and in terms of my difficulty in discerning from available formal and informal sources any systematic, effective approach to ridding my life of them. The plants they most devastated here were in various container gardens: two formerly-gorgeous, giant pointsettias, sweet potato vines, zinnas and caladiums. As others have written, they massed around my container gardens in clouds and after unsuccessfully trying a number of the same treatments others have mentioned, I had to destroy the (sickened, sad) plants AND all of the soil as I also read in several reputable sources that they live in it and therefore any topical or systemic is likely to have minimal effect if the plant stays in the same infected soil. Oddly, they seemed to wait until these plants were well-established and quite lush before attacking, making the heartbreak all the worse. I wish I knew whether they had travelled in and spread via one of those plants I purchased last year and therefore are now eradicated OR if they're still lurking around my yard somewhere waiting both for some newbies I have high hopes for or for an old friend I had babied for years. Those pointsettias had such a sentimental story (rescued, like the sad little Christmas tree in Charlie Brown, from the side of the road post-Holiday, bare sticks in dried out supermarket containers). Wretched bugs.

Neutral tzatzu On Mar 18, 2008, tzatzu from Santa Maria, CA wrote:

Last year, 2007, was my first encounter with these awful bugs. The yellow two sided stickies worked very well to control the white flies. The white flies do not appear to have overwintered very well but it's early yet. I've also thrown out all the old potting soil, sterilized all of my pots with hydrogen peroxide, and am replanting with flowers and plants that the white flies appear to avoid.

Negative dgapwalls On Apr 24, 2008, dgapwalls from Dahlonega, GA wrote:

We purchased some shrubs and flowering plants recently at a 'garden show', and three or four days later, our sun room was infested with these pests. We have sprayed with 'store purchased' insecticides, but finally moved the plants outside, spraying again. These seem to be the same pests that infest the cotton plants down here in the South, but as a normal consumer, we cannot purchase the strength of insecticide that is used commercially. We'll keep spraying the critters with over the counter stuff, and hope for the best. Just a word of caution when purchasing plants at one of these show type events. You'll never know what you might bring home!

Negative edrcook1 On Jun 17, 2008, edrcook1 from Corning, CA wrote:

my yellow pear tomatoe leaves look like the are being sucked dry of moisture. I read somewhere that jalapeno water will discourage them but I haven't tried yet.

Negative hazelwood On Jan 13, 2009, hazelwood from Fort Wayne, IN wrote:

I also had a bad time with the whitefly last summer, they destroyed my tomato plants. They were on my pepper platnts but did no real damage.

I understand that sopy water and neem oil can be used but no insecticides should be used to avoid damage to beneficial insects.

Negative Cypsela On Apr 12, 2009, Cypsela from Navajo City, NM
(Zone 5b) wrote:

I have summer infestations of whiteflies in my greenhouse. They seem to live on the celery the most. If I move the plants outdoors into the breeze, the whiteflies leave the plants. I think if I had a fan by the plants it would discourage the little critters. I tried the yellow cards and trapped a lot of them but could not get a level of control during the summer months. I tried one type of beneficial insects but I think one of the little wasps would be better. The whiteflies generally don't bother the tomatoes, but they attack the peppers.

I think if I got obsessive about controlling them, there is a chance. The problem is that I have the rest of my life distracting me from the War on Whiteflies.

Negative J_R_S On Jun 23, 2009, J_R_S from Carrabelle, FL wrote:

I have found one thing that sort of works. Forget all the commecial insecticide sprays that claim on the label to work on white flies. They don't. Not for more than a day or two and you have to poison everything in sight. But you can get relief by thoroughly soaking the tops and bottoms of ALL leaves on the infected plant(s) with a spray of liquid Spinosad D (Fertilome, Bionide and Green Light all make liquid concentrates of Spinosad D and a tablespoon makes a gallon of spray). Spinosad is a realtively safe organic compound that only attacks certain bugs and doesn't harm beneficial insects (although like anything you have to keep it away from water and bees). You can use it on fruits and vegetables up to 3 or 4 days before harvest. A thorough spray of it will make the tiny white creeps completely disappear for like maybe 4 or 5 days. Then a few will begin to reappear. It takes them about another week for the next generation to building up in large numbers -- at which time you can hit them with the Spinosad again. This is the best thing I've found, but who knows how long it will be before they develop an immunity to the Spinosad?

The other option is ladybugs and lacewings. They love to chow down on white flies. If you've got a bad infestation (and there doesn't seem to be any other kind), it might be worth purchasing a box or two of ladybugs and sending them out to do battle. Unfortunately for me, we have such strong continual breezes around here that the ladybugs I release don't stay around for long.

Side note: A spray of Spinosad D also will also completely eliminate the hard-to-kill citrus leaf miners... works far better than anything else (and far safer as well).

I organically co-exist with most garden pests, but I gotta say if I found a nuclear option that worked on these damn white flies I wouldn't hesitate. I have noticed several people mention that they got them on their poinsettias and I believe that's how they entered my greenhouse as well (and then spread outside to the rest of the garden). I attempted to rescue two abandoned poinsettias last Christmas and that's when the trouble started.

Negative live_at_peace On Jul 17, 2009, live_at_peace from Charlotte, NC
(Zone 8a) wrote:

An important thing to know about this pest is that they sometimes move around through the day.

Last year, I noticed the lilac bush that grows next to our deck was suffering, but when I examined it I found no insects. Some time later, I happened to be out on the deck, at night with a flashlight, and saw that the poor lilac's leaves were covered with a thousand little white flies.

The lilac bush has small narrow leaves that point up. The white flies love it, but I think it doesn't offer the shade/shelter they prefer in the daylight, so they go elsewhere until night.

If your trying to eliminate these nasty little flies I suggest attacking at night when they're all snug in bed. Some plants, such as tomatoes, can be hurt by insecticidal soap at night. The pores on the underside of the leaf are closed during the day to prevent moisture loss, but open up at night, making them more vulnerable to damage.

Negative bugbait On Sep 13, 2010, bugbait from Zachary, LA
(Zone 8b) wrote:

UUUUgh!! These darn bugs have invaded my entire yard! After searching the net and visiting several local nurseries for advice I decided to use the cheapest method. Pantene clarifying shampoo was suggested in an article. I was unable to find any after visiting several stores. I did find Suave Clarifying shampoo. A very large bottle cost me $1.49. I mixed 5 teaspoons to my 2 gallon sprayer and sprayed everything in my yard where I did and did not see this pest. Its been two days and I have seen very few. I plan to spray with something new tomorrow. I will not let this bug defeat me!!

Neutral DAKOTA31400 On Feb 18, 2011, DAKOTA31400 from Petersburg, ND
(Zone 3a) wrote:

Persistance is the key for vegetables.

First a quick note and then onto controlling white fly.

I won't use any synthetic organic pesticides or fungicides in my garden. Never have and never will.....In 40 years, never had to....for white fly included. Pesticides kill the bugs that prey on the pests too, upsetting the natural order of things leaving your garden defenseless against the bad guys. So, once you kill everything, the bad guys reproduce unchecked by nature. From that point on, you will have no choice but to use pesticides.

My arsenal is simple and safe..

Liquid Soap
Baking soda
BT (thuricide) This is the only line I's commercial biological warfare...which by the way, is harmless to higher order animals and is approved for certified organic gardening.

Soap (not detergent) dehydrates soft bodied insects ((catipillars, white fly larvae...etc.), prevents the spread of viruses and makes the plant taste nasty to many sucking hard bodied insects like stink bugs. There is a commercial product on the market that's called "Safer". It is a ready mix soap spray solution thats less harse to plants, but it's expensive. I do recommend using it on seedlings. This product also contains sulfur and contols fungus and mites too.

Milk (whole milk) prevents the spread of viruses and bacteria.

Baking Soda kills fungus (white mold, sooty mildew..etc.), but using too much will burn plants.

BT is a bacterium that kills catipillars and some insect larvae that eat the plant tissue.

Many formulas that use these ingredients are on the internet, but I simply use one universal mixure. You can adjust this base formula (below) to control specific pests by simply adding or ommitting the appropriate ingredients.

Add 2-3 teaspoons of baking soda to a gallon jug and fill it half way with water...shake to dissolve.
Add 2 cups whole milk and mix.
Fill almost to the top with water.
Add 2 tablespoons of liquid soap (Murphys, Ivory...etc.) and shake it up.....Now it's ready to use and keeps about 1 week in the fridge.

Spray infected plants as needed keeping the life cycles of the pest in mind (you need to research this yourself).....always test it first on a few leaves to make sure it won't burn the plant . When using this mixture, always insure total plant coverage.

Now first and foremost: Sanitation is the most important part of keeping your garden healthy and pest free. Be prepared to keep your garden clean by removing any heavily infested (insect/mite) or infected (virus, bacteria, fungus) plants, from the garden. It hurts, but you have to do it...Remove leaves if the infection is localized. If the plant is over run, pull it, roots and all with some dirt to boot....don't hesitate, do it immediately.

Use sticky traps ( 3 or 4 for each 100 square ft of garden) only to monitor for the presence of pests, not to control them.

Now for contolling White Fly:

For seedlings and young plants: 2 tbl liquid soap (not detergent) in 1 gallon of water, or the product called " Safer ".

At the first sign of infestation (watch your sticky traps) look for the plants that are infested and spray the under sides of the leaves in late afternoon or on an overcast day. Try to get complete coverage. Repeat the next afternoon if no apparent damage from the spray mix has occured to the plant. Repeat with 1 application every 3 days for 2 weeks....Stop use if plants begin to show signs of burning. then as needed (first sign of flies) until the plants have grown and become sturdy.

Sturdy plants.

Using a garden hose and spray nozzle, wet down the plants from below to get the adult flys in the air and on the move. Then take them out while on the wing with a continuous blast of water until most of them hit the ground. Once white flies are wet and down, they won't get up. Take the time to get as many of them as possible. Repeat every other day until you don't see anymore. Monitor with sticky traps. Take agressive action promply when they return (they will) using either a spray soap solution or the water cannon method.

Negative tn63050 On Aug 20, 2012, tn63050 from Marysville, WA wrote:

This was my second year dealing with this pest. I do have a small greenhouse and am not sure if they were a carry over from last year. I tried ladybugs and safer soap to no avail. I have also tried the yellow sticky strips. Finally found something that worked for me: Fels-NapthaŽ soap. I scraped the bar with a knife to get a powder and placed approx 1 teaspoon in a quart spray bottle with water. I sprayed top and bottom of all the leaves. It must be reapplied once a week for about three weeks to get them all. It worked wonders. As an added bonus, the aphids were gone, too!

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