Spiraling White Fly. Is your landscape protected from this disastrous pest??

Its time again for white fly treatment. What is white fly you ask? Rugose spiraling white fly is not to be confused with the white fly that was introduced to SWFL in 2009. The 2009 white fly causes defoliation and die back of ficus here in Florida. Rugose spiraling white fly is an entirely separate species of insects. **clap clap** Yay! Another pest to worry about.The rugose spiraling white fly heavily affects SWFL from Sanibel down to Naples.

What are the symptoms?

If your plants have it, you cannot miss it. The undersides of the leaves are covered with an abundance of white, waxy material and the top with excessive black sooty mold. The sooty mold is a particular nuisance as it also accumulates on uninfected understory plants, mulch, gravel, concrete, automobiles and even on the surface of water. The preamble to the sooty mold is a sticky material known as honeydew, a sugary substance that is food for the sooty mold fungus. It wouldn’t hurt to understand the unending relationship between the whitefly, the honeydew and the sooty mold. Whiteflies, including this one, feed by sucking the sap from the leaves of plants. The sap is the sugary food of many insects and after consumption the whiteflies expel the waste as a sticky, glistening substance known as honeydew. Aerial spores of a fungus known as sooty mold, which are always present but unseen to the naked eyes, settle to feed on the honeydew. The shiny honeydew soon turns black as the fungus accumulates and spreads. Sooty mold can be physically removed but more often than not, new unaffected leaves replace old affected leaves returning the plant back to its normal appearance. While this is a messy pest, we are not sure about the degree of damage it causes to its many hosts. I know of no case of a plant killed by the rugose spiraling whitefly.

What plants does is choose as its host?

The rugose spiraling whitefly is big and docile for a whitefly. They can gather in such great numbers that clouds of whiteflies take flight when an affected plant is shaken. This whitefly is particularly adapted to feeding on many types of plants. Top on the list are gumbo limbo, black olive, and Brazil beautyleaf trees; also palms such as areca, coconut, and foxtail, and birds of paradise shrub. It does not discriminate against native, exotic, or invasive plants.


In this relatively early phase of an insect tsunami we often recommend restraint so as to build up the population of predators. Killing the pest often means killing the predator when using some forms of insecticides. To reduce the risk of killing the good guys a systemic insecticide is preferred for control. Systemic insecticides are absorbed by the plant’s roots and trunk and move upward to the area of feeding. Since the predatory insects and mites do not feed on the toxic plant tissue they are not noticeably affected by systemic insecticides. Systemic insecticides give longer pest control than contact insecticides.

We offer treatment for white fly on a six months basis, and as needed. If you have any questions always feel free to contact us! Check out the contact page through this website. We look forward to working with you!

#whitefly #spiralingwhitefly #pest #rugose #palms #ficus

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