Whiteflies in the Vegetable Garden

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When summer days become humid and oppressive, you can be sure that whiteflies will be showing up soon. Whiteflies are small, white, winged insects that pierce the skin of the plant and suck the sap out. When the plant leaf is disturbed whiteflies will fly up in your face. Most folks who have gardened for a while are very familiar with the whitefly and know that they can quickly infest many garden crops.

One of the keys to controlling this pest is early detection and treatment. Check the undersides of leaves and look for small white insects. When you see them, don’t wait! Apply a chemical immediately. They are much easier to control before their numbers build up and they do build up quickly in hot and humid weather.

Sprays containing pyrethrin such as Bonide Tomato and Vegetable Concentrate should be applied thoroughly to the undersides of the leaves. This should be repeated every 7 days. An insecticidal soap will also offer some control. Insecticidal Soap is not a homemade product. It does have chemical ingredients and should not be confused with dish soap mixed with water and applied to plants. A common brand found in our area is Safer’s Insecticidal Soap. It is considered to be an organic product.

Good air movement is also a key to controlling whiteflies. Whiteflies also live in tall weeds so good weed management around the perimeter of the garden is important. Inspect your garden often and stay on top of problems. This is the best method for controlling whiteflies.

white flies on vegetable plants