White-flies

What Are White-flies?

Their appearance is angelic for sure, with their whitish bodies and wings but don’t let that disguise fool you. White-flies are very closely related to aphids. They can be as small as 2mm long, soft bodied, winged insects. They are found in almost all the regions and because they are so tiny, are often camouflaged. They love to hide in clusters on the undersides of leaves which make them even more difficult to be detected and they multiply really fast. White-flies are active during the day and can live through winters as well.

My first encounter with them was when I first planted cherry tomatoes in my aquaponics system. I was late in detecting them and ended up pulling my cherry tomato plant off because they were so nasty and spreading really quickly.

 

Why Are They Damaging?

white-flyWhite-flies feed on plant juices. Yes, they actually suck the living daylights out of your plants and produce a sticky substance called honeydew. Left unattended, this honeydew could cause fungal diseases on leaves. This in the long run can cause the leaves to turn yellow, dry and eventually die off. Since they like to hide on the underside of leaves it is always a good idea to do a routine check on these parts of your aquaponics plants. They lay eggs very rapidly once they have attached to your plant’s leaves. You would not belief it, adult females can lay up to 400 eggs and these eggs can hatch anytime in the region of one week to a month.

 

How To Get Rid Of White-flies?

Well, the best way is not to give them the chance to propagate. Carry out routine checks on your plants and remove them as soon as you see them. There are a few popular ways to do that, but these work only in the initial stages of detection. If they have spread throughout your plants, it’s best to remove them and disposed of properly. Unless you choose to use chemically produced insecticides, removing them is almost impossible. And since we are growing “aquaponically”, that option is out of the question.

 

To safely remove white-flies from your aquaponics plants, you could:

  • Spray pepper water mix directly onto them. Especially at the underside of the leaves. How much pepper should you use? Well, until you can feel the spiciness or tenderness in your eyes as you spray the solution in close proximity.
  • Another homemade remedy you can try is; mix two parts of rubbing alcohol in a 32 ounce spray bottle to 1 tablespoon liquid soap and 5 parts water. Spray them to the undersides of leaves. Some gardening shops even sell white-fly traps which could be useful.
  • And a biological control method, is by introducing ladybugs and spiders to help control white-fly population.
  • Snip-off leaves that are infected. Put them in a properly closed or sealed bag and burn it to avoid the white-flies from spreading.
  • Snip-off leaves that are infected. Put them in a properly closed or sealed bag and burn it to avoid the white-flies from spreading.


Multiple applications may be required to control the white-flies as what repels or kill the adults may not have the same effect on the larvae and vice-versa. They are one nasty little insect.

 


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