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All You Need to Know About the Ficus Whitefly in South Florida

photo shows a colony of whiteflies sucking on a tomato leaf
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The pest control market is worth over $22.7 billion. Professionals remove common threats such as rats and ants as well as new, invasive species.

The ficus whitefly is one of the latest pests to infest the gardens of Florida. It feeds on plants, leaves a substance on their leaves, and reproduces at a rapid rate.

Knowing how to identify and remove these pesky bugs is the best way to protect your landscape. Read our guide to learn more about ficus whitefly pest control.

What Is a Ficus Whitefly?

The first ficus whitefly in Florida was identified in 2007. They’re an invasive pest native to southeast Asia.

Whiteflies prefer outdoor plants, but it’s easy to accidentally bring them indoors if you don’t thoroughly inspect any new plants you’ve purchased. This is how they were brought over from their original home.

Their name is actually somewhat deceptive. Whiteflies aren’t actually flies. They’re more closely related to aphids or mealybugs.

There are several species of whitefly. The ficus whitefly feeds primarily on ficus plants. Other species, such as the greenhouse, bandedwinged, giant, and silverleaf whitefly, affect a wide range of plants.

Silverleaf whiteflies are smaller and have a more yellow color than other species. They eat crops and are common throughout the Southern United States, including Florida.

Adult whiteflies are 1.4-1.6mm long with oval bodies, white wings, grayish-brown markings, and dark red eyes. Their eggs are yellow or light brown and appear on the midvein or underside of leaves.

Finding out what type of whitefly you have is the first step before calling a pest control company to remove them.  

How to Identify Ficus Whiteflies

Whiteflies tend to come out in mid-to-late summer when it’s warm and humid. They can hide in almost any plant, but they do have their preferred habitat. Be sure to check the underside of newly furled leaves.

Scan every spot on your plants for small white bugs. Check for their round, yellow or brown eggs as well. Spotting the next generation before it can grow is key.

You should also check for ants. They’re attracted to the honeydew that the ficus whitefly leaves behind. They’re both pests and, if you see one, the other isn’t far behind. If you can’t see any actual insects, look for the damage they leave behind.

The ficus whitefly is considered a pest because it can wreak havoc on local plant life. It can cause fungal diseases and mold to form on leaves. 

A few examples of the effect they can have on the plants they feed on include:

  • Yellowing of leaves
  • Defoliation
  • Branch dieback

If you notice these changes in your plants, they may be the result of a whitefly infestation. Take the time to identify them and confirm your suspicions, then call a professional to help you remove them.

Ficus Whitefly Treatment and Prevention

Hiring a professional is your best defense against any type of pest, but there are also several ways to prevent a whitefly problem.

Inspect all your plants regularly. Look over any new ones you purchase and quarantine them for a few weeks to ensure they can’t spread pests to the rest of your landscape. 

Ficus whiteflies have a wide range of natural predators. Encourage ladybugs, spiders, dragonflies, and hummingbirds to visit and control the level of your pest population.

Aluminum reflective mulch makes it difficult for the ficus whitefly to find food sources. These preventative measures help, but they’re not enough to combat a full-blown infestation. For that, you’ll need a professional pest control treatment.

Regardless of the type of pest being removed, the process involves 3 important steps.

The first step is identifying the pest. Experts will assess your home to determine what sort of creature is damaging your home.

The next step is developing a treatment plan for your situation. It involves determining the right pest control methods or chemicals to use and where.

Finally, the experts should return every month and as needed. They’ll reassess your home and see if you need further pest control treatment.

How Often To Get Ficus Whitefly Treatment

Ficus whitefly infestation levels are tripling. They’re a pesky, hardy bug that’s difficult to kill. 

Professionals used to recommend getting ficus whitefly treatment every 3 months, but this may no longer be enough. There are several reasons you may need to have it done at least every 2 months.

There are only 2 types of ficus whitefly insecticides that work, with several subclasses of varying effectiveness. The pests have become resistant to most of them. Severe rain and hedge trimming remove the insecticide from the plants the ficus whitefly hides in. This makes any treatment less effective and increases the number of times you’ll need to have it done.

The heat of Florida may be increasing the state’s whitefly problem. They love warm weather, and it sends them out in swarms. It also increases their breeding cycle from 12-14 weeks to every 2-3 weeks. 

A pest control professional can recommend how often you’ll need to receive ficus whitefly treatment. They’ll arrive with the best possible tools and return as often as you need them until the bugs are eradicated.

Where to Find the Best Pest Control Services

The ficus whitefly has been a pest to Florida residents for at least 14 years. It kills beloved plants and hides on the underside of leaves to lay its eggs. If you identify the ficus whitefly in your home or garden, get in contact with a pest control professional as soon as possible. These adaptive insects love the heat of Florida. You may need several sessions to get rid of them.

One Two Tree will remove any rodent, insect, or other unwanted creature from your property. Get a quote for our pest control services today.

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