Whiteflies are tiny white flying bugs in houseplants, and they are very common plant pests. Don’t worry, you can get rid of whiteflies on plants! Follow these organic treatment methods to kill them now, and learn how to eliminate them FOR GOOD!
If you’ve ever had to fight to control houseplant pests before, you know just how frustrating it can be. But don’t despair, you can eliminate whiteflies, and keep them away for good!
Below I will walk you through everything you need to know about whiteflies: how to correctly identify them, their lifecycle, the damage they cause, where they come from, and most importantly, how to get rid of them!
Here’s what you’ll find in this detailed guide for getting rid of whiteflies…
What Do Whiteflies Look Like?
As the name would suggest, whiteflies look like tiny white flies in houseplants. They are easy to identify because the adults will fly around when the leaves of an infested plant are disturbed.
In fact, you probably won’t even notice the infestation until you disturb the plant, and start choking on a cloud of tiny white bugs.
If you see little white bugs on plants, but they don’t fly around, then you may have mealybugs instead of whiteflies. Here’s how to get rid of mealybugs on your houseplants.
Otherwise, if the bugs start flying around when you disturb the plant, those are definitely whiteflies so keep on reading…
Whitefly Life Cycle
The full whitefly life cycle takes about 4-6 weeks. There are more than three stages in a the whitefly life cycle, but the three main ones are the eggs, nymphs and adults.
Female adult whiteflies lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves. Flip a leaf over and take a close look; the eggs, nymphs and adults are small but easy to see.
Unfortunately, the nymph whiteflies cause the most damage to the plant. So, by the time you notice the adults flying around, there’s probably already been major damage to your plant.
Whitefly Damage To A Houseplant
Whiteflies harm a houseplant by sucking the juices out of the leaves and flower buds, causing them to turn yellow and drop from the plant. This feeding occurs during both the nymph and adult stages of these plant bugs.
Heavy whitefly infestations can cause severe damage to a houseplant. If left untreated, whiteflies will eventually kill the plant.
It would take a long time for whiteflies to kill a large plant though, so this is usually more of a concern for small or weak plants and seedlings.
Where Do Whiteflies Come From?
Many times it seems like whiteflies come from nowhere. One day your houseplant is fine, and the next there are tons of tiny white bugs flying around, leaving many people wondering, what causes whiteflies in the first place?
Whiteflies can come from anywhere, but here are a few of the most common causes…
- Bringing home a newly purchased plant that has whiteflies on it
- Using contaminated potting soil
- Putting houseplants outside during the summer
- Bringing in fresh flowers, herbs, fruits or vegetables from the garden
- Whiteflies could also easily come through window screens, since they are so small
How To Get Rid Of Whiteflies On Indoor Plants
As with any houseplant pest infestation, once you discover whiteflies, you’ll want to take action right away.
There are several organic whitefly control options, which I will share below. You can learn more about natural houseplant pest control remedies here.
I don’t recommend using synthetic chemical pesticides on any plant pests because they aren’t as effective (and they are also toxic to us and our pets too!).
Plus, houseplant pests like whiteflies can actually build up a tolerance to chemicals over time, making the problem even worse.
So skip the toxic chemical pesticides and choose safer, organic whitefly treatment methods instead. Here’s how to get rid of whiteflies organically…
How To Treat Whitefly Infestation
When it comes to how to kill whiteflies on your houseplants, you have to take a two-step approach, otherwise you won’t be able to get rid of them.
Since the adults will fly away from the plant when it’s disturbed, sprays will only work to kill the eggs and nymphs.
So first you need to treat the plant to kill the eggs and nymphs, and then use different methods to kill the adults in order to get rid of whiteflies for good.
How To Treat Whitefly Larvae & Eggs
It’s actually pretty easy to get rid of whitefly eggs, larvae and nymphs, they are easy to kill.
My home remedy for whiteflies on plants is to first use a homemade insecticidal soap to kill them, and then use a homemade neem oil spray to keep them away for good.
Remember, these treatments will only be effective on the eggs and nymphs, and the adults will fly away from the spray.
It’s a good idea to spray the entire plant, but be sure to focus your whitefly treatment sprays on the undersides of the leaves, because this is where whiteflies lay their eggs.
Homemade Insecticidal Soap For Whiteflies
Use a solution of soapy water, and spray it on the leaves of your infested plant. You can make your own using my recipe below, or you can buy a pre-mixed organic insecticidal soap instead.
If the plant is small enough, I will first bring it to the sink or shower and wash the leaves really well using my homemade whitefly spray, and then rinse the leaves to wash off as many of the eggs and larvae as I can.
My homemade insecticidal soap whitefly spray recipe:
- 1 tsp of mild liquid soap
- 1 liter of tepid water
Simply mix the ingredients and pour into a spray bottle, then spray directly on the plant leaves.
Keep in mind that some types of soap can damage the plant, so it’s best to test any type of pest control spray on a few leaves before spraying the entire plant.
Use Neem Oil For Whiteflies
Neem oil makes a wonderful natural spray for whitefly control that is very effective for eliminating them. It also has a residual effect that works as a whitefly repellent to keep them from coming back.
Use neem oil for whiteflies that have already infested your plants, or use it as a preventive pest control spray.
My homemade neem oil whitefly spray recipe:
Mix all the ingredients together, pour into a spray bottle and spray directly on the leaves of your plants.
Be sure to test this mixture on a leaf or two before spraying the whole plant to make sure it doesn’t harm your plant.
Read more about How To Use Neem Oil Insecticide On Plants
In addition to cleaning and spraying the plant, you can trim off the most heavily infested leaves and throw them into the garbage (outside the house).
This can help get the whitefly infestation under control faster by eliminating many of the nymphs and eggs. Don’t cut all of the leaves off your plant though.
How To Kill Whitefly Adults
As I mentioned above, adult whiteflies are much more difficult to control than the nymphs and eggs.
Whitefly adults can fly around and lay their eggs on other nearby houseplants, especially when you start treating the infested plant.
And, if you don’t get rid of the adults, your whitefly infestation will just keep coming back.
Don’t worry, you can kill the adults too, here are a few simple and natural whitefly control methods to try…
Yellow Sticky Traps For Whiteflies
The best way to get rid of whiteflies is to use whitefly traps that are specifically designed to trap and kill the adults, which actually work very well. Whitefly sticky traps are also non-toxic, and safe to use indoors.
In very heavy infestations, you could also use a vacuum cleaner to capture the adults as they fly from the plant, but be careful not to suck up your plants leaves in the process.
Be sure to regularly inspect houseplants that are near the infested plant to see if the whiteflies have laid eggs on those plants too.
Then continue to monitor other plants in the area until your whitefly infestation is completely gone.
How To Prevent Whiteflies From EVER Coming Back
It doesn’t take long to get an infestation under control using the whitefly pest control tips listed above.
But you can’t just spray once, and expect to magically get rid of these tiny white bugs on houseplants forever.
You have to be persistent or it can be very difficult to get rid of whiteflies for good.
Here are a few prevention tips to keep them from ever coming back…
- After an infestation occurs, check your plants daily for signs of new whiteflies and treat them immediately
- Quarantine all newly purchased houseplants for a few weeks to ensure they don’t have bugs on them
- If you put any houseplants outside during the summer, be sure to clean and debug them before bringing them back indoors
- Use neem oil as preventive pest control spray on plants that have recurring problems with whiteflies
Pest infestations on houseplants are no fun, and dealing with whiteflies can be difficult.
Whatever method you decide to use, you have to be diligent. They can be difficult to get rid of, especially if you have several houseplants.
Don’t worry, now that you know how to get rid of whiteflies on houseplants your persistence will pay off, so keep fighting the good fight!
If you’re tired of battling bug on your houseplants, then my houseplant pest control eBook is for you! In it you will learn how to identify and kill all of the most common houseplant pests, and get all of my secrets for how to keep bugs off indoor plants FOR GOOD! Download your copy today!
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How do you get rid of whiteflies on plants? Share your houseplant pest control tips in the comments below.