Along with the red spider and the cochineal, the whitefly is one of the most common pests in both gardening and horticulture today. This small insect, which seems to cling tightly to some plantations or crops, is the terror of many farmers when the hot and humid season arrives. If we are not careful and this plague appears or if once we detect it we do not fight it, it very easily ruins crops and gardens.
if you want to learn how to get rid of whitefly and prevent it, join us in this EcologíaVerde article in which you will find a practical guide with tips and remedies for it.
How to identify the fly – characteristics and symptoms in plants
the white flywhich is part of the family of aleurodid insects (Aleyrodidae), is about 2 mm in size or less, it is very harmful to plants. It tends to be placed on the underside of the leaves, where it takes advantage of their greater porosity to absorb the plant’s sugars and nutrients. It is a very well adapted pest, in fact it is one of the most common pests in plants, and most of its species have the ability to feed on a wide range of plants, which is why they sometimes become so difficult to combat.
The greatest danger of this plague is not the weakness it causes to the plant (although in very serious cases it is enough to endanger it) but the molasses they secrete, which attracts ants and can cause the appearance of a large number of diseases, such as fungi.
If you suspect there may be a whitefly infestation on your plantsobserve the underside of leaves looking for them. A very simple and quick method to locate them is to lightly shake the leaves of the plant: if the whiteflies are on them, they will immediately fly away.
How to remove whitefly – remedies
How to fight whitefly? The truth is that there are insecticides with artificial chemicals that are commercial products that are easy to find, but there are also several ecological methods to combat this pest and thus not have to expressly resort to an artificial whitefly insecticide, saving us from contaminating the crop. These are the whitefly remedies most effective and popular:
As with the red spider and cochineal, potassium soap is a great tool in the fight against this plague. Dilute the soap in water and spray the mixture on your affected plants, making sure that it reaches all corners, especially the underside of the leaves. Many of the adult specimens will fly away and the action of the soap will kill the remaining insects, including the larvae, allowing us to end the problem if we keep the application for a few days.
In this other article we explain how to make potassium soap so you can prepare this product at home.
Neem or Nim essential oil is another very effective natural insecticide. This essential oil is applied in the same way as potassium soap: diluted in water and sprayed on the affected plants. In fact, it is common to apply them together in the same solution to increase their effectiveness.
This natural homemade insecticide is very useful to combat various pests, among which is the white fly. It is prepared with hot chili or chilli peppers, garlic and unground black pepper, as well as 96º alcohol as the base of the mixture. It is a natural remedy widely used in Latin America and it is really very effective. The apichi is applied sprayed, preferably in the late afternoon when the light is no longer on the plant. It is a very powerful product and you have to dilute it a lot.
ivy fermented extract
Another very useful preparation against whiteflies, red spiders or aphids is the fermented extract or ivy slurry. It is very easy to prepare and has the advantage of being able to be stored for a long time before losing its properties. To do this, you have to mix 1 kg of chopped ivy stems and leaves with 10 liters of water, stir it for five minutes every day for two weeks, which is the average time needed for fermentation to occur; do not stop stirring any day because if it remains static and does not oxygenate it rots. Once the ivy slurry is ready, you just have to spray it on the plants to eliminate whiteflies or any other pest, or even use it from time to time to prevent them.
Other methods against whitefly
For larger or professional crops, it is also common to resort to tools such as, for example, the introduction of natural predators, such as the encarsia formosa or the ladybug. In this other EcologíaVerde article we talk about Biological Pest Control: what it is, advantages, disadvantages and examples. Apart from this natural method, the yellow chromatic traps, a color to which the fly feels special attraction, are also very easy to make and useful.
You can discover more options in this other post on How to make natural insecticides for plants.
How to prevent whitefly
As always, prevention is the best option when faced with the threat of all kinds of pests. In the case of whitefly, there are some universal measures that can help you keep this insect away from your plants:
- Water your plants properly and continuously. Continuous irrigation that does not cause waterlogging or allow the soil to dry out regularly will help keep your crop clean of pests. To do this, you can try using the drip irrigation system. In this other article we explain how to make a drip irrigation system.
- Always remove weeds and plant debris from both the soil and the plants themselves. Having the land full of decomposing stems or leaves is synonymous with problems, since it is perfect for pests and diseases, such as fungi, to develop.
- Avoid monoculture as much as possible, since it is very weak against all kinds of pests and diseases.
- Ants protect whiteflies, so it’s a good idea to keep their numbers in check or avoid them altogether.
- Finally, an abundant population of ladybugs or lacewings it is a guarantee that the whitefly population will not skyrocket.
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