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The most common and perhaps the most difficult whitefly species to control around the world are the Glasshouse Whitefly (Trialeurodes vaporariorum) and the Tobacco Whitefly (Bemisia tabaci), although the Tobacco Whitefly is only found in the warmer regions of the world. Both of these whiteflies can transmit plant viruses.

Appearance and effect

Adult whiteflies are small, flying insect pests that resemble tiny white moths. They are usually about 1 or 2 millimetres in length and can be found feeding and laying eggs on the younger leaves of many different plant species including tomatoes and cucumbers. Whitefly feed on plant sap through a long tube-like mouth piece. Excess sap and waste products are excreted as honeydew, on to the plant leaves. Honeydew contains sugars which soon become contaminated with black sooty moulds that grow over the leaves producing unhealthy and unsightly plants. The larvae of whitefly are often confused with scale insects since they look very similar. Once they hatch from the eggs they crawl across the leaves to find a suitable place to feed then shed their skins.

During this skin shed, the larvae lose their legs and remain motionless, feeding on plant sap for around 4 weeks. During this time the infested plant continues to grow, resulting in the larvae being found on the older, lower leaves of a plant by the time they are ready to pupate. Other whitefly species that can be a problem include the Strawberry Whitefly, the Cabbage Whitefly, the Vibernum Whitefly, the Citrus Whitefly and the Spiralling Whitefly. There are many systemic and contact insecticide on the market to deal with whitefly, we recommend SB Plant Invigorator because:

  • It is highly effective at controlling whitefly
  • It is non toxic and suitable for use throughout the year
  • There is no harvest interval and the product is very safe
  • Resistance to SBPI will not occur due to its physical mode of action

Independent research studies have shown that SB Plant Invigorator (SBPI) is highly effective at controlling whiteflies if used correctly. Almost total control of adult whiteflies can be achieved after just one application of SBPI if the infested leaves are treated thoroughly. The treatment also needs to be applied to the point it runs off the leaves. SBPI causes adult whiteflies to stick to leaves and other surfaces that they land on, although the plants and treated surfaces do not become sticky themselves.

When the treatment has dried, the affected whiteflies remain stuck and die. The larval stages of whiteflies are also controlled by SBPI but in a different way to the adults. Again, a thorough application of the product to the infested areas of the plant is essential since only the larvae that are treated with SBPI will be controlled. It is often the case that whitefly pupae and eggs are harder to control compared to the other life stages.

This is also the case with SBPI. Therefore, to ensure that effective and sustained whitefly control is achieved, re-applications of SBPI are recommended at weekly or fortnightly intervals. This will not only ensure that newly hatched adults and larvae are controlled but also any new whiteflies that may have flown on to the plants. SBPI does not affect whitefly pupae or friendly parasitic wasps.

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