The Q&A Archives: White Flies

Question: We live for 9 months a year in the Caribbean, the Turks and Caicos Islands. My problem is pests, but the one I cannot seem to control is the white fly. Nothing I do seems to stop the problem and if I don't spray something every four days, I get another outcrop of flies more fierce than the first batch. They particularly destroy squash, pumpkin, and melon crops. What should I be doing?

Answer: There are a number of biological controls that you can try to get rid of white flies. There are several natural enemies that you can purchase to help control the white fly population.

Encarsia formosa is a predacious wasp that is released to control white flies. The wasps are available through: American Insectaries, Escondido, (619) 751-1436, Applied Bio-Control, (209) 874-1862, and Beneficial Insectary, (800) 477-3715.

Or, you might want to try releasing lacewings or minute pirate bugs, both available through the above suppliers.

Other control methods include yellow sticky traps - basically cardboard painted bright yellow and coated with mineral oil or petroleum jelly, and suspended near the tops of plants. Insecticidal soaps work well against white flies, too. Just be sure to spray both top and undersides of leaves. Insecticidal soaps can cause burning of leaves if applied during hot weather, so use caution.

Good luck in getting rid of those pesky pests!

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