The Q&A Archives: White Flies

Question: My neighbor has a terrible white fly infestation of his gardenias. I have noticed them migrating over to some of my hanging baskets (petunias & wave petunias). What is the best way to combat his problems becoming mine?

Answer: White flies are extremely difficult to eradicate so let's hope they don't make a home in your garden! Insecticidal soap, sprayed on infested plants will usually reduce or eliminate the population, but the spray must be repeated and you need to take great care in covering both upper and undersides of the leaves. Spraying first thing in the morning when the pests are resting will help you get most of them. Some plants are sensitive to Insecticidal Soap so you may need to rinse the product off your plants after 10-15 minutes. As for keeping them from your hanging baskets, you can try setting up temporary traps. Yellow sticky traps are available at garden centers or you can make your own by coating cardboard or index cards with yellow paint and smearing them with vaseline or TangleFoot (available at garden centers). Attach the cards to popsicle sticks or twigs or use paperclips to attach them to stakes and set them in among your plants. The yellow color will attract the pests and the sticky coating on the cards will trap them.

Best wishes with your garden!

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