The Q&A Archives: Tiny White Insects All Over Killing Plants

Question: I just recently discovered very very small white bugs crawling all over my plants and killing everything they are on. They are not eggs they are actually moving around on the top and underside of leaves. There is such a huge amount the leaves look white. I thought it was something else but when I looked very close they were tiny. What are they and how do I keep them away?

Answer: It sounds like your plants are being attacked by whiteflies, which are about 1/16th of an inch long and fly on powdery white wings; characteristically they will fly away all at once when disturbed. They are sucking insects and lay their eggs on the undersides of the leaves. A light infestation will probably not hurt your plants, but they can multiply rapidly in warm weather and will attack many types of plants so you may wish to try to control them to some extent. You can hand pick any egg masses you find, then spray with insecticidal soap being sure to follow the label directions carefully. You will need to spray several times to control subsequent hatchings; be sure to cover the undersides of the leaves thoroughly. Another method of non-chemical control is to place yellow "sticky traps" at about the same height as the leaves. If the pests do not fly away when you touch them, they are aphids and insecticidal soap will do them in, as well.

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