The Q&A Archives: Hibiscus

Question: I have two tropical hibiscus trees, which have become infested with silverleaf whiteflies. What do you recommend for getting rid of these pests? It may be too late for one tree; it has lost most of its leaves. Each is in a large pot, kept inside during winter and outside during summer. The whiteflies congregate on the underside of each leaf, leaving a sticky residue and swarm about when disturbed.

Answer: Whiteflies are extremely difficult to control. Yellow sticky traps are effective, but you'll need to place several on or near each affected plant. You can spray insecticidal soap when whiteflies are resting - early morning or late afternoon is best. Or, you can spray with pyrethrin. Pyrethrin is an organic pesticide made from chrysanthemums. There are also chemical controls for whiteflies. The most important aspect of controlling these pests is to be diligent about spraying (follow label directions). Repeat sprays will take care of the adults, nymphs and eggs. These biocontrols won't harm beneficial insects. Best wishes with your whitefly eradication project!

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