The Q&A Archives: Whitefly on Squash

Question: Recently I've noticed very small white bugs (arrow shaped) on the underside of my squash plants, when I touch the leaves they fly away but most of the leaves are infested with many bugs. The plants are doing well and I see no damage to the leaves but I would like to know what kind of bugs they are and how best to get rid of them without using too much chemicals.

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.

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