The Q&A Archives: hibiscus small white bugs

Question: Hello:
I have several hibiscus plants I purchased about a month ago. They have had multiple buds and blossoms, but recently have become covered with bug egg like things that turn into the smallest of white flying insects. When I shake the branches they become air born. Please help me; they are multiplying by the day and I fear are killing my plants. How do I eliminate them?Thank you very much.

Answer: Your description sounds like it could be whiteflies, which are tiny, often on the undersides of leaves. If you tap the plant, they will rise up in a "flurry" of white. I always start with the simplest method first, and if that isn't successful, move on from there. A strong blast of water from the hose often works. Spray underneath leaves where they hang out. Do this daily if you notice insects. Whiteflies are attracted to the color yellow. You can purchase or make yellow "sticky" traps from yellow cardboard smeared with petroleum jelly. They fly to it and get stuck. Soapy water sprays are another possibility. Use 1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons of liquid detergent soap per gallon of water. Use regular, not concentrated soap. Don't use soaps with lemon, as the citric acid can burn plants. Start with the lower amount and work up as needed. Spray as often as needed. As with any spray you might wish to test it on a few leaves first before you treat all your plants. Spray early in the morning before the sun heats up. Next on my list would be an insecticidal soap spray. The insecticidal soaps are made from plant-derived fatty acids and target soft-bodied insects. I hope this information helps!

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