The Q&A Archives: Whiteflies on Hibiscus

Question: What is the recipe for eradicating whiteflies. I've heard of one that consists of alcohol, soap and something else besides water, but don't know proportions, or the third ingredient.

Answer: Whiteflies can be a terrible problem on plants. The tender leaves of hibiscus can be damaged by an application of alcohol, soap and oil, so I'd caution against the use of such homemade insecticides. You can make a sticky trap to attract and kill whiteflies. Take a bright yellow piece of cardboard (or paint an index card bright yellow) and smear it with petroleum jelly or 'Tanglefoot'. Mount the card at foliage level. Whiteflies will be attracted to the yellow color and when they land, they'll get hopelessly stuck. Before putting the trap in the plant, hose off or wash the leaves well to dislodge both adults and their eggs. Pay special attention to the undersides of leaves and the stems of the plants. If all else fails, use a permethrin based houseplant insecticide. Whiteflies are very difficult to eradicate.

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