Management of Real Estate Whiteflies Pros and Cons
- What are whiteflies and their damaging effects? They are small, winged insects that typically feed on the underside of leaves with their “needle-like” mouthparts. Whiteflies can seriously injure plants by sucking nutrients from the plant causing wilting, yellowing, stunting, leaf drop, or even death. It is recommended that ficus hedges be proactively treated as it is more cost effective versus the cost of hedge replacement if left untreated. A large whitefly infestation on palm tree leaves can leave behind excessive honeydew and sooty mold. This honeydew and sooty mold usually becomes sticky and turns black in color which usually results in a significant impact on the aesthetics of a affected properties and neighborhoods. At this time, experts are not concerned with whitefly infestation causing the death of palm trees.
There are more than 75 different species of whiteflies reported in Florida. There are currently three whiteflies that are of concern when it comes to landscape maintenance and they only thrive in tropical temperatures: Ficus Whitelfy, Rugose Spiraling Whitefly and Bondar’s Nesting Whitefly.
- Ficus whitefly – Found in south and central Florida normally along the coast line and are limited to where ficus grows.
- Rugose spiraling whitefly – Found in south Florida but research shows that they are moving north along the coast line. This whitefly appears to have a very broad host range from palms to woody ornamentals and fruits. The most common concerns are the Gumbo Limbo, Mango and Coconut Palm trees.
- What is the best recommended course of action to manage whiteflies? Monitor plants for early signs of an infestation because it will be easier to manage the pest before it builds to high populations and causes major damage. If you have an infestation on a tree, be sure to search nearby trees as well because whiteflies can often feed on many types of trees. There are several methods available to treat for whitefly.
- Ficus Hedge Treatment –Treat soil with a systemic insecticide. Method of application suggested is root drenching.
- Tree Treatment – Treat soil or trunk with a systemic insecticide. Method of application could be trunk spray, soil drenching, injection or granular.
There are Pros and Cons to each method of treatment. It is recommended that an arborist or a landscape professional who has completed whitefly training be consulted on the best method of treatment as there are several factors to consider when deciding to treat hedges and trees. Also note that individual homeowners can treat for whiteflies with marketed products available for sale to the public. Please see diagram below for a list of suggested foliar insecticides.
Source: University of Florida, IFAS
- Mannion, University of Florida, IFAS, Homestead, FL – 305-246-7000
Information compiled by Alex Vaughn, MBA with The Vaughn Real Estate Group Miami | Carrington Real Estate Services (US), LLC