Get Rid of White Flies on Houseplants

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Whether you’re an amateur or professional gardener, it’s vital to know how to get rid of white flies. White flies feed on juices from your indoor plants and can cause them to turn yellow and drop prematurely. Once white flies multiply, they might transfer to other healthy plants, eventually killing your indoor garden.

White flies are a common problem in many indoor gardens, but there are many ways to protect yours. Read on for ways to get rid of whiteflies to keep your indoor garden healthy and thriving.

What Are White Flies?

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Before knowing how to get rid of white flies on houseplants, it’s essential to understand what they are. The more you know about whiteflies, the easier it’ll be for you to identify them and treat the problem.

Despite their name, white flies aren’t a type of fly. Instead, whiteflies are winged, soft-bodied insects related to mealybugs and aphids. Their appearance is moth-like and triangular, and they are typically around 1/12 to 1/16 inches in size when fully grown.

White flies often form a large cluster on the undersides of leaves but can also attack stems and flowers. In addition, these insects are active during the day, and disturbing them will cause them to scatter around the plant.

Although white flies thrive better outdoors in warm and muggy weather, this doesn’t mean your indoor garden is safe. Houseplants with soft and smooth leaves are susceptible to whiteflies. They also attack sweet potatoes, citruses, and peppers.

What Causes White Flies?

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A white fly infestation can occur for many reasons. Knowing these causes may help you get rid of whiteflies permanently.

The common causes of white fly infestation in indoor gardens are:

1. Drought

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Plants, when not watered regularly and properly, can experience water stress. Besides preventing plants from getting nutrients, water stress also attracts whiteflies. If you live in dry or hot areas, there’s a good chance your plants are dehydrated.

Water stress can encourage the growth of pests like whiteflies. This pest growth happens because higher temperatures create a suitable environment for whiteflies to live and reproduce. Dry conditions can also keep whiteflies active and encourage them to feed on more plants.

2. Overuse of Insecticides to Get Rid of White Flies

get rid of white flies - Insecticides

Insecticides can prevent the spread of certain diseases in your indoor garden, but overuse can have adverse effects. In fact, overusing insecticides can encourage the growth of whiteflies because it can kill their predator species. 

Insects like spiders and ladybug beetles are natural enemies of whiteflies. These insects help exterminate whiteflies in your indoor garden by preying on them. However, heavy reliance on insecticides will kill these insects in your garden, eliminating the natural predators of whiteflies.

3. Excessive Use of Nitrogen Fertilizer

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Too much of anything is bad — and this includes the use of nitrogen fertilizer. Nitrogen fertilizers support the rapid growth of your plants, but using too much can attract white flies.

According to studies, excessive use of nitrogen fertilizers can cause a higher nitrogen concentration in plant tissues. Therefore, plants with higher levels of nitrogen are more attractive to white flies. Moreover, excessive use of nitrogen fertilizers can also prompt white flies to reproduce faster.

What Are the Common Signs of White Flies in an Indoor Garden?

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Your ability to get rid of white flies will depend on how early you detect them in your indoor garden. The sooner you detect these insects, the easier it’ll be for you to get rid of them completely. So if you notice any of the signs below, act immediately.

One of the most common signs of white flies in an indoor garden is damaged plants. Whiteflies feed on the fluids of your plants, causing the leaves to turn yellow and wilt. Unfortunately, this feeding also weakens the entirety of your plants, resulting in premature death.

Another sign of white flies in your indoor garden is the appearance of honeydew. Honeydew is a sticky or shiny substance that may resemble morning dew drops on leaves. White flies cannot completely digest the sap it has sucked, excreting the excess in the form of honeydew.

When left untreated, honeydew can also attract ants that can protect whiteflies from their natural predators. Unfortunately, it can also encourage fungus and mold growth, which can further harm your plant.

If you notice either of these symptoms, look for treatment to get rid of white flies right away.

How Can You Get Rid Of White Flies on Houseplants?

White flies may look harmless and unassuming, but they can cause irreparable damage to your indoor garden. It is best practice to check any new plants for whiteflies before bringing them into your home. However, they sometimes cannot be avoided.

Fortunately, there are many ways to get rid of white flies from your houseplants. If you follow these tips correctly, you can have a healthy and thriving indoor garden, free from whiteflies:

1. Dislodge Them Using a Hose

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White flies usually form a cluster on the undersides of your plant’s leaves. This area is often damp and dark, creating an ideal environment for whiteflies to reproduce.

One of the easiest ways to get rid of white flies is to use a hose. Using a hose can effectively dislodge eggs, larvae, and even fully grown whiteflies from the leaves. Make sure that you’re doing this outdoors to prevent the insects from transferring to another plant.

Don’t forget to pay attention to the pressure of the hose as well. Using too much pressure can damage the leaves of your plants.

2. Use a Vacuum to Get Rid of White Flies

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One female whitefly can produce 400 eggs. So, you should immediately remove eggs from your indoor garden to prevent a full infestation. Aside from using a hose, you can also achieve this goal with your vacuum.

Use the handheld attachment of your vacuum cleaner and set it to a low suction setting. Use it to suck the underside of your leaves every two to three days to collect eggs, larvae, and adults. Your vacuum can be powerful, so make sure to put it in the right setting when using it.

Once done, empty your vacuum outdoors, away from your indoor garden.

3. Use Yellow Sticky Traps

get rid of white flies - yellow sticky traps

Another way to get rid of white flies from your houseplants is to use yellow sticky traps. Choosing yellow ones is essential, as this color looks like foliage to white flies. Product labels usually indicate its use for gnats, but they are also effective for whiteflies. You can buy ready-made yellow sticky traps in many online and hardware stores.

If you want to DIY your own sticky traps, use yellow index cards and petroleum jelly. Simply coat or dip yellow index cards in petroleum jelly and set up the trap.

In either case, place your yellow sticky traps in different locations in your indoor garden. You can place these sticky traps permanently in your indoor garden to prevent whiteflies from coming back.

As this only eliminates adult white flies, don’t forget to remove white fly eggs on leaf undersides.

4. Make DIY Sprays to Get Rid of White Flies

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get rid of white flies from your indoor garden. Some of the most effective solutions to this problem only require ingredients found in your home.

Aside from being inexpensive and effective, DIY sprays are also healthy for your plants. These don’t contain any harsh chemicals that can block photosynthesis and hamper the growth of your plants.

Here are some DIY sprays you can make to get rid of whiteflies:

Dish soap:

Combine eight drops of dish soap with one liter of warm water. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and mix thoroughly. Next, spray on the underside of the leaves and rinse using the same solution after a few minutes. The first spray aims to dislodge the eggs, while the second spray ensures the removal of dead insects.

To determine the proper ratio of this solution, apply it directly to the leaves and check after two days. If you notice any leaf damage, change the ratio by adding more water or less soap.

Vinegar:

You can also mix vinegar and water to get rid of white flies from your houseplants. Don’t forget to test the solution on one leaf and then adjust the mixture when necessary.

Neem oil:

Neem oil is another effective solution to get rid of whiteflies, although avoid using this on plants under direct sunlight. Simply mix one teaspoon of neem oil, one tablespoon of dish soap, and one liter of water. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and apply it on the underside of the leaves.

Like the dish soap and vinegar solutions, you must rinse the dead bugs off. You must also test the solution for the correct potency before treating your entire plant.

5. Prune And Treat

Once you see any eggs or white flies on the leaves of your plants, prune them immediately. Dispose of infected leaves properly and never use them as compost.

5 FAQs To Help You Get Rid Of Whiteflies

Houseplants are susceptible to white flies, which is why you should exert effort to identify and get rid of them immediately. Keeping one infected houseplant can eventually cause damage to all the healthy plants in your indoor garden.

To keep your indoor garden healthy, learn how you can get rid of white flies through the answers below.

There are many ways to get rid of whiteflies. You can use a hose or a vacuum to dislodge eggs and adult whiteflies from the leaves. Household products like vinegar, neem oil, and dish soap can also help get rid of whiteflies from your indoor garden.

You can also get rid of white flies by using yellow sticky traps as this color is attractive to insects. You can buy yellow sticky traps or make some using a yellow index card with petroleum jelly.

Houseplants with soft and smooth tissues are naturally attractive to whiteflies. Peppers, citruses, and sweet potatoes are also susceptible to white flies.

Two of the most common signs of whiteflies are damaged plants and the appearance of honeydew. White flies can start feeding on the leaves of your plants and can eventually cause plants to wilt and die. Whiteflies will also excrete honeydew as they cannot fully digest plant sap.

Seeing any of these signs in your indoor garden should prompt you to take action fast. Early detection is a vital step to get rid of whiteflies successfully.

There are many causes of whiteflies, and plants exposed to drought conditions or water stress are one. Higher temperatures encourage pests to reproduce, which is why you should never place your plants in a hot environment.

Other causes of whiteflies include the overuse of insecticides and nitrogen fertilizers. Insecticides can kill all insects in your indoor garden, including the natural predators of white flies. Nitrogen fertilizers can increase the nitrogen concentration in plant tissues, attracting whiteflies.

White flies are small, moth-like, soft-bodied insects related to mealybugs and aphids. They deplete a plant of its nutrients by feeding on its sap. When left untreated, these insects form a cluster and eventually also attack a plant’s stems and flowers.

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