What WORKS best on whiteflies??

woohoomanAugust 6, 2012

I've tried neem oil, alcohol, and homemade insecticidal soap.

10 minutes (or even 2 days) later I'll shake my tomato plants and there's just as many flying around afterwards as there were before the treatment. Are there any good homemade remedies for these things? I believe they're the cause of diseases that I've been plagued with for years.

My plants will be going great and then in the middle of the season, the leaves start to bronze, then brown, then they take a crap.

All feedback is welcome. Thanks.


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IME, 95% of all whitefly spraying is done by home gardeners on the top of the leaves and the vast majority of the whitefly colonies are on the bottom side. K-based insecticdal soap is all I use, but I lie on the ground with sunglasses and a bandanna and spray upwards, which sucks, but works for me. I typically come back and rinse the whole plant with a fine spray of water afterwards, above and below, as the soap's work is done quickly and I don't like the residues.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 1:39AM
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Understanding Whiteflies helps control them. Since Whiteflies are not much affected by most insecticides spraying them around does little except kill off Whitefly predators. While Insecticidal Soaps, Neem Oil products, and one or two others are somewhat helpful they do need to be used at the right time in the Whiteflies life.

Here is a link that might be useful: About Whiteflies

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 6:04AM
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dicot: K-based??? potassium?? Do you have a recipe for a homemade one? Or the name of a market brand?

kimmer: link doesn't work.



    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 3:28PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Commercial insecticidal soaps are potassium salts of fatty acids. I think that the commercial stuff works better than the home-made. Plus, I'm a firm believer in having a real label to read.

It is necessary that this product be applied to the underside of the leaves...or don't even bother. Something else that can make a huge difference in the efficacy of your solution is the pH of the water. Lowering the pH with a tad of vinegar can be truly helpful.

Add it to your neem, too. Just a couple of teaspoons of vinegar per gallon is sufficient.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 7:33PM
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Thanks for the tip rhizo_1--- I'll try that. Underside of the leaves isn't a problem. I use a hose-end sprayer just to ensure it. I go through product like crazy, but I do make sure the whole plant is dripping.

How about adding a potassium tablet to my homemade soap?? Think that might help also?


    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 7:50PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

No to the potassium tablet. Insecticidal soaps are simply a soap, a true soap. Are you familiar with any organic line of soaps for people? Dr. Bonner's is a famous one. So is Murphy's Oil Soap. Both have additives that I don't like to use on plants, however. Potassium salts of fatty acids are their primary ingredient. Adding a potassium tablet will not do anything to improve the quality of the soap.

I hate to see a hose end sprayer used for pesticides, even insecticidal soaps. My pump sprayer has a long wand and an adjustable nozzle that deflects the spray UP when I hold the wand down. It would use a fraction of product...which, after all, is a broad spectrum pesticide. Something to think about.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 10:39PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

The bronzing mid-season may be due to tomato rust mites.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 2:18AM
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Why not castile or murphy's?? Everything that I've read regarding insecticidal soaps suggest those or Ivory.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 2:19AM
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The link worked for me, although somewhat slow.
You can use Castile soaps, Ivory, Murphys, Fels Naptha. or any other soap. Just don't use detergents which are made from petroleum byproducts.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 11:36AM
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That's what somebody else mentioned-- only she said "russet" mites. She also said use garden sulfur for them, which I did. But then I read on the package not to use within 2 weeks of an oil-based treatment(i.e., neem and the murphy's). Well, that kind of screws up the treatment for aphids and whiteflies. I did the whole ladybug thing earlier in the season, but I haven't seen one of those since shortly after releasing them.

Doing the organic pest control thing is getting very frustrating. I try to do all the right things, but I'm losing the battle.

Any homemade remedies that work for rust(russet) mites?



    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 5:22PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Those soaps all have additives that are unnecessary in pest control...and there is no label. How much per quart, gallon? Can you spray your solution on flowers? What about time of day or temperature restrictions? Is your water hard? Which plants can be damaged by soap applications?

By the way, Murphy's Oil soap has no more oil in it than any other real soap...they all use some sort of vegetable or animal fat...it's a MUST for making soap. Murphy's does not provide any 'oil' benefits whatsoever...that's just a myth so that it sounds good for wood floors and furniture. Great advertising, huh? One of the additives is polypropolene glycol, probably to make it viscous.

All insecticidal soaps (commercial or home brewed) should be mixed with other ingredients only after research has been done. There are a lot of tank mixes that are terrific, but sulfur combinations can be touchy.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 10:55PM
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I know everyone is talking liquids to apply to the plants and it might be too late in the season for this but next spring try raising some praying mantis's from eggs. I had 2 pepper plants being ruined by whiteflies and 1 day I noticed each plant had their own mantis, and within a week they each had the flies and aphids
under control. Makes it so I do a lot less work! And I was starting to consider
using a non-organic pesticide because I was getting so frustrated, thank goodness I didn't!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 3:58PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Praying mantids are politely escorted from my property. I've seen them nab way too many butterflies, bees, wasps, and other beneficial insects for me to want to keep them around.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 10:38PM
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grow beneficial attracting (wasps, beetles) plants.
hand vacuum.
insecticidal soap, alcohol, garlic oil, neem sprays- some water spray for inter weekly spray.
last ditch- pyrethrins

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 10:47AM
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david52 Zone 6

I've had good luck with dormant oil spray, mixed the same way one would spray fruit trees, which drowns/destroys the disc stage.

But thats here, where my infestations are in the greenhouse, and I just mix up a big tub of diluted spray and I dip my plants in it.

I'd hesitate to use it out in the sun on green vegetation.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 7:05PM
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Does anyone have any success with spraying for whiteflies on palm trees? tru-green wants $700 to treat my trees (injections) and I can't afford this right now----------HELP!!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 3:12PM
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The problem with spraying for white flies is they fly off the plant if someone looks at them wrong...and spraying only works if you make contact with the white flies.

That said, $700 for an injection systemic pesticide treatment is an insanely high price for what's most likely an imidacloprid + abamectin mixture...unless they're treating dozens of trees or something. (and yes, this isn't organic, but that's most of what's injected in this manner).

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 3:19PM
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I've recently read about fish emulsion being a great fertilizer and a good pesticide. It's suppose to be a great deterrent for slugs too.

I bought a bottle to use as a fertilizer to use for the soil and to spray on my plants, vegetables, herbs and melons. But when I woke up to find my new eggplants looking like someone mangled up the leaves I realized I had culprits lingering under the leaves..I went as far as bathing every one of my edible plant leaves..I even tried using a soft paint brush and brushing that d-fossil powder under all of the leaves of my edible plants, but then it rained.

So after the rain, I decided to spray all of my plants with a diluted bottle of the fish emulsion, after reading that those critters and pests are repelled from the smell..I also sprayed my gardenia bush that had white flies on it and those flies acted like they couldn't stand the smell either..As far as slugs, I saw a slug going after my veggies, and I even sprayed it too, and it shriveled upâ¦..

Well, from what I've read about the fish emulsion stuff, it seems to do a lot more than feed your plants and better the soilâ¦â¦.I guess I will see how it goes after today. I hope it works, bc I really don't want to have to use chemicals or detergents on things that I eat. I however am going to try the garlic spray after I get through this experiment/experience.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 11:11PM
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I have not known fish emulsions to be worthwhile as pesticides, the times I have used them they seem to attract a lot of insects to the plants.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 7:00AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Quite a bit of attention has been focused on the benefits of FE as a method of controlling whitefly and spider mites on indoor plants. It seems most popular with those who grow citrus in containers.

My theory is that the oil in the FE is what makes it work. If so, any application would need to be directed to the underside of the foliage. It may very well have repellent qualities, though.

I confess that though I do like to use it on young vegetables as a foliar fertilizer, I've not given the FE credit for my relatively pest free plants. Maybe I should rethink its effects. Hmmmm.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 8:00AM
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Rhizo..I checked my plants today..They looked so much greener..healthier, and "cleaner"..Looked at the undersides of my veggies and melons and they were pretty clean so I resprayed them with the FE just to keep up the awesome results.

I looked at my rose bushes, and they had more leaves on them, which were dark green..(read that it also helps with diseases too. Black spots and fungus is common in my area for roses) So I went around my yard and sprayed all the branches, barks, and limbs of my ornamental and fruit trees, along with bushes.

Last year I had to pick slugs off of my plants..Not one in sight this year except for that one I sprayed with the FE as an experiment. I think they can smell the stuff on my plants and just stay far away..So this year I won't have to worry about putting beer wells out and having drunk frogs in my garden.

I think I wasted my money on the DE (fossil powder stuff) I have a huge bag of it now just sitting in a can in my garage. Can't think of a reason to need DE now that the FE seems to take care of a lot of worries.

For those who haven't used FE before and want to try it....Be sure to watch which way the wind blows before you spray..lol I don't think you want to smell like this stuff.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 11:38PM
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Two weeks after using fish emulsion on my potted ficus trees they came down with a massive whitefly infestation. The trees were doing fine prior to using this fertilizer.

Is this my imagination or did this fish fertilizer attract them?
I'm losing my beautiful trees to this pest even after spraying them with neem oil.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 12:17PM
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Whiteflies have and are developing immunities to the most common pesticides used to try and control them. There is some evidence that a nutrient imbalance might make plants more attractive to insect pests, so spraying with fish fertilizer may well have made those trees an attraction for them.

Here is a link that might be useful: About Whiteflies

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 6:08AM
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Many nurseries will sell ladybugs which I believe eat whiteflies and aphids. I've heard to release them at night and they will stay around in your yard.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 9:30PM
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Far better than spending money on Lady Beetles that may not stay around your garden very long would be making an insectary that would attract many beneficials. Also not spraying poisons that will kill beneficials as well as pests can be of great value.

Here is a link that might be useful: making an insectary

    Bookmark   October 4, 2013 at 6:11AM
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Nicotine Sulfate (derived from tobacco) works well on white flies, and it is an organicly approved compound, if I remember correctly. Use it in conjunction with Fels Naphtha soap. Some people have claimed success with soaking tabacco in water and applying that. I've never tried it, so can't say if this is true.

Here is a link that might be useful: Alan Chadwick

    Bookmark   October 4, 2013 at 8:19PM
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Nicotine Sulfate may be organic, but it's a widespread killer of a massive amount of beneficials...as well as toxic to birds and animals. It's also not certified organic because of how toxic it is to a wide amount of creatures.

It's been deregistered, btw. While you can make it on your own, it won't be available for sale after this January. There's very few companies left that still produce it anyway.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2013 at 8:33PM
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I can say for sure, that two things definitely do work with whiteflies.

1. Plain old blue dawn dish soap and water. Soapy enough that when you spray your fingers, they feel soapy.

2. A screaming bright yellow section of poster board covered in tanglefoot goo. 12x12 inches or bigger if you want.

I had an infestation on some indoor plants that had previously spent some time outside in the summer.

Brought them in and noticed the plant in decline. Tapped it and poof, whiteflies all over.

Into the small bathroom tub they went. Got the yellow poster board up with tanglefoot. Bright light on it. Tapped the plants..poof..whiteflies off the plant and immediately go to the yellow posterboard....stuck. Gotcha.

If you wear a bright yellow or fluorescent yellow shirt and do the same thing, they will fly off the plant onto your shirt. So don't wear yellow shirts.

So that takes care of some of the buggers that fly off. The soap spray on the undersides of all the leaves takes care of any more crawling around.

Now the eggs are a different matter. Seemingly less affected by soap. And the soapy water dries fairly quickly.

The eggs can continue hatching for 12 days. So you pretty much have to spray it EVERY day at the same time, for 12 consecutive days. Once the buggers are crawling about, they can be zapped with the soapy water. And since you do not know at what point they are going to hatch, you have to do the full 12 days.

And one last thing purported to help, is putting bat guano around the base of the plants.

How do I know the soap and bright yellow poster board works? Because the only thing I was dealing with was whiteflies indoors in the bathtub.

One pest, one mission. Mission accomplished. No more flies.

If it is a small enough plant, you could just take it out of the container, wash the soil off the roots, and dunk the entire plant in soapy water for a few seconds. Put it in a hydroponic bucket with aerated water for the 12 day period. Plant light on it. Dunk each day. Then back to the hydro bucket. Then rinse off completely at day 13 and repot in new sterile soil and sterile pot.

But it would have to be a special plant for you to go to all that trouble.

And I also notice, even though I had plenty of other indoor plants, they only preferred the one. Everything else they left alone.

Now outdoors is a whole different beast.

One helpful tip:

Plant marigolds in with your tomatoes or other plants. Whiteflies do not like something about those flowers. It acts as a repellant. Personally the smell of marigolds repels me too.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 1:20PM
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Nicotene sulfate is not now, and has not been for years, an acceptable organic insect control method. Nicotene sulfate is a very broad spectrum poison with long lasting affects.
The best method of controlling an insect pest is to learn and understand the conditions they need to live and eliminate those that you can and, mostly, make the soil your plants grow in good and healthy sot he plants grow up strong and healthy and are better able to withstand an attack by those insect pests.

Here is a link that might be useful: About Whiteflies

    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 6:20AM
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We have been overrun with whiteflies for several years now. This year I haven't seen any. Are the cyclable like cicada's? Or are they late this year. I really shouldn't be complaining. Very annoying pest.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2014 at 1:01PM
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Conch, whenever the subject of whitefly is discussed seldom mentioned is the known fact that whitefly needs a host plant to reproduce. Some further research using "whitefly host plants in Florida" should help you understand the situation.

Probably the reason you are not seeing whitefly this year is because you (or a close neighbor) are not growing some plants in your yards which in previous years were whitefly host plants. It is a complicated subject. Do some searching on the subject.

BTW, I am whitefly free at the moment so have not been able to trial the following. A recent Science Daily article indicates that the odor of cucumber repels whitefly. Time to cross our fingers and experiment! For my first trial test I would put 1/2 of a large cucumber in a food processor with 3 cups of filtered water. Process to mush and refrigerate all overnight. Put through strainer and then an additional straining through a coffee filter. Pour full strength into hose end sprayer, set dial for 1 tablespoon per gallon and spray a whitefly infected plant. Just one plant. Observe results, if any. If there is no harm to plant and treatment does not appear to work after 12 hours increase the dial setting dosage and try again. To really test this idea I would not add a surfactant (soap) to this mix. Let's just work with the cucumber liquid by itself. Hopefully we will have some interesting reports from those of you who like play with organic ideas.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2014 at 3:42PM
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I read earlier that I could use 1 TBS Murphy's oil per gallon water for white flies. Removed lantana. Sprayed the remaining pentas. Sprayed bed with alcohol/water. Replanted. White flies are back. Does the soap solution kill the pentas flowers as well?

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 10:33AM
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I use a multi-pronged approach. I allow the weeds to grow around tall vegetable plants, cutting them shorter if necessary. This creates an ecosystem that seems very beneficial to production and general health of the vegetable plants (although not as neat looking as some may care for). The weeds encourage beneficial insects and shades the soil below, provides a barrier to animals and protects the vegetables from disease spores by the same barrier). I pick off any yellowing leaves, which attract the flies. I don't get whiteflies anymore this way. But if I did, I would take my DustBuster vacuum to them everyday, following up with the soap and water and yellow sticky traps recommended above.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 2:55PM
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When worked in greenhouses we used yellow, plastic boards coated with a very sticky stuff. the whitefly adults were attracted to the boards, land and get stuck for good, worked pretty well. Outdoors you might end up catching lots of critters that would be best left to live, don't know.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2014 at 9:07AM
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Has anyone tried delphastus pusillus? They are small beetles that reportedly eat 150-600 whitefly eggs/day, and seem to be the main predator in all the literature. They are however, realllllly expensive, like $1-$2 each.

Given my one-time experience with buying ladybugs (release, watch them fly away over a couple of days), I'm not ready to repeat that at a buck a bug. On the other hand, I could imagine that if I put a few of these onto really laden plants and they were surrounded by food, they would stick around and eat.

Same question with the parasitic wasps, which are a lot cheaper.

I'm going to check out the link above about an insectary, but would love to know if anyone has had experience with purchased delphastus or wasps.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2014 at 1:25PM
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