white flies? Don't think so. Help please.

shenue(z7 MD)October 11, 2007

I have a Borneo Giant elephant ear, potted, and it has been kept on a screened in porch. This Summer I have had problems with what I thought, at first, might be white flies, but they aren't. They are extremely tiny, a good deal smaller than the size of the head of a pin. Not much more than specs. They are pure, pure white. They are so tiny I can't even make out where the head end is (or for that matter, if they even have one. lol. They can fly but I never see them flying unless I touch one and then it only flies long enough to go from the underside of one leaf to another. I have seen white flies before and white flies are a fair amount larger than these things. I have sprayed with an insecticide several times throughout the Summer but they keep coming back. I have squished them one at a time also but they were back again this morning. Today I sprayed again with an insecticide. The Borneo Giant doesn't seem to like insecticides though. Each time I have used it, the plant seems to droop some and the growth stops until it recovers several weeks later. It is time for me to move the plant indoors and I don't want to bring these pests into the house and infect my other plants. Does anyone have any thoughts on what these things are and what I can do to finally get rid of them?

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I think they may be a type of white fly.

They usually show up on my plants when the plants are stressed and weakened in some way.

I haven't treated them with anything but insecticidal soap.

I have heard of people having success by using tape(preferably double sided tape) and just tapping the plant to cause the flies to fly onto the tape. I have tried this and it does seem to help a little.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 5:12PM
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Below is a direct quote from another forum I belong to.

This is not my personal experience, just a direct quote form somebody else's experiences.

This sounds better than insecticidal soap to me. Even though insecticidal soap is generally considered safe for indoor use.

I hope this helps some.


""""""""Try Orange oil in slight concentrations with a small amount of soap added. I use Zep Citrus cleaner & degreaser concentrate @ Home Depot . gallon jug $8.00 lasts for a years ( no need for soap with this product) as it has a surfacent in it .. use 50/25 to one in a spray bottle , I have even sprayed Orchid blooms with the stuff to kill mealies with no damage at all to the blooms .IÂve used it in a garden sprayer to spray every plant in my greenhouse to kill off all the white fly at once  kills on contact . dissolves the exoskeleton of insects instantly even in slight concentrations . Here in California they are now using it for termite control . Best part itÂs Non-toxic in the deluded form . best ant killer IÂve ever found .. flood a pot infected with a nest of ants, no harm at all to the plant, ants/queens are history in short order THE BEST PART ! Smells great . the greenhouse smells like oranges after IÂm done  """""

    Bookmark   October 12, 2007 at 6:59PM
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shenue(z7 MD)

Thank you, araceaelover, for your responses to my question. I'm going to try the Zep. I do have a question though. hmmm what do you think the 50/25 means. If it is 50% water; 25% zep...what is the other 25%? Or...am I simply misunderstanding? What do you think, John?



    Bookmark   October 13, 2007 at 7:10AM
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I was thinking the same thing myself, I am not really sure. Maybe they were talking about 50 percent zep 50 water for one type of problem and then 25 percent zep 75 water for another type.
Your guess is as good as mine Linda.

I guess it couldn't hurt to try the weaker concentration first and see if that helps. You would think that the results should be known immediately.


    Bookmark   October 13, 2007 at 10:23PM
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shenue(z7 MD)

Yeah, I just don't know either. They said in 'slight' concentrations. And the zep is concentrated. So maybe it is actually 50 parts water to 1 part zep for one and perhaps 25 water to one part zep for another concentrate. 50/50 seems like a strong mix since the zep is quite concentrated to begin with. Oh shoot, I don't know, but I'm going to give it a try if/when the flies show up again. I'll start with a very diluted mix and take it from there. For now the "flies" are gone...again. I used some Safer Soap first and then washed all the leaves and stems with a weak solution of dish det. and water...then brought the plant inside. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the flies didn't come in with the EE. It looked very clean when I brought it in a couple days ago. So far, so good. No signs of the flies yet. Over the Summer I had used the insecticide and the Safer Soap but the darn flies would always return in a few days. Ah well, time will tell. :)
Thanks for your responses, John.


    Bookmark   October 14, 2007 at 10:34AM
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I guess you have had the unusually warm Oct. temps we had our way( Near Philadelphia, Pa. )

It has been unusually dry and warm here since late Aug-early Sept.

This has stressed some plants and caused white fly problems for me too.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 6:10PM
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shenue(z7 MD)

Yep araceaelover, it's been very warm here too. Here it is the 23rd of October and it was close to 80 here yesterday, I belive. I've had the 'white flies' for a few months. But whatever the cause, it seems...seems...like it is gone now. I say 'seems' because I have thought before that they were gone and they made a comeback. I didn't get the orange stuff yet but between the Safer soap, the insecticide and killing the flies, one by one on each leaf, and washing the leaves, I haven't seen any of them in a couple weeks now. yeay I'm keeping my fingers crossed, of course. I brought the two EE's inside a week or so ago and haven't seen any of the 'flies' since then. It was the Borneo Giant with the 'white fly' problem. I again sprayed the plant with the Safer soap the day before bringing it in and then when I brought it in, I made sure there were no visible flies and also washed the leaves (front and back) and the stems with a week solution of water and dish det. So far, so good.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 6:56AM
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rredbbeard(SE CT USA/zone 6)

I used a dilute spray of synthetic pyrethrin on a fungus gnat problem, and it worked fine! For soil application, I sprayed a little into a cup of water, and applied it to the affected plants, no problem. Pyrethrin should take care of the white flies too, I think...


    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 6:54AM
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bihai(zone 9)

I noticed bottles of Orange Oil in the pesticide dept at Target the last time I was there. I am sure there are dilution directions on the bottle. I am thinking of testing it on spidermites, Orange Oil vs Kelthane. I like to use organic when I can. Just waiting for a spidermite infestation now, LOL (just kidding)

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 7:24AM
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I have heard of neem oil, a natural pesticide.

I will be doing some research about growing this plant myself for future use inside and out.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 7:14PM
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sandy0225(z5 Indiana)

Sounds like whiteflies to me. That's the way they behave when they are cooler. They then won't fly unless you mess with them.
Another way to get rid of them is to rustle the plants and suck them up with a vacuum cleaner. Then after that--
I use a mix of 1/3 cup cooking oil, and 2T dish detergent, shake that up real good and then put 1T into a gallon of warm water, shake that up real good. Spray your plants, especially the back side of the leaves to smother the baby ones. Shake the spray bottle occasionally while spraying to keep it mixed up and don't use this in full sun or over 90 degree temps.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 7:10AM
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Thanks for the tip Sandy.

Sounds like a good formula.

Very safe for indoor use. I especially like the vacuum cleaner to suck up the pests.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 7:46PM
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