How do I get rid of white fly?

kathleen4848(CA)August 13, 2004

Help! Any suggestions that really work to get rid of white flies from hibiscus? At this point, I don't care if it's a chemical, but if something else (soapy water?) works, let me know. Thanks!

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rjj1(Norman OK Zone7)

If you are want to use something safer than pesticides, soapy water will work. I use it sometimes when I need to spot treat small infestations.

The problem with soapy water is I donÂt think it will kill all stages of white fly, only the adult stage. That means you will need to treat the plant about every three or four days for a couple weeks to kill the two or three generations you might have on your plant.

I like to treat in the evening after the sun has gone down. It wonÂt burn the foliage that way and all your little friends have been tucked in for the night :-).

When I sold hibiscus, we used a very effective product that killed all stages of white fly called Naturalus T & O. ItÂs biological fungus (much safer than most pesticides) that attaches to the pest and sucks it dry. You gotta love that part :-). ItÂs very expensive though and something you would have to get from a wholesale distributor.


    Bookmark   August 13, 2004 at 12:05PM
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real simple but must do it every day for a while..use your garden hose and use strong spray on bush

    Bookmark   August 14, 2004 at 2:40PM
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soundgarden(z8/ New Orleans, La)

I use Ivory soap and when the bar gets down to a small chunk I put it in a sprayer bottle with water over night and then the next evening I spray really well. I did this with a gardenia and only had to spray once.
You know what else works great for white flys? Spider webs! I saw a bunch of webs in my gardenias the other day and the were FULL of white flies.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2004 at 11:30PM
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Neem oil. It's natural, the oil from a tree. I had white flies SO bad last year. I tried everything. Neem oil did the trick. Be sure to spray the soil, that's where they lay their eggs. Everytime I go to the nursery with a problem: pest, fungus, mold, etc. the answer is always Neem oil. I now start with this first. It almost makes the leaves shiny and beautiful.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2004 at 12:40PM
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I just got back from being away for a 4 day weekend and noticed a massive white fly outbreak on one of my Hibiscus as well...must be the season. Thank you for the tips.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2004 at 3:04PM
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1- head of garlic, crushed (not a clove, a whole head)
1 - gallon water
1- one gallon clear or translucent glass or plastic jar with a screw on lid
3 weeks of sunshine

Sit garlic and water in sun for 2-3 weeks. Strain out solids. Store garlic water in a cool dark place. Put 1 cup of garlic water in a 1 quart spray mister bottle. Fill spray bottle and add 1/4 teaspoon of dish washing liquid (Joy, Dove, Palmolive or Dawn which I prefer specifically for this purpose). Spray away. The white flies can't stand this stuff (neither will you). It is good for spidere mites, too.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2004 at 9:00PM
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Tsmith, are you killing white flies with all that garlic or Vampires!!!??? LOL!! Actually those little nasty things ARE vampires aren't they? Great tip. I'm gonna try it now :o)

    Bookmark   September 1, 2004 at 9:26PM
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Tried water-didn't work.
Tried oil-didn't work.
What next ?

    Bookmark   March 27, 2005 at 9:31PM
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rjj1(Norman OK Zone7)

There are are different stages of white fly on your plant.
You have to do the treatment on a regular basis until they are gone. Once or twice won't work.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2005 at 7:35AM
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bumblebees_mom(z9 Jax, FL)

Isotox. Our Lowes sells it. Not organic, and it smells nasty for a couple days, but it works and will last longer than any of the organic methods. Randy is right, you do have to keep repeating treatments. Isotox is only for outdoor use. I had a bad infestation last fall and I used isotox and the hibs have been overwintering indoors and I have not had them come back yet.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2005 at 10:12PM
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We don't use any of those things mentioned above BUT what we do use is an all natural, organic method that you may laugh at but it DOES WORK! What is it? Earthworm poop. Yep, simple ol' earthworm poop aka Earthworm Castings! :) A farmer even told me this! What to doÂgo out and get a huge bag of the earthworm castings and put cupfuls around your Hibiscus plants. Turn the soil over a bit around where you put the castings. Water away as usual. That's it! Somehow, the plant absorbs the 'stuff' and the nasty ol' White Flies don't like the way the Hibiscus tastes (I guess) anymore and won't lay eggs on it. Isn't that the craziest thing you've ever heard of?

Believe me, we have so many different Hibiscus in our backyard and had the most horrid case of White Fly you've ever seen. I would just get grossed out when I'd have to go and do any weeding under those Hibiscus 'trees' because I'd end up with that sticky webby stuff in my hair and there is probably nothing grosser than that. Eek! I use the castings ALL over the garden and let me tell you, White Fly is basically a thing of the past. My DH knows that I will always ask him to pick me up a few big bags of 'earthworm poop' for the garden, particularly if I notice even one teeny little White Fly around (our neighbors have Hibiscus and those WFs also love Plumeria). Trust me on this one. Truly.

PS: I mentioned this and an agricultural scientist said that yep, I was correct, that Earthworm castings is one of the best things to use as a systemic in helping to keep White Flies away. :)

    Bookmark   March 29, 2005 at 8:38PM
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Palmert(10 CA)

Well I got rid of the white fly problem in the front yard, I cut down and dug up the plant, roots and all.:) But as for the back yard, I really want to keep the plant. So off to ArmstrongÂs Nursery I went and sure enough, the lady recommended "Earthworm Castings." Never heard of them before, but she was sure that they work. I wish I would have checked on this before trimming the plant in the front yard.:)She also recommended to use the soap solution for several weeks to kill off the adults and new born.
I will try both and we will see. Good luck.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2005 at 9:31PM
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Same problem here...its so bad my huge hibiscus hedges look like they are haunted. I was away for 2 years and the renters didn't tend to the plants. Now they are completely covered in hanging white webs-its disgusting and I don't like getting near them either.

Where can I buy the earthworm castings? Should I use that in conjunction with sprays?

    Bookmark   June 12, 2005 at 9:56PM
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This is how I HAVEN't got rid of white flies.

29 Hibiscus in a row along a 11ft block wall in red and white, (everyother plant is red, then white).

First my husband sprayed them with ALL the different sprays he keeps in his emergency arsenol. (I BEG him not to use them anywhere but with an acre of gardens and gone to our Baja home and traveling 4-5 months a year I don't keep on top of the whole yard like I should.) NONE of them killed the white population and the neighbor asked him to stop as it was affecting her breathing the fumes were so strong.

I called the ag. extension and was told to VACCUM them, spray them with soapy water and not to plant Hibiscus which they LOVE. Yep! I was out there with a DustBuster VACCUMING my white flies. I sprayed everything from a 12 foot ladder and climbing into the planter that is in a 5 foot high retainer wall with soapy water. I did this every week for three weeks.

I went to a nursery and they sold me worm casting in little bags for ALOT of money to cover the ground of 29 8 foot high plants and also a bottle of Clean Leaf that is an orange oil. Directions were to spray both sides of leaves with it but I was SICK of fighting the white flies so I washed EVERY leaf I could reach - top and bottom and trimmed as much off as I could and burnt it. Any leaves that fell - I put in the bucket of water with the "Clean Leaf" to kill the larva. Just FYI - when I pulled the leaves out of the water a couple hours later - they were STILL moving!

I continued to wash leaves every week but when we would leave for a couple months I would come home to a healthier hatch of white flies. I thought I NEARLY had them killed in the winter but was wrong.

I just returned from the nursery with advice to use worm castings again or grow my own by asking for a kit from Agriculture Ext. Office. She sold me a $26 bottle of Bayer-Advance Garden Tree & Shrub Insect Control. By the time I mixed it with water 3 oz. for every foot of plant - I managed to treat TWO of my hibiscus. I am so desparate to get rid of them that I will have the hibiscus cut down even with the block wall (they will be 5 feet high then) and locate the largest, cheapest source of this newest cure just in case it really DOES work.

I also started washing each leaf again with the "Clean Leaf" but it is just TOO time consuming!!! I washed down the plants with soapy water for tonight and will try ALL the suggestions I just read till I get rid of the pests. We do have Isotox in the garage - so maybe just to get a handle on these awful pests I will use it.

I will look for Naturalus T & O, Neem Oil (though that may be what I use on our fruit trees when they are dormant. I will try the garlic water, ant sticks and the yellow plates with tangle foot which I also have. I will let you know if any or all of these cures work.

Thank you EVERYONE for your help!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2005 at 11:10PM
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Datawgal(8/9 SC)

I have to second the recommendation for the earthworm castings. They were mentioned here on GW a few years back, I tried it on one Hibiscus Mutabilis (they are notarious for attracting whiteflys) and I haven't seen a whitefly since - on anything in my garden. This stuff even keeps the flys off Gardenias.

I now mix a little bit in my potting mix; it is expensive but a little goes a long way and it is excelent fertilizer.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2005 at 7:48AM
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Patris(9 Gulf Coast)

Well, lots of idea's and seems those hateful white flies have read them also. They are immune to everything. I too have used Orange oil and washed each leaf, sprayed the whole plants down with strong streams of water with no good results.

I will give the worm castings a try. Wonder if horse manure would do the same thing?? I have a sister-in-law that has that by the truck loads.

Thanks for all your idea's and experience. If I do run across a sure fired way to murder the white fly population you can bet I will shout it from the roof tops. What hard headed critters! If a bug cannot die when you want them to, then what good are they? LOL

Best to all

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 8:50AM
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Patris(9 Gulf Coast)

Just read another cure on one of the other forums. Claims it real does work.

Paint strips of board yellow then paint on some motor oil.
Guess it attracts the white fly there where a timely death follows.

Sure worth a try!!

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 9:05AM
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WOW!! The plastic yellow cup with motor oil worked great! I even found a honey motor oil at KMart $2.99 (Castie Brand)

I tried spray soap and water on a potted tomato plant on my deck and it didn't work to get rid of the while flies. It seemed to work on my oregano I have in my kitchen though.

Happy gardening!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2006 at 4:22PM
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Hold off on the pesticides, you may end up hurting your plant...

I think sometimes it comes down just can't get rid of them. There used to be a weedy field behind my house that was constantly full of the things, so all I could do was watch for early outrbreaks and keep the numbers low by syringing. If you live in such a disadvantaged area, plant fewer plants they like.

Well they cleared out that field this year, and sent all the whiteflies to my yard. Most effective thing I know for the time it consumes and the cost, syringing, it does pretty much the same thing as insecticidal soap (since soaps don't kill adults that fly away) without damage to the plant or beneficial insects. And it's cheaper and a heck of a lot easier to do/apply. Sure, you have to do it several times, but it's the same with other methods. (In case you didn't know, syringing is spraying the undersides of leaves with a strong jet of water. Hibiscus are tough and can usually handle it.)

Other than that, yellow sticky traps (kind of the same as the motor oil thing, but less of a hassle) help to lower the number of adults flies, so when you get rid of the larvae and eggs you don't have to worry about as many being laid. Beneficial insects (in my case assassin bugs are the natural nuisance to the area) will help a lot too, so take care not to harm them.

That's all I know. Good luck :)

    Bookmark   August 4, 2006 at 11:20AM
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chena(z8 Texas)

I heard the yellow card and oil trick as well as the castings cure... The great thing about the castings is it is an organic fretilizer aslo... We use that an bat gauno alot around here... Good Luck

    Bookmark   August 11, 2006 at 5:39PM
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Get a product that contains imidacloprid as its active ingredient.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 2:45PM
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tcharles26(usa texas)

I second Torpeau's suggestion. It's a systemic, watered in so it's not going to hurt or discolor the leaves. provided you use according to the label.

And I also will disagree with the earthworm castings. They may have some benefit to reducing white fly, but I bet imidacloprid is way better. That's why professional growers use marathon on crops like poinsettias and hibiscus (both susceptible to white fly). Marathon, which is the professional wholesale formulation of Imidacloprid, is super expensive and earthworm poop is very cheap. So don't you think pros would use castings if they worked as well?

Also, castings are probably worthless for other pests, whereas imidacloprid has a wide range of effectiveness.

Another reason not to use ocastings is that they are very fine particles. Adding fines to a container mix reduces drainage which is bad container plant culture. I have a very large hibiscus rosa sinensis "cooperi" out front in a container. I incorporated 1 lb of eartworm castings to an otherwise well draining mix when I repotted it. It doesn't drain nearly as well now. I was really surprised how big a difference a relatively small amount of castings made. Of course the chemical doesn't cause this problem.

If you insist on this wholistic, earthy, coom-by-ya stuff try a nicotine strategy. For example, soak cigar in water, dilute, spray on bugs. imidacloprid is a molecule similar to nicotine.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 4:00PM
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sandy0225(z5 Indiana)

Rotate your sprays, make sure that they are sprays that work in different ways--ie. attacks different parts of the pest, not just a different chemical. Some sprays are paralytical, some stop growth of the pests, some work by suffocation, etc. Often common sprays with different chemicals still work in the same way. I'm currently using a isotox/bug b gon/bayer systemic rotation, using a different spray each week. then repeat the rotation.Write it down, and don't miss any sprays. If you look up the generic chemical name on the net and each one of them works in a different way, then you don't build up resistance like you would using just one spray. And that will be a combo that will work.
That's what my wholesale supply catalog recommended, but I'm not using the commercial strength sprays, I'm using the homeowner sprays because my operation is too small to justify spending $60 dollars a bottle on three or four different sprays, but I can afford $10 a bottle. It's working well so far.
Its not a problem that goes away overnight because you have different stages of pests on your plant and what kills one stage will not necessarily kill another stage. Also the worst thing you can do is spray the same spray over and over because the ones that live will be the ones multiply on your bushes, and after that happens, you might as well be spraying water for all the good it'll do you. I do know how frustrating they are and have sympathy for you!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 7:27PM
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DO NOT USE SAFER INSECT KILLING SOAP. It killed my Hibiscus, sweet potatoe plant and another bush with yellow flowers. I read the directions and NO WHERE did it say not to use it on the above. 1 to 2 days later saw the distress, gave it a shower 2 days in a row. They died anyway. Called the company. Go no help, "what do you want us to do about it"? Replace my plants! She put me on hold, checked on it "sorry we don't do that" I'm going to contact the CEO. These plants were Mother's Day presents and one was 7 years old. I told her they could add Hibiscus to their "don't use on" label or add "test a leaf first wait a day or two".

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 5:51PM
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''If you insist on this wholistic, earthy, coom-by-ya stuff try a nicotine strategy. For example, soak cigar in water, dilute, spray on bugs. imidacloprid is a molecule similar to nicotine''

Why not just share the expertize instead of making inappropriate judgment? I thought the comment about nicotine was very informed. Shame it was ruined it's the pre-amble. Everyone who grows things is trying to care for their environment, immediate and wider.

Thanks everyone. I am trying to rescue a baby beech tree from white fly. Given to me by a friend, it is very special. I shall post what works in time, x


    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 5:30AM
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Imidacloprid is also EXTREMELY toxic to bees, so unless you want to kill off the pollinators in your area too, think twice.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 12:07PM
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I have white fly on tomatoes so the nasties are out as far as treatment is concerned. Will soap work and if so what are the proportions? Will the Cornell spray work? Works like a charm on my roses and is organic so I have to spray often. Thanks.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 10:47AM
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Imidacloprid works but is deadly to our precious honey bees and makes certain birds sick. I say, don't use it!

I'm in south FLA and my yard is currently infested with white fly. I'm checking out the Neem Oil , yellow board/oil idea and the earthworm castings. I live on the water and don't want to do anything to harm the environment.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 6:11PM
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Hello. This too is upsetting because I LOVE hibiscus. I have tried all. Responding to STROP, the water doesnt work. It does, but we left out one very important part...along with spraying you must take thumb and rub the white fly off back of leave while washing. If you do this regularly for a period of time, they will get dicouraged and go to another plant.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 10:57AM
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fairfield8619(Zone 8 NW LA)

Imidacloprid is the one thing that will work the longest but you will have to spray repeatedly even with that- they fly in from all over. You will never get rid of them completely if there is a high population in the area. And I hate to tell you- spraying oil will kill the bees too if you spray them directly. Also, if you spray oil when it is hot you probably will kill your plants- THAT will take care of the white flies. Why should I not spray chemicals when agriculture sprays millions of gallons on everything? I won't be spraying millions of gallons. Give me a break.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 10:55PM
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use KWAS. my newly planted miniature roses in a few days had swarms of white flies and i noticed they were begining to decline. i just started watering with KWAS and immediately all the white flies were gone. must of killed larve in the roots too because started putting on new growth and all are fourishing now. thank goodness for KWAS and it works for everything.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 7:38AM
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I have 3 hibiscus plants in my garden and i just noticed that they all have whitefly infestations. I'm planning on using Bayer Advanced 32 oz Tree & Shrub concentrate. The label says to use 3 oz per foot, but as my hibiscus are about 7-8' tall, I will need at least 2 containers. This seems like a lot; could it harm the plant? Or has anyone had success using less of this product at a time on whiteflies? Two of the hibiscus are moderately infected and one is severely infected.

I will probably try spraying some Neem oil too, and prune away the diseased leaves once the flies are dead. Hopefully I can restore these otherwise beautiful shrubs/flowers to health.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 11:14PM
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I just did some research on Russian KWAS (KVAS) which was mentioned earlier by BeeJayA, It sounds very promising. Here's the link with the recipe and lots of info:

Here is a link that might be useful: KWAS

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 5:10AM
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I too was devastated when It looked like I had to pull out my vegetables.
They were covered in white fly and then I read about worm casings, my friend had a worm farm, but no casings so I tried neat worm juice(tea) I used about1 pint (500mls) to around three tomato plants then watered in. I think it took around 3 days to see the difference, I used fly spray very lightly as it is an aerosol and I thought it would be easier to get 'under the plant' , but I was just so mad at the white fly invasion and would not recommend fly spray, although I did see a lot of them die. I just checked my garden this morning and there are only a few white fly. I use the worm juice once a week and now have my own worm farm. I would say, 'don't panic' and use too much worm juice, it needs a few days for the plant to 'take up' the worm juice. Stay strong and all the best.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 6:40PM
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petarkostov(USDA Zone 6)

Hello everybody!
Please forgive my ignorance, but can anybody explain what are these worm castings the same as these produced by the red californian worm and sold as organic fertilizer? And what about "neat worm juice(tea)" - what is it and how does one prepare it?

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 10:21AM
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Worm castings are worm "poop" to be blunt. Earthworms eat organic matter and in the process will add several great materials to the soil. Pure castings are actually odor free and will eliminate odors when mixed with other materials. Depending on the materials fed to the worms, they often leave beneficial attributes. One of these is Chitinase. I have read that this actually softens an insects outer shell, and leads to the insect's "removal".

I believe that there is an organic tea that is prepared using these same castings, because I have a recipe for it on the bag I purchased. This may be the answer to you "worm juice".

For my hibiscus, I mix in a percentage of castings with all of my soil.

Hope this helps,

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 7:55PM
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petarkostov(USDA Zone 6)

Ed, thanks for the answer. The only commercially available product around here that I know of is red Californian worm "manure". It should be pure worm castings, right? So it should do the trick?
Chitinase is an enzyme capable of dissolving the outer skeleton of insects made of chitin. I don't know though if it is really present in worm castings and what impact it would actually have on living insects in the soil... Interesting!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 8:43AM
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Good to hear of your suggestion of worm poop as I now have a investation of white fly and eggs. Been using a little neem. But I have my own worm castings and have used it in my gardens, but now Im going to add a few cups to the trouble area. They have hit one certain tomato plant pretty hard and got my attention this morning.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 5:30PM
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Here is your answer on how to get rid of the whitefly infestation.

The whitefly have a waxy coat so any spray on them is not very effective.
Use the below product which is applied to the soil and uptake by the roots, the aphid/whiteflies eat it and die.

Name of active ingredient: imidacloprid
I bought this brand on Amazon: Systemic Tree and Shrub Insect Drench

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 3:54PM
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