U of F with an experiment in my yard

shavedmonkey (Harvey in South Fl.)Z10bAugust 17, 2013

Because I'm in contact with the county agent, I've been chosen as an experiment and hopefully a long term solution to the white fly problem. About 6 weeks ago there was a bunch of people in my yard. The county agent, a Phd from U of F, And another phd from State of Fl, dept. of Ag. and his assistant.

They brought a "banker" plant. A potted bird of paradise to be infected with white fly. Now, 6 weeks later they brought predators. A tiny wasp that lays eggs in the fly and kills it. The predators are in a mesh bag, placed on the plant, that allows the wasps to get out but not the white flies emerging from eggs in the mesh bag. That way the wasps can leave and establish more colonies.

This predator is here already in the environment but far too few. This is an attempt to bolster the wasp population. They tell me that their process will not clean a heavily infested yard but would defend a mostly clean yard. So now I'm waiting for the wasps to emerge. Supposed to be in 3 weeks.

This is a very serious problem that started in Miami. The fly was a hitchhiker on a ship that entered the port. It has spread as far north as Melbourne Beach. We have had heavy infestations in my neighborhood.

I hope this works. If it does it will take 6 to 12 months. Fingers crossed.

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Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake, F

My question would be: If they were in a mostly clean yard, one with very few white flies, what would entice them to stay in the area and defend it? Since I stopped with the chemicals and started kind of doing the IPM thing, letting nature find its balance, it wasn't until after the prey bugs showed up that the predators showed up. In my first case, it wasn't until the aphids showed up that the ladybugs also arrived a couple weeks later and started eating them. But once the aphid population went down, many of the ladybugs seemed to leave in search of more food. Some have stuck around and they do their best to keep the aphid population in check, though never fully eradicating them. Which makes sense, why would they kill off all their food? It would be like a farmer killing off his last bull and cow and expect to somehow have beef and milk the following year. These wasps might help to control a population in a yard, but I don't think they would ever really be a solution, especially if they feed on other things than just white flies.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 11:52AM
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shavedmonkey (Harvey in South Fl.)Z10b

I should define mostly clean. Not only my yard, but the whole neighborhood was overwhelmed. Heavy infestation. So most of us did the systemic spray and was quite effective. Over time it wears off and the fly is regaining to where there is opportunity for egg laying in the white fly. The larvae grows and kills the fly.

Leekle, you are describing the local indigenous bugs. The spiral white fly is an invading species. It has the upper hand. Nature needs help. The predator wasp is already here. But completely unprepared to resolve the problem.
So now in my mostly clean yard there are beginning colonies of white fly which I suspect would be manageable for the wasps. This problem has come from the South to the North over several years. South of me in West Palm Beach, the same Dr Osborne resolved a property there with success. btw the wasps do not eat the fly. They lay eggs in them. The wasps are very tiny.

I think zone 9a does not have the spiral white fly yet. But it may keep going north unless a solution is created. Be hopeful something is figured out. If you have a better solution lets hear it. In the mean time I applaud the efforts being made.

This post was edited by shavedmonkey on Sat, Aug 17, 13 at 15:36

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 2:58PM
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In the late 80's we had a severe infestation of silverleaf whitefly. It was so bad, I sometimes saw clouds of them in parking lots. Over the years they gradually dissipated. I hope we are not in for a new infestation with another species. Sounds like that may be the case. Rats!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 3:18PM
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Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake, F

So this experiment is to see if they can get an indigenous wasp species to accept the alien spiral whitefly as an acceptable host for their young?

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 4:28PM
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zzackey(8b GA)

I had spiral whitefly on my hibiscus in my wholesale greenhouse when I lived in Florida. Damdest things I had ever seen. Good luck getting rid of them.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 5:41PM
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Just chiming in to report that they are far north of Melbourne Beach, clear up to Cape Canaveral and they appear to be working their way into the mainland, too.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 6:53PM
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Well folks ain't nature grand! if it ain't one white-fly it's another.... 3 years ago my 'maters were destroyed by white-fly, and last year and this year not a sign of them... what crops do these newbie's like? sure is something to look forward to...this year it has been spider-mites, didn't matter how many times a day I blasted them w/the hose they were right back next morning, very persistent....these critters will survive when we are all gone....LOL.... sally

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 8:55PM
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beachlily z9a

I'm in Ponce Inlet, north of you. For the last 8-10 years I've had predatory small wasps in my garden. No other problems, except with aphids in the spring. The thing that amazed me was that the wasps would ignore me as I work in and around my daylilies. Just amazing. They are still here.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 9:44PM
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shavedmonkey (Harvey in South Fl.)Z10b

It is automatic that the wasp will lay an egg in the white fly. The goal is to build colonies of the wasp. And if you saw them in your garden then you were using magnification. These predator wasps are about the size of a spider mite. A loop is required to see them. To find them, look at them attached to a white fly. Look for a dark spot that wiggles. Dr Osborne showed me a video of the wasp emerging. It was a laboratory camera. Not in the field photography. With initial support from man, the goal is to have an egg in every white fly by increasing the wasp population.

Man created an overpopulation of the white fly by globalization. A freighter ship in the port of Miami with an incubated and growing supply from Central America. The local natural predator was overwhelmed. Their population exploded. We are resupplying troops.

It worked at a property in west palm.

I think the phase of this project is to prove that it works. Then to ramp up production and create a distribution process. Such as partnering with a pest service.

There are up and running facilities that specialize in the production of predator bugs. Old technology. Create a demand and there will be a satisfaction of that need.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 2:27AM
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I lifted this from another site. See the link.

Adult parasitoid wasps need nectar sources in the form of abundant, tiny flowers. Flowers whose nectaries are too small for honeybees to exploit. This is not to take anything away from our workhorse pollinators, European honeybees, which are suffering tremendously these days��"but they are very efficient, and will outcompete native bees and parasitoids on all but the tiniest flowers. Smart gardeners provide nectar sources for both. Gardeners control plant selection, plant placement, plant spacing, and timing of planting��"and therefore, timing of bloom. Each of these variables can be manipulated as a means of attracting beneficial insects. The best strategy for attracting beneficial insects is a two-pronged approach: Allow âÂÂselective boltingâ of plants like cilantro, dill, and short-season Asian greens within vegetable beds Create Beneficial Insect Reservoir Beds��"BIRBâÂÂs��"around the perimeter of the garden, with small patches or islands within the garden.

Here is a link that might be useful: Growing Organically

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 10:19AM
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msmorningsong(SW FL 10A)

How did the project go Shavedmonkey? I applaud all efforts in this manner. We had white fly this summer too, but thankfully they are gone now. Not a one on any of my tomatoes and other plants.
Shuffles, I do exactly as you said in your last post. I have many plants and beds specifically for tiny parasitic wasps, bees, and predator insects. It works fairly well, at least for me.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 8:31AM
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This spiral white fly is an undiscriminating herbivore? Or does it have target species?

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 8:46AM
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dlsm(Z9b Titusville Fl)

They have wiped out my tomatoes here in Titusville for the past 3 years. We get the white flies during the winter months more than the summer months.


    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 11:47AM
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shavedmonkey (Harvey in South Fl.)Z10b

It is much better now. And improving. The banker plant did not populate due to bad timing of predator introduction. Plan b worked. We used a gumbo limbo that was infected with the fly as our banker plant. State of Fl researcher PHD guy brought a bunch of predator wasps. They immediately laid eggs in the fly and created a local population. From there they can create more "banker" plants/trees. My yard has not been sprayed for months and there is no noticeable problem.

They like all tropical plants. I have not seen them in bamboo though. Their favorite is gumbo limbo, all palms especially coconuts, white bird, travelers palm, heliconia etc. I believe that in a pinch they would eat any plant. I saw a very few in my oak tree before.

My tomatoes are up about 6'. I had a modest problem with a different white fly. This one was much smaller. I sprayed a lot of soap and won the battle. I think the flies were here due to a record breaking warm December.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 12:38PM
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