5 mins to read

In a Nutshell

  • Yellow spots on leaves.
  • Deep black powdery mold develops.
  • Leaf deformation with curling or cupping shape.
  • Stunted growth.
  • Small white to yellowish insects.

Can also be found in

43 Crops
Bitter Gourd



Both adults and nymphs suck the plant sap and excrete honeydew onto leaves, stems and fruits. Chlorotic spots and sooty molds develop on the affected tissues. During heavy infections, these spots may come together and spread over the whole leaf, apart from the area around the veins. The leaves may later become deformed, curl or take a cupping shape.


Organic Control

Biological solutions will vary depending on the specific species of whitefly involved and the crop. Natural insecticides based on sugar-apple oil (Annona squamosa), pyrethrins, insecticidal soaps, Neem seed kernel extract (NSKE 5%), Neem oil (5ml/L water) are recommended. Pathogenic fungi include Beauveria bassiana, Isaria fumosorosea, Verticillium lecanii, and Paecilomyces fumosoroseus.

Chemical Control

Always consider an integrated approach with preventive measures together with biological treatments if available. Whiteflies quickly develop resistance to all pesticides, so a rotation of different products is recommendable. Apply products based on or combinations of bifenthrin, buprofezin, fenoxycarb, deltamethrin, azadirachtin, lambda-cyhalothrin, cypermethrin, pyrethroids, pymetrozine or spiromesifen to control the insect. Be aware that preventive measures are often enough to reduce the population to harmless levels.

What caused it?

Whiteflies are common on a variety of crops grown in open fields and greenhouses. They measure about 0.8-1 mm and have the body and both pairs of wings covered with a white to yellowish powdery, waxy secretion. The eggs are laid on the underside of the leaves. The nymphs are yellow to white, flat, oval and pale green in color. Adult whiteflies cannot live without feeding on a host plant for more than a few days. They are often found on the underside of the leaves, and, if disturbed, will emerge forming a cloud. They thrive in warm, dry conditions. Some whiteflies transmit viruses such as tomato yellow leaf curl virus or cassava brown streak virus.

Preventive Measures

  • Use companion crops that attract or deter whiteflies (nasturtiums, zinnias, hummingbird bush, pineapple sage, bee balm).
  • Plant tall-growing plants like maize, sorghum or pearl millet in dense rows as border crops.
  • Consult with your neighbors and make sure to sow at the right time, not too early nor too late.
  • Use denser plant space at planting.
  • Watch for signs of whitefly on new purchases or transplants.
  • Monitor your field with yellow sticky traps (20/acre).
  • Ensure a balanced plant fertilization.
  • Do not use broad-spectrum insecticides that can affect beneficial insects.
  • Remove leaves with eggs or larvae on them.
  • Control weeds and alternate hosts in and around the field.
  • Remove plant residues from the field or greenhouse after harvest.
  • Plan a short fallow at warm temperatures.
  • UV-absorbing greenhouse plastic films can reduce infestations.
  • Perform intercropping practices with non-susceptible plants.

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