If your plant leaves are covered with a white, waxy substance and the surfaces feel like sticky honeydew, that’s a sign you may have whiteflies on your plants.
White flies feed on plant sap, causing the leaves to turn yellow, dry up, and eventually fall off. Therefore, it is vital that you get rid of them quickly.
White fly is a general term for tiny white flying bugs that infest a wide variety of crops, including tomato plants, sweet potatoes, and pepper plants.
Hundreds of species have been identified . There are also cabbage white flies that damage brassica crops.
Here’s how to get rid of whiteflies naturally, indoors and outdoors:
1. Neem Oil Spray
This organic treatment has a unique smell that deters a range of insect pests. It also works great as a natural whitefly home remedy.
Neem oil will repel adult whiteflies. It will also smother whitefly larvae and whitefly eggs that are already present. Therefore, it is suitable for making homemade whitefly spray.
For the recipe, combine four teaspoons of neem oil with one teaspoon of organic liquid soap and a gallon of water. Shake well and apply under and on the leaves and around the plants.
2. Vacuum Them
One of the simplest and cheapest home remedies for whiteflies is to vacuum them away.
Using a small hand-held vacuum cleaner, you can suck them up from under leaves and on plant stems. Afterwards, empty the contents of the vacuum bag into a sealed plastic bag and throw it well away from the home and garden.
3. Soap and Water
Soap spray is also among the inexpensive whitefly home remedies for your vegetable garden.
Make a DIY white fly control spray by mixing 4 tablespoons of organic liquid soap with 1 gallon of water. You can also use a mild dishwashing liquid if you do not have organic soap.
Use the solution to mist your plants thoroughly. The soapy water will kill whiteflies.
Spray in the evening and repeat every few days until the insect infestation is gone entirely.
4. Sticky Traps
When used properly, these can be effective deterrents. Yellow sticky traps appear to be the most attractive color for capturing white flies in the house and on garden plants.
Hang the traps near plants and in the greenhouse. After getting trapped, the pests will become immobilized and eventually die.
5. Natural Predators
This method is at the heart of organic pest control. It uses nature’s own way of reducing pests.
Natural predators of whiteflies include ladybugs, dragonflies, garden spiders, and green lacewing larvae.
The parasitic wasp, Encarsia formosa, is also a useful white fly killer. The females lay their eggs inside host insects and hatch out to feed on and destroy the pests.
Besides, you can purchase most of these beneficial insects to help populate your garden.
A simple but laborious method to keep white flies off plants is to remove them by hand.
A soft cloth or pieces of kitchen towel can be used on the leaves to collect and destroy these small white bugs. Also, cut any infected parts off of your crops.
7. Worm Castings
Earthworms are beneficial to plants by incorporating organic matter into the soil. Their poop (worm casting) also helps raise the chitinase enzyme level in plants , repelling whiteflies.
Moreover, worm castings are often used as organic fertilizer. You can make your own or buy the product from various farm and gardening stores.
8. Repellent Plants
Plants that repel whiteflies include chives, thyme, peppermint, and basil. The critters hate the scent of these herbs.
These pesky insects are also included in the diet of many birds. Chickadees and other songbirds are happy to clear your yard and garden of whitefly infestations.
So making your garden attractive to birds by providing some shelter and additional food is a good idea.
10. Garlic Spray
Garlic is yet another effective home remedy against those tiny white bugs on your tomato plants and other crops.
Crush about four garlic cloves into a tablespoon of mineral oil and leave it to stand for a while. Next, strain and add about a pint of water to the solution.
Finally, hand-spray this natural whitefly treatment on outdoor plants or those in the greenhouse.
11. Reflective Mulch
Gardeners often use this type of mulch to reflect light on plants in shady areas. The reflective material confuses these white insects, sending them elsewhere.
12. Epsom Salt
Epsom salt can help combat whiteflies and other pests on plants. Make a spray by dissolving two tablespoons of Epsom salt in a gallon of water.
Apply the solution to your plants. It will help control whiteflies, mealybugs, aphids, and other pests.
13. Baking Soda
Baking soda spray is an excellent homemade pesticide for your vegetable garden. Just combine two tablespoons of baking soda and one teaspoon of dish soap in a gallon of water.
Mix thoroughly until the baking soda completely dissolves, then use the solution to spray your plants.
Vinegar will also kill whiteflies. Use it to make a watered-down solution that is safe for your plants.
Combine one part white vinegar with four parts water and apply it to the affected plants.
Molt-X is an organic pesticide for the ash whitefly, aphids, fungus gnats, and other soft-bodied pests. It is a commercial concentrate of azadirachtin, one of the most effective components derived from neem seeds.
The product disrupts molting and affects all other stages of the insect’s life. Feeding also stops. As a result, these pests will fail to develop and slowly die off.
Dilute it with water according to the instructions, and spray it onto and around plants.
16. JMS Stylet Oil
Diluted and sprayed all year, this natural insecticide kills whiteflies. It is also effective in disrupting the life cycles of many other insect pests.
These tiny, white-flying insects gather under leaves and feed on the sap of plants, weakening and destroying them. Females also shed hundreds of eggs for the next generation, adding to the damage.
Whiteflies are common on houseplants like African violets, guava trees, petunias, roses, hibiscus, citrus, and other indoor and outdoor plants. You will also find them on vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, basil, beans, and kale.
Using a combination of natural pest control methods such as those described here appears to be the best solution to getting rid of these pests (often called white gnats).