If your plant leaves are covered with a white, waxy substance and the surfaces feel like sticky honeydew, that’s a sign of whiteflies on your plants.
These insects 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 before the damage becomes severe.
White fly is a general term for tiny flying white bugs that infest a wide range of plants and crops and are a particular menace to farmers.
Hundreds of species have been identified , including a type that mainly feeds on tomatoes and others that you will find largely in greenhouses. 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
Neem oil is a natural white flies home remedy that also works against other garden pests. This organic treatment comes from the seed of the Neem tree. It is bitter and has a unique smell that deters a range of unwanted insects.
Neem oil will repel the adults, hindering them from laying their eggs. Moreover, it will smother the eggs and larvae that are already present.
Make a homemade whitefly spray by combining four teaspoons of neem oil with one teaspoon of organic liquid soap in a gallon of water. Shake well and apply under and on leaves and around the plants.
Neem is also an effective fungicide dealing with the dark sooty mold caused by the honeydew residue.
2. Vacuum Them
The simplest and cheapest home remedy 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. Release well away from the home and garden.
3. Soap and Water
Soap spray is 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 in one gallon of water. Use it 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 down or gone entirely.
4. Sticky Traps
These are unpleasant but effective deterrents. Yellow sticky traps appear to be the most attractive color for capturing white flies on garden plants.
They will become immobilized, unable to feed or reproduce, and will die.
Therefore, hang the traps on or near plants or in the greenhouse. You can also buy a sticky gel and use it around the base of plants and shrubs to catch the pests.
5. Beneficial Insects
This method is at the heart of organic pest control using nature’s own way of reducing pests while feeding and encouraging helpful insects and pollinators.
Natural insect predators include ladybugs, dragonflies, garden spiders, and green lacewing larvae. Additionally, parasitic wasps are particularly useful white fly killers. They lay their eggs inside host insects and hatch out to feed on and destroy the pests.
Moreover, most of these beneficial insects can be purchased to help populate the organic garden. Farmers employing this method report notable benefits in pest and cost reduction.
A simple but laborious method to keep white flies off plants is to remove them by hand.
For the squeamish, soft cloth or pieces of kitchen towel can be used on the leaves to collect up and destroy the 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. Moreover, their poop (worm casting) helps raise the chitinase enzyme level in plants , repelling whiteflies.
You can make your own or buy the product from various farm and gardening stores. Besides, worm castings are often used as organic fertilizer.
8. Companion Plants
Planting flowering plants like French marigolds alongside tomato plants is a good way of controlling whitefly insects. The fragrance is intolerable to these pests, keeping them away.
Nasturtiums are another bright and helpful plant to repel pests. Moreover, they give color and attractiveness to the garden and encourage pollinators.
Birds, particularly hummingbirds, are happy to clear your yard and garden of whitefly infestation.
These harmful insects are the natural diet of birds. Therefore, making the 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 tiny white bugs on 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 homemade whitefly treatment on outdoor plants or those in the greenhouse.
11. Reflective Mulch
This type of mulch is often used by gardeners to reflect light onto plants in shady areas. The reflective material that it is made of confuses white flies, sending them elsewhere.
This is a commercial concentrate of azadirachtin, one of the most effective components derived from Neem seeds.
This natural insecticide differs from Neem oil in that it lacks certain fungicidal effects; however, it is an efficient antifeedant of many pests including white fly.
Molt-X disrupts molting and affects all other stages of the insect’s life. Feeding also stops. Consequently, the flies fail to develop and slowly die off.
This organic pesticide for whiteflies should be diluted with water according to the instructions and sprayed onto and around plants.
13. JMS Stylet Oil
Stylet is an OMRI-listed mineral oil that is safe to use on fruit trees and vegetable crops as well as ornamentals.
This organic oil is used to treat mildew as well as being a natural insecticide and anti-virus product. It is non-toxic to beneficial insects, pets, and wildlife if used according to the instructions.
Diluted and sprayed all year round, this natural insecticide kills whiteflies. Moreover, it is effective in disrupting the life cycle 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 to add to the damage.
Using a combination of natural pest control methods such as those described here appears to be the best solution to get rid of this complex problem.