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.
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 from your garden.
White fly is a general term for tiny white flying bugs that infest a wide variety of crops, including tomato plants, sweet potatoes, and peppers.
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
Neem oil is a natural whitefly 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 whitefly larvae and whitefly eggs that are already present.
Make a homemade whitefly spray by combining four teaspoons of neem oil with one teaspoon of organic liquid soap and a gallon of water. Shake well and apply under and on leaves and around the plants.
Additionally, neem is an effective fungicide to deal 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 with one 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
These are unpleasant but effective deterrents. Yellow sticky traps appear to be the most attractive color for capturing white flies in the house and on garden plants.
After getting trapped, they will become immobilized, unable to feed or reproduce and eventually die.
Therefore, hang the traps near plants and 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.
What’s more, you can purchase most of these beneficial insects to help populate your organic garden.
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
Flowering plants like French marigolds planted alongside tomato plants will keep away these fly-like insects. Additionally, nasturtiums, thyme, peppermint, and basil are other plants that repel whiteflies.
These harmful insects are included in the diet of many birds. Hummingbirds, particularly, are happy to clear your yard and garden of whitefly infestation.
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 these white insects, sending them elsewhere.
Molt-X is an organic pesticide for whiteflies, 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, the white ash flies will fail to develop and slowly die off.
Dilute it with water according to the instructions and spray onto and around plants.
13. JMS Stylet Oil
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 white gnats.