Whitefly Integrated Pest Management

Whiteflies are small, winged insects that belong to the family Aleyrodidae. They are commonly found in tropical and subtropical regions but can also be present in other climates. These tiny insects feed on the sap of plants using their needle-like mouthparts, and they can be serious pests for a variety of crops. 

Common species of whiteflies include the silverleaf whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) and the greenhouse whitefly (Trialeurodes vaporariorum). Controlling whitefly infestations requires careful monitoring, early detection, and the implementation of appropriate control measures to minimize economic losses in agriculture.



Scientific name:

Over 1500 species known, common pests of agricultural and ornamental crops include:

Aleurocanthus woglumi,
Aleyrodes proletella,

Bemisia tabaci,
Trialeurodes vaporariorum,

Image of adult and nymphs

Photo: Angelica Cameron

Image of Adult

Source: https://bugsforbugs.com.au/whats-your-pest/whiteflies/

Common name:


Insect order:






Host range

Very wide host range. Commonly found affecting Solanum, Capsicum, Brassica, Nicotiana and Gossypium


Complete metamorphosis.

Life cycle and seasonal behaviour

Eggs are laid upon the underside of young leaves on the host plant, and hatch within 5-6 days. The emerging first larval instar has short legs, which it uses to move around and locate a feeding position. Once it has inserted its mouthpiece to feed, it does not move again and will lose use of its legs. The second and third instar nymphs continue to feed grow in size, until developing into the fourth and final instar. Each instar period lasts approximately 4-5 days. The final instar feeds at first, before ceasing to feed. The adult emerges from the larval skin within 3-4 days.

Adult mouthparts 

Piercing-sucking mouthparts are inserted into the underside of leaf, bud and stem tissue, drawing sap from the host plant.

Juvenile mouthparts

Piercing-sucking mouthparts are inserted into the underside of leaf, bud and stem tissue, drawing sap from the host plant.

Plant part affected

Nymphs and adults feed upon the underside of their host plants leaf, bud and stem tissue using their piercing-sucking mouthparts. Affected leaves yellow around feeding sites, typically creating a streaked effect across the surface. Leaves may also roll and wilt, eventually becoming silvery with heavy damage..

Pest management options


Neem oil, pyrethroid insecticides.


Quarantine any new plants, seedlings or cuttings to ensure they are not host to pest insects.


Yellow sticky traps, spraying down plant regularly, shaking of plants.

Biological control

Encarsia formosa (Parasitic wasp), Lecanicillium muscarium (Entomopathogenic fungus), Typhlodromips montdorensis (Predatory mite), Beauveria bassiana (Fungus)

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)


Establish threshold levels and deploy yellow sticky traps throughout the crop to monitor for whitefly populations.

Regular gentle shaking of plants will disturb feeding insects, causing them to take flight and assisting in their detection.

Predatory insects are the preferred method for ongoing control of whitefly. Release predatory insects as soon as possible after pest sighting for best results.

Whitefly can quickly build resistance to pesticides, and for this reason they are best used as a last resort for an out of control infestation, not as a preventative measure. Neem oil and pyrethroid sprays can both be effective, although caution must be taken when using pyrethroids as they will also harm any beneficial insects present at the time of application. 



Whitefly - Sustainable Gardening Australia

Whitefly – Department of Primary Industries & Regional Development, WA

Whiteflies – Bugsforbugs

Whitefly – Greenhouse IPM

Whitefly – Wikipedia

Greenhouse Whitefly – Wikipedia