Whiteflies on Tomatoes: Identity & Controlling

whiteflies on tomatoes

The best way to control whiteflies on tomatoes is to remove their hosts.

What is Whiteflies?

Whiteflies are a nuisance pest on tomatoes.  Whiteflies are also sap-sucking insects that carry viruses, and pests of plants from potatoes to corn to tomatoes. As teenagers, whiteflies were an annoyance; as adults, they are a pest.

But whiteflies are fussy about their hosts. Some plants, like tomatoes, are their favorites. Whiteflies prefer to lay eggs in tomatoes, but they also lay eggs on beans, on eggplant, on peppers, and on watermelon, to name just a few.

It’s not only that whiteflies lay their eggs on their favorite host. They also prefer their favorite host if it’s healthy. In general, the whiteflies that lay eggs on the sickest plants survive and produce the most whiteflies.

Life Cycle of whiteflies:

The life cycle of whitefly begins when a whitefly egg is laid. The egg hatches into a nymph. The nymph then goes through 4 stages to become an adult.

  • Egg: The egg hatches into a nymph. The nymph then goes through 4 stages to become an adult.
  • Nymph: The nymph is a stage in the life cycle of the whitefly.
  • Pupa: The pupa is the stage of the whitefly’s life cycle in which the insect changes from nymph to adult.
  • Adult: The adult is the stage of the life cycle of whitefly in which the insect has matured and is ready to reproduce.
  • Death: The insect dies after reproducing.

A Guide To Identifying Plant Damage From Whiteflies

A whitefly infestation is not particularly visible to the naked eye. The pests can live in any area of the plant, from leaves to stems to flowers. They attack both flowers and foliage. Occasionally whiteflies cause yellowish colors to appear on leaves. Also, plants develop a yellow-gray scale-like appearance.

They damage plants by sucking large amounts of sap from the plants. This sap then gets transported back to the whiteflies’ bodies, which become engorged and white. The whiteflies then deposit the eggs on the plant, and the cycle continues.

Common Symptoms of Whiteflies on leaves

The most common symptom of whiteflies is leaf curling.

Careful inspection of the affected leaves will usually reveal tiny holes in the leaves. The holes are round, and the holes always appear on the inside of the leaf. Sometimes the leaves have white, powdery spots on them.

Whiteflies are difficult to control. They reproduce very quickly, and so it is important to destroy the whiteflies as soon as they appear.

Here’s some way to control Whiteflies on Tomatoes

Growers can treat whiteflies with insecticides or with biological controls.

So, one way to prevent whiteflies from laying their eggs on tomatoes is to manage the health of the plants.

The conventional way to manage plant health is by using pesticides. Pesticides kill whiteflies by preventing them from laying their eggs.

But pesticides raise thorny problems.

  • Pesticides kill whiteflies. But whiteflies don’t die; they go into hiding. If pesticides kill the whiteflies we want, they also kill the whiteflies we don’t want.
  • Pesticides kill insects, including beneficial insects like bees. (It’s not clear that bees are even whiteflies’ favorite insects, but let’s roll with it.)
  • Pesticides kill plants.

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