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Eco-friendly Whitefly Control

Does this sound familiar?  You brush your hand over your plants and a cloud of white fly-like insects disperse in the air.  It is not a good thing. 

These insects, known as whiteflies, suck plant juices often causing stunted growth as well as yellow and brown leaves as they secrete a clear sticky substance.  Most healthy outdoor plants with good growing conditions can tolerate their feeding.  And fortunately our cold winters kill them.

The real problem occurs when they move indoors.  They often hitch a ride with tropicals or annuals that get moved indoors for winter.  Or we inadvertently bring them in with newly purchased holiday and houseplants.

Use homemade or commercial yellow sticky traps to reduce the population.  This may be enough to keep plants growing until they can be moved back outdoors next summer.

Horticulture and Neem oil are an organic control option.  Read and follow label directions carefully.  You do not want to cause more damage with the cure than the pest itself.

A bit more information:  Make your own sticky trap.  Use yellow cardboard or poster board or paint them yourself.  The yellow attracts the whiteflies.  Cover the yellow boards with a sticky substance like tanglefoot or petroleum jelly to catch the insects.  One gardener places their yellow cardboard inside a clear plastic bag.  They cover the bag with the sticky substance.  Once it is covered with insects, they slide off the bag and cover the preserved yellow cardboard with a new bag to catch the next round of white flies.

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