For more information please contact:
Lance S. Osborne


Invasive Species Week Webinar

2014 Whitefly Management Plan


BEMISIA-L Listserver

What is a list server? A list server is like on open conversation that travels through e-mail.  One person e-mails a question to a specific email address and it is sent to all on the list.  As people respond to the questions and statements they are e-mailed back to all on the list.  This is a good way to get questions answered and to learn about the many new species of whiteflies attacking plants in Florida. This list is not limited to Bemisia. In fact, we will probably concentrate on a number of newly introduced invasive species.

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UPDATED 2-27-2012



The Rugose Spiraling Whitefly, Aleurodicus rugioperculatus Martin


Select Whiteflies and Their Natural Enemies in Florida

Click the title above to go to the Whitefly Page!

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Whitefly Management Program_2011

Q Biotype Whitefly Finds in North America



Date Detected



Dec 2004



30 May 05



4 July 05



8 Sept 05



23 Sept 05



28 Sept 05


New York

29 Sept 05



13 Oct 05



15 Oct 05



18 Oct 05



28 Oct 05



2 Nov 05



3 Nov 05


New Jersey

3 Nov 05



8 Nov 05



10 Nov 05



17 Nov 05


North Carolina

18 Nov 05



9 Dec 05



9 Dec 05


New Hampshire

3 Jan 06


South Carolina

5 May 06



23 Mar 07



21 Sept 07



Jan 08



3 May 2010





The following laboratories have agreed to receive whitefly samples and determine biotype. The results belong to the sender. We would, however, like to request that the following information be available to the Whitefly Taskforce:
• Date collected
• Crop:
     > ornamental greenhouse
     > vegetable greenhouse
     > ornamental outside or open structure
     > cotton
     > vegetable
• Location: at the very least we would like State and county.
• Control history if possible:
     > pesticides used
     > control or failure

There are a number of specifics concerning how one collects a sample and preserves it for evaluation. For these specifics, scheduling you MUST contact Dr. McKenzie.

Cindy McKenzie, Ph.D.
Research Entomologist
USDA, ARS, US Horticultural Research Laboratory
2001 South Rock Road
Fort Pierce, FL 34945



Federal and State Regulatory Agencies

Ornamentals-Cotton-Vegetable Industries

Scientific Technical Working Group


Click here for a PDF version.Click here to view a PDF version of this document.






Based on early reports, 2011 may be another challenging year for whitefly management.  Whiteflies have been detected in some rooted cuttings shipments, and hot dry conditions have promoted a greater than normal buildup of whiteflies on field crops in parts of the southeastern United States .


The Ad Hoc Whitefly Task Force, made up of state and federal regulators, representatives of the ornamentals, cotton and vegetable industries, and leading scientists, has been working together to develop effective whitefly management programs since 2005.  The success of this effort has serious economic implications for U.S. agriculture, and depends in part on you – the ornamentals grower.


A good whitefly management program must have two goals. First, of course, is to help growers produce a high quality, salable crop for the final consumer. Second, but of equal importance, is preserving the chemical tools that agriculture uses to manage whiteflies.  If we do not maintain the viability of effective chemical tools, it will be difficult for many growers to produce a salable crop.  Consequently, the wise use of chemicals, through a scientifically based IPM program, is essential in this 21st Century.  Europe has seen, and is suffering from, the results of overspraying.  Insecticide misuse in the United States may result in silverleaf whitefly populations that cannot be controlled.  It is important to remember that the Q-biotype whitefly is already resistant to a number of products commonly used.  Chemical overspray could easily lead to B-biotype resistance.


The Task Force asks you to collaborate with us in this effort.  It’s not just about the challenges posed by the Q-biotype.  It’s about avoiding resistance development in any whitefly population.


What should commercial growers be doing?


1.  Scout – essential.  Inspect your crops at least weekly.  Don’t let the whiteflies get ahead of you, or your treatment options will be more limited.  

2.  Exclude or isolate.  If at all possible, try to exclude whiteflies from your growing facility with screening material, and if possible, isolate the facility so that workers have to enter through an anteroom.

3.  Practice good sanitation – essential.  Keep weeds down, maintain good growing practices.

4.  Inspect incoming shipments, and isolate if necessary.  All of the major propagators are cooperating in this program, so you should not be receiving undue numbers of whiteflies.  Because zero-tolerance is NOT the goal for anyone, you may see a whitefly or two when your shipments arrive.  That’s normal, and means that your propagator (or rooting station) is probably following good management practices.  However, if you see many whiteflies on incoming shipments, keep those shipments separate from your other crops until they have been treated.  And contact your propagator or rooting station -  inform them about the situation.  Ask whether they are biotyping their whiteflies, if they are monitoring resistance levels in their whitefly populations, and if they are following the Task Force’s recommended Management Program  

5.  Watch your neighbors’ fields.  If you’re near cotton or vegetable fields, you may see whiteflies migrate to your greenhouse at the end of their season, and you’ll have to deal with it.  If you know when those seasons are, you’ll be better prepared.  

6.  Study and implement the “Management Program for Whiteflies on Propagated Ornamentals” recommended by the Task Force.  It’s available at  This program is based on the best scientific data developed to date by the Whitefly Task Force scientists.  Do not rely on just one or two effective products, but instead integrate products with different modes of action to decrease the potential for developing resistance. 

7.  If you have control problems:  contact your propagator, your local extension agent or university expert.  Follow our “Whitefly Management Program”, and get your whiteflies biotyped.  The biotyping process is fast, and information will be kept absolutely confidential.  Knowing which biotype you are dealing with will help you choose the most effective control products.  (The Management Plan provides a list of addresses to which samples may be sent for biotyping.)  

In the United States , the potentially impacted industries, federal and state governments, and scientists have cooperated in the aggressive, cooperative whitefly management effort to help growers produce a salable crop and minimize the likelihood of developing resistant whiteflies.  You are an essential part of that effort.


REMEMBER:  Q-BIOTYPE WHITEFLIES ARE A DOCUMENTED THREAT, BUT THERE IS ALSO EVIDENCE THAT B-BIOTYPE ARE DEVELOPING RESISTANCE AS WELL.  Only by working cooperatively, wisely, and together can agriculture solve this problem. 







Don't forget that management doesn't end once you ship!  You should make very sure that you take appropriate actions to eradicate any residual whitefly populations while you have the chance!



Whiteflies have long been considered a major pest of ornamental crops.  Until 1986, the primary pest species was the greenhouse whitefly (GHWF), Trialeurodes vaporariorum (Westwood). In 1986, Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) was found attacking an array or ornamental plants in Florida greenhouses.  Scientists in Florida soon realized that this species was causing damage different than any ever attributed to whiteflies.  This damage caused many plants to show signs of being infested because the plants turned yellow, white or silver depending on the specific host plant.  Because various squash species tuned silver when infested with the B-biotype (also known as Bemisia argentifolii Bellows & Perring) this biotype was given the common name, silverleaf whitefly (SLWF).  Throughout the following discussion we will refer to this whitefly as either the B-biotype of Bemisia tabaci or SLWF.


The Q biotype--In March 2005, Dr. Tim Dennehy (University of Arizona) reported the detection of the Q-biotype of Bemisia tabaci.  This detection came after testing whiteflies collected from poinsettia in a retail outlet.  These whiteflies were collected in December of 2004 as part of a pesticide resistance monitoring program in Arizona. Most of the samples had been from cotton and other crops, poinsettia and ornamental crops were not the primary focus of this monitoring program.  Drs. Judy Brown, Tim Dennehy (University of Arizona) and Frank Byrne (University of California) independently verified the whitefly as being the 'Q-biotype'. This is the first time this particular strain has been found in the United States. The Q-biotype is thought to have originated from the Mediterranean region and has been associated with whitefly control problems. Dr. Dennehy determined that the strain of whiteflies collected from the poinsettia (Poinsettia-04) can be characterized as being virtually immune to the IGR pyriproxyfen (Distance), having strikingly reduced susceptibility to the IGR buprofezin (Talus) and a reduced susceptibility to the neonicotinoids insecticides imidacloprid (Marathon or Merit), acetamiprid (TriStar) and thimethoxam (Flagship). 


At this point in time, this strain has not been tested for susceptibility to the other materials registered for whitefly control in ornamentals. It must be noted, that this information is generated using laboratory bioassays and that no field efficacy work has been conducted to determine how these data relate to controlling the Q-biotype in the field, at least in the United States. This biotype is known to have resistance to pyriproxyfen (Horowitz et al. 2003), buprofezin and reduced susceptibility to the neonicotinoid insecticides imidacloprid and acetamiprid in other regions of the world.


Description and Biology

The greenhouse and silverleaf whiteflies are the primary whitefly pests of greenhouse crops. Banded-winged and citrus whiteflies are also found in greenhouses but usually do not reproduce and develop damaging populations.  Whiteflies, when compared to other pests of ornamentals, have a long life cycle, ranging from 2.5 to 3 weeks up to 2 months under cooler conditions.  Adults are moth-like and covered with white, waxy powder.  Adult female whiteflies are about 1/16 of an inch in length and deposit about 50 eggs in cool environments and up to 400 eggs at higher temperatures.  Consequently a whitefly population can reach very high levels in a few generations at higher temperatures.  Eggs are inserted on end upon a short stalk on the underside of leaves.  The eggs are whitish to light beige but darken to a dark blue or purple before hatching.  The immature stages resemble miniature scale insects.  They are flat and oval, glassy to opaque, light yellowish or greenish, and often provided with a fringe of wax filaments.  Older immatures tend to be darker and either cream or yellow.  Newly hatched immature crawlers move around on the leaf for only a few hours and then insert their mouthparts and begin to feed.  The remainder of the immature development is sessile.  Whiteflies feed exclusively on leaves, nearly always occurring on the undersurface.  They suck juices from the plants and also excrete large quantities of honeydew in which sooty mold grows.

Feeding Damage and Symptoms

Whiteflies feed on more than 500 species of host plants.  Greenhouse-grown ornamentals such as poinsettia, hibiscus, ivy, gerbera daisy, lantana, verbena, garden chrysanthemum, salvia and mandevilla are especially susceptible to whitefly damage.  Whiteflies feed on plant phloem by injecting enzymes and removing the sap, reducing the vigor of the plant.  Honeydew secretions from the whitefly promote the growth of sooty mold which also significantly reduces plant quality.  The most obvious whitefly feeding damage symptoms are stem blanching, chlorotic spots, leaf yellowing and shedding and, at high population levels, plant death. In many crops the damage caused by Bemisia tabaci is indirect. This species of whitefly is responsible for transmitting many devastating viruses.

Detection and Sampling

Monitor whitefly population levels by trapping winged adults on sticky cards and inspecting leaves for the presence of feeding immatures.  Strategically place yellow sticky cards throughout the greenhouse, especially near doors and among new plants to provide information about the presence and movement of whiteflies.  Detect whiteflies on plants by randomly selecting 10 plants per 1,000 square feet of greenhouse space and thoroughly examining these plants on the underside of leaves, using a 10X hand lens, for the presence of whitefly adults, nymphs and eggs. Determination of biotypes is accomplished in the laboratory by using sophisticated biochemical techniques. Therefore, growers will have to send preserved whiteflies to one of the participating labs. Currently, this pest is not rated as a pest with quarantine status which means there are no legal requirements for these labs to report their findings. Irrespective of which whitefly biotype you have it's prudent to monitor for whiteflies and develop a Resistance Management Program (RMP).         


Chemical Control.  Insecticides are the primary method used to control whiteflies.  Many compounds have been used, but the systemic Marathon (imadacloprid) has been used most frequently over the past few years.  The newer chemically related compounds Celero (clothianidin), Flagship (thiamethoxam), Safari (dinotefuran),  and TriStar (acetamiprid) are also effective.  Endeavor (pymetrozine), Aria (flonicamid), and the insect growth regulator (IGR) Distance (pyriproxyfen) are new chemical classes that have activity as well.  There are several other effective IGRs: Azatin/Ornazin/AzaDirect (azadirachtin), Enstar II (kinoprene), Pedestal (novaluron), and Talus (buprofezin). The newest material to be registered for whitefly control is Judo (spiromesifen). Tank mixes of orthene (acephate) with a pyrethroid are synergistic, providing better control than either alone.  A few other general insecticides, aerosols and soaps or oils can also be used.  The newly hatched crawlers and the adults are most susceptible to chemicals, but the waxy covering on the larger immatures makes them more difficult to cover thoroughly with spray material.  Resistance is a PROBLEM and every effort should be made to rotate chemicals each time an application is made don’t rely on any one product or chemical class for whitefly control.


Exclude whiteflies from the greenhouse.  Whiteflies are very small.  Screens with a hole size of <0.19mm are required to exclude adult whiteflies.

Be proactive, find them first.  Scout greenhouses by using sticky cards, leaf inspections or random sampling techniques.  Use this information as a basis for decisions for chemical applications.  Start any control practice early, when the first whiteflies are detected.  Control is difficult once populations have increased to high levels.

Biological Control.  Several biological agents are available including predators (i.e. Orius, Delphastus, lacewing larvae, etc.), parasitoids (i.e. Eretmocerus, Encarsia, etc.) or pathogens (i.e. Beauveria bassiana, etc.).  Check with suppliers on compatibility with chemicals and environmental requirements such as temperature, humidity, and daylength. In Florida, Bemisia tabaci is effectively managed on ornamentals and vegetables grown in greenhouses with Encaria transvena. Other potential management tools that you probably are not currently using. One area where nothing is currently being done to manage pests is during transit or shipping of plants. Drs. Lindquist, Oetting, and Osborne obtained significant whitefly reduction by treating whitefly infested cuttings and plants with insect pathogens just prior to boxing and shipping.  A large grower could easily produce their own insect pathogens that would be used throughout the growing season in conjunction with all of the other pesticides being used.  A couple of the largest growers in Florida are currently doing this.  With fungi, it is not a typical case of using either chemical or biological control. YOU CAN USE BOTH ECONOMICALLY.




First of all, don't panic!  Growers that have the Q-biotype in other parts of the world are still producing crops.

Go Back To The Basics And Fine Tune Your Whitefly IPM Program!

Scout- Determine the extent of any whitefly problems. Make sure everyone’s training is up to date and that employees are sensitized to the fact that not all whiteflies are the same. If any populations exist and the numbers or even their presence seems the least bit unusual FIND OUT WHAT YOU HAVE. Studies have shown that in a population that has both Q and B biotypes, increasing pesticide applications will only increase the proportion of the population that are the Q biotype.

Prevention- Don’t let new whiteflies into your operation. You may not be able to prevent movement into your nursery from outside sources but reduce your risk by inspecting new plant material in a secure place so that whiteflies don’t escape. Quarantine all new plant material introduced into your nursery.

Sanitation- Remove sources of infestation that might carry over populations from one season to the next.

Cultural- Grow plants so as to facilitate good pesticide coverage. If possible, try to have a crop free period so as to break any cycling within your nursery.

Physical- Screening, weeding…

Resistance management - a numbers game?

The greater the number of whiteflies present  when an application is made the greater the chance that at least one individual might posses the ability to survive the treatment.

The more frequently a given pesticide or mode of action is used the greater the potential for developing a problem.  Along those same lines, the longer the residual activity the greater the “selection” pressure.

If no virus is involved in the system, then the ultimate goal is not zero whiteflies throughout the production cycle but zero whiteflies on the plant material leaving the facility.  If this statement can be agreed to, then we have a much better chance managing resistance in whiteflies. 

Older recommendations stated that “Insecticides should be applied a minimum of two times at a five to seven day interval to allow for egg hatch between applications so that both adults, nymphs and individuals that hatch from eggs are killed.  This is not appropriate for many of the new pesticides that have residual activity of one week or greater.  If the insecticide is properly applied and is not providing control, change to another material with a different mode of action because whitefly populations have the propensity to develop resistance.  This is why scouting weekly and especially after a pesticide application is critical.

Table 1 includes several examples of insecticides listed according to their chemical classification. Growers must learn from experience which chemicals, when correctly applied, fail to give satisfactory control, and to then try other materials in a different classification.

Often, a severe pest problem occurs on plants in the retail shop because a few eggs, nymphs or adults survived even the best and most conscientiously followed control program during production. It is imperative, therefore, that your most effective pesticide be applied to major whitefly host plants as close to the date of shipment as possible.


There are a number of ways to deal with this issue but the bottom line is; the fewer applications one makes of materials from a given class, the smaller the potential for resistance developing. To that end, what can be done?  First off, I recommend you develop a list of all the pesticides that are legal to use for whitefly control on the crop you are growing.  Next, I suggest that each be evaluated under your particular situation for phytotoxicity.  When you are finished you will have a list, hopefully not too short, from which you can develop a management program. The next problem is to review the labels to find restrictions/limitations on how often a material can be applied to a given crop.  The plan you put together should be based on all of these points and the fact that growers will have to apply materials to manage other pests.  Scouting is essential to the success of any pest management program.



From a resistance management perspective it would seem prudent to treat with those materials highlighted with yellow when the whitefly pressure and numbers are the greatest. Once the population have been reduced then treatment with those materials highlighted with green could be used.  The theory behind this is simple: DON'T USE YOUR BEST MATERIALS AGAINST LARGE POPULATIONS BECAUSE THE LARGER THE POPULATION THE GREATER THE CHANCE OF TREATING A RESISTANT WHITEFLY.

The Mode of Action information was obtained from:

Insecticide Resistance Action Committee Mode of Action Classification


Olympic Horticultural Products Chemical Class Chart

(Chemical Class Chart Vol, XIII)

  1. Not all Q biotypes are going to respond the same to insecticides.  The strain detected by Dennehy was shown to be highly resistant to a number of newer insecticides but this does not mean that all future Q biotypes detected in the US will be comparably resistant.
  2. The Q biotype detected by Dennehy has reduced susceptibility to neonicotinoid insecticides, including imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and acetamiprid.  However, this does not necessarily mean that these chemicals will fail to control the Q biotype, especially under the conditions of treating potted plants.
  3. Based on tests of Q biotypes conducted prior to the detection of the Q biotype in the US, it has been concluded the neonicotinoid insecticide dinotefuran is unaffected by the resistance of the Q biotype to imidacloprid and other neonicotinoids.  However, this result has not yet been confirmed with the Q strain found in AZ.
  4. When Q biotypes are found in the US and “eliminated” with dinotefuran, or any other effective insecticide, this in no way insures that the Q has been eradicated at that location.  There are few examples of eradication of polyphagous, parthenogenetic homopteran pests.


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