How to get rid of White Flies
White flies are a plague that can wreak absolute havoc on your plants and you have to take preventive measures when planting outside; it’s also very recommendable to do so indoors. Finishing off these pests is quite hard due to the fact that they multiply rapidly thanks to their short life span and fast reproduction rates.
Just one female can lay anywhere between 80 and 300 eggs, and if just one of them ends up on your plants they’ll be covered pretty soon. The eggs take just 6 days to hatch and 28 more days to become adults capable of reproducing. Before they reach the adult phase, they have to go through 4 development phases, and after those 4 phases the white fly will be a reproducing adult. Phase one (from the 1st to the 4th day), phase two (from the 5th to the 10th day), phase three (from the 11th to the 17th day) phase four or pupae (from the 18th to the 28th day). After 28 days of development, these flies are adults and begin reproducing.
White flies eat the sap from the plants, making them weaker as well as causing them to lose quantity and quality when harvested. They defecate underneath the leaves, leaving black stains all over; this can also increase chances of a fungi infection, especially a particular black fungus that grows all over the leaves called sooty mold. Sooty mold can end up completely covering the leaves on your plants, meaning that there’ll be less of a surface from which to absorb light. This directly affects photosynthesis, making for much weaker plants.
The best thing to do is to take preventive measures against white flies so that you don’t have to get rid of them down the road. The best thing you can do for your plants is to spray them with Neem oil which will guarantee that no white fly will go near your crop. You’ll need to use it once every 20 days if growing indoors and once every 10 days if growing it outdoors. Another way of preventing white fly plagues and other sorts of insects is to use reflective yellow strips that trap flies that might be buzzing around your crop.
If your plants are outside it’s much easier for these flies to attack; they tend to go from crop to crop, regardless of plant type due to how they drink the sap of almost any kind of tree/plant. If you place yellow sticky strips around your plant you can avoid a whole lot of problems, and you’ll also need to apply Neem oil every 10 days.
Once the infestation has made its home, you’re going to need to do a bit of work and remove as many eggs as you can; these are little white-yellow balls on the underside of the leaves on your plant. This is done by using Neem oil and a sponge. Once you’re done, spray the entire plant with Neem oil again. After a week, spray your plants again to make sure there’s nothing left. New flies won’t want to land on your plants either, as the smell of Neem oil keeps them away and they prefer any other plant that doesn’t smell like Neem. Now you just need to spray every 10 days as a preventive measure until there’s about a month left until harvest. Also, if you place sticky fly traps around your garden they should trap any intruders trying to get to your plants.
If you’ve treated it and used preventive measures and they’re still not going away, then you’ll need to attack the plague by using chemical insecticides or they will be everywhere in no time. If your plants are resistant to neem, then you’re going to need to spray the plant from top to bottom and underneath the leaves with potassium soap. What this soap does is it softens the outer shell of the flies so that the insecticide can get in easily. After an hour of applying the soap, apply the pesticide. I use a multipurpose pesticide that can be used in irrigation and spraying; the plant absorbs it and the insects that try and eat the plant will then die. Remember, when you use chemical products you need to respect the safety period, and stop using them when indicated so that you don’t end up smoking or consuming leftover chemicals.
The first thing you’re going to need to do is to hang some sticky traps for any wandering insects that might come into your house; this is honestly the most simple but most effective preventive measure. As a preventive pesticide indoors you’re more than likely always going to have to use chemical products as plagues can live for generations and generations if they find their way inside your grow room, sticking around for quite a while. You’ll need to spray your plants with a multipurpose pesticide that can take care of any kinds of insects. If it’s already hard for your plants to get inside, and when they do they have to contend with the sticky traps, then it’ll be even harder for them to make a home if you spray this pesticide on your plants. Once the flowering period has begun you can stop spraying them. Plants that are still in the growth period need to be sprayed every 20 days; you can also incorporate the pesticide to your irrigation water but I personally prefer to spray them than to put the pesticide in the actual soil, as it probably leaves much more residue.
If your indoor grow has already been infested, then begin by placing the sticky fly traps. Then you’ll need to try and kill as many of them as you can by hand, using a sponge that’s been soaked in pesticide along the underside of the leaves to kill the eggs, and then spray the plant with potassium soap to soften up the flies. After an hour, just like with outdoor crops, apply the pesticide through spraying also. You’ll manage to get rid of most of them, maybe even all, and a second round of this treatment after a week should kill them all off. You can keep spraying every 20 days as a preventive measure as long as your plants are in the growth period. If you’ve killed the infestation off and your plants are flowering, we don’t recommend spraying them any more as it can affect the taste of your final product, as well as being potentially bad for your health.
As you can see this kind of insect plague is pretty easy to prevent, but if it manages to get into your crop it will rapidly multiply and become extremely difficult to get rid of. The best thing to do is to prevent it from the beginning, because even if you do manage to get rid of them quickly, you’ll notice their presence in the amount and quality of the yield.
Translation: Ciara Murphy