It would appear that Southern Florida is not only popular with retirees and college students these days. The area’s resident newcomer is none other than the Whiteflies, which are responsible for the sap-like substance that not only collects on plants, but on pretty much anything left out of doors.
Whiteflies – What are They?
Whiteflies are small, moth-like insects with white wings and piercing-sucking mouthparts. Their main environmental impact is the excretion of honeydew, a sticky, sap-like residue, which covers plant leaves and also helps in the growth of the sooty-mold fungus. First discovered in the area in 2009, the Whitefly, specifically the Rugose Sprialing Whitefly, is likely to survive year round in Southern Florida. While this recent infestation causes concern for the landscape industry, it also negatively affects many other Floridians, namely owners and operators of swimming pools. At this time there appears to be no negative impact to the important agricultural crops, such as the citrus farms. Many horticulturalists believe that unless these crops come under attack, the Whiteflies will continue to be treated as a minor nuisance and no significant actions will be undertaken to eradicate these pests.
In a study that is currently under way in Homesteads, scientists are gathering small wasps which kill the flies. These wasps can be released in order to reduce population of flies; however this proposition is still being reviewed.
There are about seventy five whiteflies in Florida, however Rugose Spiraling whiteflies have become a huge problem that Key West and Monroe County officials are organising workshops to increase awareness and give advice on eradication to pool owners, gardeners, landscapers, or any other individuals the have had whiteflies problems. People who find their cars covered by a sticky silt each day know how bothersome whiteflies hav become.
Why are Whiteflies a problem?
Homeowners are plagued not only by the decline of plants, but also by sticky wax, the honeydew, and the bodies of the dead adult whiteflies are are found on cars, patios, and into swimming pools, clogging the water filters. The clogged filters, along with the sooty-mold fungus also cause changes in the pH balance of the water in the swimming pools, and turning the water unusual colors. In Southwest Florida, many pools are experiencing low to zero chlorine readings as a result of the Whitefly infestation.
What can you do about Whiteflies?
Local Palm Beach County pool services are encouraging all of their customers to acquire pest control services as soon as possible for both prevention and or eradication of these nasty pests. Untreated, whiteflies will severely damage plants, swimming pool and pool filters, creating a need for costly repairs. Additionally, there are many natural and chemical solutions to assist in taking control of the infestation on surrounding plants on which the Whiteflies lay eggs and feed from. Local nurseries and landscapers should be able to assist in selecting the best products for your yard and surrounding area.
One thing that appears to be certain is that the Whiteflies don’t appear to be leaving Southern Florida anytime in the near future.