The azalea is a perennial flowering shrub. According to the Azalea Society of America, the azalea offers hundreds of cultivars large and small, with color shades including white, pinks, orange and purple. These azaleas face a common pest known as the whitefly.
Whiteflies are tiny sap-sucking insects that lay eggs on the underside of leaves. They damage azaleas by feeding on the plant, leaving sticky residue that spreads black sooty fungus, and carries plant disease.
Whitefly treatments vary from physical removal by hand picking, vacuuming or hosing off insects to sticky traps, insecticidal soap sprays and systemic controls.
Some treatments, like physical removal, immediately dislodge or kill visible adult whiteflies. Insecticidal soaps or sprays kill within hours of contact. Other treatments, like systemic granules, are worked into the soil and take three to four weeks for effective control.
Physical or non-toxic treatments work temporarily on adult whiteflies. Insecticidal soaps are moderately effective for short-term infestations of adults and larvae. Systemic sprays or soil granules provide life cycle control for a season as they are absorbed by plants and kill feeding insects.
Light infestations are usually controlled by natural predators, such as whitefly parasites and beetles. Insecticidal sprays may discourage or kill beneficial insects that feed on whiteflies and other azalea pests. A combination of non-toxic and physical treatments is effective for most whiteflies.
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