A number of different small white bugs infest flowers. The damage that they cause varies depending on the type of plant and the insect pest. Gardeners control nuisance pests with a combination of cultural and chemical controls.
Whiteflies are tiny winged insects with white wings and yellowish bodies. They often appear in clusters on the lower surfaces of leaves. Mealybugs are less than 1/4 inch long. Their flattened, oval-shaped bodies are covered in a white waxy substance. Springtails are between 1/16 and 1/8 inches long; they have elongated bodies and range in color from metallic-green to white.
Whiteflies and mealybugs have piercing and sucking mouthparts. They pierce foliage and drain sap from flowering plants, causing dry, yellow leaves, distortion, leaf loss and stunted growth. They also exude a sticky, sweet liquid called honeydew that makes the leaves sticky to the touch. Springtails, which live in damp locations, chew on young plant foliage and roots.
Gardeners control whiteflies and mealybugs by pruning out severely infested leaves, spraying plants with a steady stream of water, and spraying flowering plants with horticultural soaps, oils or insecticides. They control springtails by removing moist dead leaves and mulch where the insects hide.
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