Small White Bugs on Flowers

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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.

Types

  • 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.

Effects

  • 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.

Control

  • 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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