Whiteflies are a common pest found on a variety of plant life. Once the larva emerges from the egg, it immediately starts to feed on plants and causes damage. The insects also leave a trail of sweet-smelling compounds, which attract other insects. Whiteflies can infest a garden or a greenhouse. Control of the whitefly is critical, because a commercial greenhouse will lose plants -- and profits -- from an infestation. Various methods of control are available.
Predatory insects eat whiteflies, but do not eat plants. One popular predatory insect is the preying mantis, which is used by gardeners as a natural means of pest control. Maureen Gilmer of "Home and Garden Television" states that preying mantises emerge fully formed from the egg and begin feeding right from birth. Another predatory insect is the ladybug. Both species of insects can be obtained from gardening or greenhouse supply companies.
Various pesticides kill a variety of pests, including whiteflies. Azadirachtin, an extract of the neem seeds, is effective for whitefly and aphid control. If you are going to use pesticides on certified organic plants, be sure the particular type of chemical is also certified organic.
Experts at U-Spray, Inc. recommend traps for whitefly control. These traps are coated with glue, so when whiteflies land on the traps, the flies will stick and die. Various types of traps can be used for different pests, but yellow-colored traps attract whiteflies. The glue on the traps will not leave chemical deposits on plants, since the glue is on the trap.
Plants breathe in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. Animals breathe in oxygen and give off carbon dioxide. Altering the atmosphere in a greenhouse will kill off whiteflies, according to Dr. Susan Han of the University of Massachusetts. This is done by first closing off the greenhouse. The enclosed area is flooded with carbon dioxide and depleted of air, which contains oxygen. The plants are not affected, since they breathe in carbon dioxide, but all whiteflies and other insects will die. A two-hour exposure time killed all whiteflies in an experiment, but eight hours was needed to kill about 80 percent of the pupae and eggs.
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