Introducing the Palm Beach County Whitefly Task Force

Healthy plant material - not just a thing of the past!

As you know, Ficus, Rugose Spiraling, and Silverleaf Whiteflies have become a major issue in South Florida.  Each has its own favorite plants to feed and reproduce on.  In addition to the damage younger stages of these whiteflies cause by feeding on plants, they produce a sticky substance called honeydew, which can support the growth of sooty mold, and ultimately, a big mess and unsightly plant material.

Difficulty associated with managing this pest is caused by a number of factors such as:

  • Inappropriate application methods or rates of pesticides (some labels can be extremely difficult to read for determining application rates for hedge materials)
  • Assumption that adult whiteflies are causing the damage (its actually the younger stages that cause the problem)
  • Misdiagnosis of whitefly problem or compounded plant stresses caused by recent harsh winds, drought, extremely cold winters, etc.

Whiteflies are not cause for severe alarm as they are just one of many pests that are or will become part of living in a subtropical climate.  They can be controlled with proper application of pesticides and by other organisms.  As a response to this family of pest problems, a Whitefly Working Group has been established to meet the needs of residents, professionals, and other decision-makers in Palm Beach County.  This working group is organized by University of Florida faculty and local industry.   Short and long-term management plans and educational materials are being developed by the team in conjunction with local media, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the United States Department of Agriculture–Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service–Plant Protection and Quarantine (USDA–APHIS–PPQ).

Please watch the IFAS Palm Beach County Extension: Environmental Horticulture blog and our newly established  Palm Beach County Whitefly Taskforce webpage for updates.

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