Did you happen to encounter these pests in your garden this season? Here at Guerrilla Gardening we sure did, especially on our brassicas (Kale, Cauliflower, etc.). But fear not, we’ll help explain what these so called “flies” do to your precious Lacinato as well as steps to prevent it from happening again next season.
Whiteflies have this way of sucking the life out of your plant and they tend to gross the family out when cooking. Bugs are definitely not part of any recipe(well recipes that I know). In small doses, the whitefly isn’t that detrimental to the plant but when they take over, they take over.
The technical name for these pests is Cabbage Whitefly, Aleyrodes Brassier. These small white-winged insects live on the underside of leaves, and fly up in clouds when disturbed. Adult whiteflies are structurally similar in appearance to aphids, but are covered in mealy grey hairs and have white wings.
The young whitefly, known as ‘scales’, stay on the leaves. The flies themselves don’t cause severe damage, but the sticky honeydew or sugary excretions they produce can disfigure the plants. This is not so much to do with the honeydew itself but the sooty or black molds which grow on the honeydew. The sooty molds will spoil flower buds, ex. on Brussels sprouts, and will prevent leaves from photosynthesizing. Not good.
According to PlanetNatural.com, these following methods would be best for controlling whitefly populations:
- Yellow sticky traps are helpful for monitoring and suppressing adult populations.
- If found, use the Bug Blaster to hose off plants with a strong stream of water and reduce pest numbers.
- Natural predators of this pest include ladybugs and lacewing larvae, which feed on their eggs and the whitefly parasite which destroys nymphs and pupae. For best results, make releases when pest levels are low to medium.
- If populations are high, use a least-toxic, short-lived organic pesticide to establish control, then release predatory insects to maintain control.
- Safer® Soap will work fast on heavy infestations. A short-lived natural pesticide, it works by damaging the outer layer of soft-bodied insect pests, causing dehydration and death within hours. Apply 2.5 oz/ gallon of water when insects are present, repeat every 7-10 day as needed.
- Organic Neem Oil can be sprayed on vegetables, fruit trees and flowers to kill eggs, larvae and adults. Mix 1 oz/ gallon of water and spray all leaf surfaces (including the undersides of leaves) until completely wet.
- Fast-acting botanical insecticides should be used as a last resort. Derived from plants which have insecticidal properties, these natural pesticides have fewer harmful side effects than synthetic chemicals and break down more quickly in the environment.
Feeling crafty? Why not try this homemade concoction of garlic spray:
1 head of garlic
1 bunch of green onions
Chop up garlic and green onions.
Steep in hot water.
Strain into a spray bottle.
Spritz your plants, don’t forget the underside of the leaves.
Whiteflys despise garlic, go ahead an try it yourself and see how it goes.!