The flowers on Hibiscus trees are gorgeous, short-lived, and tasty when made into an herbal tea. But if you begin to notice growing populations of winged bugs on the undersides of leaves and around your hibiscus plants, you may be dealing with whiteflies.
Whiteflies can feed on your hibiscus leaves and flowers, causing massive damage as they go. As such, you’ll need to know how to get rid of whiteflies on hibiscus – Before they come back for lunch and dinner!
What Are Whiteflies?
Whiteflies may have wings and be able to fly, but they’re not a part of the fly family. Instead, they’re more closely related to plant lice or aphids. These insects are shaped like triangles, and are quite small. Adult females are on about 1/16 of an inch.
There are also giant whiteflies (Aeleyrodicus dugesii). Giant whiteflies came from Mexico, have white wings with a gray mottling and measure about .19″ in size. Giant whiteflies love hibiscus plants.
Though they may be small, they don’t usually arrive in small numbers. Whitefly populations grow fast because whiteflies can reproduce every 30 days or so.
With an average lifespan of two months, they have the ability to lay several hundred eggs. This means a single breeding pair of adult whiteflies could produce more than 400 individual offspring. That’s a lot of mouths to feed.
Whiteflies consume sap, and because they’re typically grouped into large colonies, they can inflict a lot of damage on nearby plant life.
They’ve become a substantial issue for those living in the Southeastern states like South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
These areas don’t usually get cold enough to kill existing populations, allowing for growing numbers that continue to worsen each year.
Sadly, there’s little that hibiscus lovers can do to completely avoid whiteflies. Hibiscus plants thrive in warmer, humid climates, just like whiteflies.
What Damage Do Whiteflies Cause?
Unlike more aggressive insects that might munch through plants, whiteflies suck the sap and chlorophyll from the leaves of the host plant. This causes the leaf to die and fall off.
A large infestation could cause a green, thriving Hibiscus tree to turn into a bare, skeletal series of limbs and twigs.
For this reason, both farmers and gardeners do everything they can to get rid of them. Fortunately for those in colder climes, whiteflies may only be an occasional season problem.
In many areas of the United States where heavy snowfall is common, whiteflies simply don’t exist.
But those in the Southern states or in warmer areas of the United States may be quite familiar with these small, moth-like creatures.
Not only can whiteflies kill a gorgeously green garden by consuming the sap and chlorophyll there, but they can also spread disease.
The types of diseases whiteflies carry and spread aren’t directly harmful to humans.
Instead, these bacteria and viruses can wipe out the plants around your home and garden. If you rely on those plants for food and subsistence, then whiteflies could be dangerous to your livelihood.
If a few hundred whiteflies munch on diseased plants down the road, then fly to your property and begin snacking, you may need to treat your whole garden before replanting.
Mold, fungus, and bacteria are difficult to see, but they can destroy the plants around your home.
When one plant is infected with fungus or mildew, the ones near it are soon to follow. As such, whitefly infestations can cause a tremendous amount of damage anywhere they go.
How to Control Whiteflies on Hibiscus
There are several different ways to control whiteflies attacking your hibiscus plants.
Forceful Water Sprays
The first thing to try is a simple washing of the entire plant with a blast of water. Using a garden hose, take several minutes to spray the underside of leaves on your hibiscus plant.
This will dispel eggs or living adults crawling around. Should you decide to wash your hibiscus leaves on a weekly or monthly basis, you may find whiteflies, aphids, and spider mites seem to vanish.
Be sure to wash with low-pressure stream of water.
Sticky coated yellow traps is another method to try in a small area. The whiteflies are attracted to the brilliant yellow color and stick to the tape.
Spray Of Insecticides
You may also want to try an insecticidal soap when pressurized water isn’t enough. Some soaps are made for specific pests or plants.
It’s vital to double-check before application. Insecticidal soaps and washes can be dangerous when incorrectly applied.
When spraying be sure to cover the stems, the upper leaf surfaces and the undersides of leaves as well.
If you’re eager to avoid a chemical solution like pesticides, and plain water just isn’t cutting it, you could try earthworm castings. When small amounts are applied to the base of your hibiscus plant, pests and critters may begin to stay away.
However, this is a long-term solution.
Should you find that whiteflies continue to return and plague your hibiscus plants, consider where your plant is located and how healthy it is.
Plants that experience recurrent whitefly problems tend to be nestled in a poor environment, making them prone to illness.