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Whether you consider it an invasion or infestation, the whiteflies are a destructive nuisance for Southeast Florida residents.

Whiteflies are small winged insects with needle-like mouthparts that feed on the underside of leaves. They suck the nutrients out of the plants causing wilting, yellowing, leaf drop and the death of some plants.   The Spiraling Whitefly attacks a wide variety of palms and fruit trees, and is giving us a unique set of problems.

One of the problems created by the Whitefly is that swimming pools are turning green.  I found that pools had an excess of Whitefly floating in them and that the Whitefly was producing a lot of honey dew.  The honey dew neutralizes the pool chemicals and causes the algae to run wild. The second part of the pool problem has been that in bad infestations so many are floating in the pool they are clogging the pool pumps.  The third problem is that if you wash your car today and in a day or two it has white stuff and clear sticky droppings on it, the culprit is also the Whitefly.

There are so far basically two successful treatments that I have found for the Spiraling Whitefly.

First is a systemic root injection that includes both chemical and fertilizer. A pipe is put in the ground and under pressure approximately 10 gallons of the treatment is pumped into the ground. The roots pick up the solution and carry it to the tree canopy where it destroys the Whitefly.  It usually takes 10 days or so for solution to reach the canopy.  Because of this, I suggest a topical spray also be applied when doing a root injection to the palms.  The topical spray will immediately kill the majority of Whitefly currently on the tree.  Depending on the infestation, it may look like it’s snowing as soon as the topical spray is applied.  How long will it last?  Good question; we are not sure, but at this time we think 3 to 6 months, maybe longer, depending on how long the  Whitefly infestation continues.

The second treatment is with an Arborjet trunk injection. This requires drilling a 3/8” hole in the palm trunk reaching the vascular system of the tree.  This hole is about 4’ above the ground.  An Arborjet plug that is barely visible is installed in this hole and stays in the tree.  Through this plug a specific amount of an Arborjet chemical is applied by syringe into the tree.  Arborjet has come up with a pharmaceutical level flow agent that allows the chemical to flow from the injection site to the canopy in 24 to 36 hours.  One big advantage is that all of the chemical is in the tree and not subject to rain dilution.  Arborjet claims their chemical will last 9 to 12 months. If there is any re-infestation, a booster injection can be given through the original plug.

Whichever treatment you choose, the sooner you treat your palms the better they will look and the safer they will be.

This article has been contributed
by Corby Davis, Professional Pest Solutions

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