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Tobacco whitefly

The tobacco whitefly Bemisia tabaci is a real nightmare for many growers as this common pest has spread in many crops and (sub)tropical regions. Also in Western Europe and North America, this pest poses a serious threat, especially in crops grown under artificial lighting. It is not easy to get rid of this species due its high resistance to insecticides. That’s why biological solutions are key!

What damage can the tobacco whitefly cause?

  • Larvae and adults suck plant sap.
  • Secretion of honeydew fouls the leaves and fruit.
  • Often mould grows on the honeydew, which slows down the photosynthesis of the plant.
  • Tobacco whitefly spread several destructive plant viruses such as TYLCV and CYDV.
  • They can also cause several physiological disorders such as TIR in tomato.

How to control the tobacco whitefly?

To monitor the tobacco whitefly, you can rely on Biobest’s Bug-Scan.

For biological control of this species, you can introduce: 

To boost the population establishment of your beneficials, you can use feed supplements such as:

What are the characteristics of the tobacco whitefly?

  • The yellow and oval shaped eggs are 0.18 mm long and turn light brown after 2 to 3 days.
  • The first larval stage of 0.25 mm is mobile until the whitefly settle on the leaves and the later larval and pupal stages do not move anymore.  
  • Pupae are 0.8 mm long, yellowish transparent, irregularly shaped, flat and have no waxy hairs in comparison to the greenhouse whitefly.
  • Adults are present on the entire plant at the bottom of the leaves, where the eggs are laid.
  • The yellowish adults are 1 mm long with vertically positioned wings along their body.
  • Adults emerge from the pupa through a T-shaped hole.

What about the tobacco whitefly’s life cycle?

  • Female adults start laying eggs 1 to 3 days after hatching.
  • Their fertility depends on the temperature and the host plant e.g. 130 eggs on tomato and cucumber.
  • Tobacco whiteflies have 6 development stages: egg, 4 larval stages and adult.
  • It takes them about 22 days to develop from egg to adult at 26 °C/79 °F but it can take up to 70 days at 16 °C/61 °F.
  • At 30 °C/86 °F, the conditions are optimal and the whitefly already develops in 18 days.
  • Adults can live 2 weeks at higher temperatures up to 2 months under colder conditions.

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