Tuesday, January 31, 2012

White Fly Torment

Rage people, rage. That's all I can say. White Flies are killing some of my favorite edible plants. Last Spring, I got the most beautiful jalapeno plant from Bedner's Farms in Delray and it produced prolifically. I had to pickle the peppers because there were so many and I didn't want them to go to waste, but soon my plant started looking sick and I saw that the undersides of its leaves were covered in this weird white dusty stuff. I had no idea what it was. I soon learned about white flies, a common and extremely annoying pest to South Florida gardeners. The flies lay their eggs on the undersides of certain leaves and the resulting larvae hook their mouth into the leaves and suck out all the juice, eventually killing the plant.

White flies suck.

My jalapeno plant died, but only because I didn't know what to do. Now, I'm a little more prepared to deal with the nasty little parasites and just in time because they've infested my guava and my Florida Hass trees. I'm going to wipe them out this time.

I sought advice from some gardening experts I met at the Bonnet House orchid festival in mid-December. To get rid of white flies you can easily use a variety of pesticides, but I don't like chemicals and refuse to use them, especially with a baby who likes to wander around the gardening sampling all the treats she finds. I want to get rid of white flies safely. The experts recommended several solutions and here they are in list form:

Ways to Safely Eradicate White Fly

1. Plant marigolds around the plants the white flies have infested. They hate the smell of the flowers.

2. Plant rosemary too. Same as above. Bonus - you can eat the rosemary. Yum.

3. Grate a bar of Ivory soap into water and let it dissolve. Add vegetable oil to the mixture and spray the infected leaves daily. Apparently just using Ivory Liquid doesn't work because it's different from the bar variety.

4. Blast the SOBs off with the hose every day. I've been enjoying this method considerably.

5. Spray the leaves with Neem Oil. Neem oil is an all natural and very stinky oil from India that is used as an insect deterrent. I've also heard that it can be effective in treating yourself if you get scabies or chiggers, which I hope you never do because they're worse than white flies.

6. Douse your plants with sour milk. This method is less appealing to me because it's gross and because it's a waste of good food.

7. Pee on your plants. I'm not kidding. I wish I were. The gardening experts actually said this, though I think this method would be much easier for a man than a woman and really, do you want to be peeing all over your yard? I'm not sure that's a good idea. It might offend your neighbors.

Good Luck banishing your pests. Please let me know if anyone has any other ideas on how best to kill these stupid things. I'm on a mission. White flies, you're going down.

More white fly info here.


  1. Thanks for sharing. I've been having the same problem with the whiteflies eating my mango tree :( I was hosing them off every day. I will try the oil/ Ivory mix see what happens.

  2. Might explain why I've never had this problem...I'm always peeing in my yard.