Pacific Pests, Pathogens and Weeds - Online edition

Pacific Pests, Pathogens, Weeds & Pesticides

Sweetpotato whitefly (284)

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  • Worldwide distribution. In tropics and sub-tropics. Several strains. On many crops, ornamentals and weeds.
  • Eggs laid on underside of leaves produce 'crawlers' and scale-like larvae, then yellow and white adults.
  • Adults suck sap, fungi grow on honeydew excreta blackening leaves, and spread important viruses.
  • Natural control: predators and parasitoid wasps. 
  • Cultural control: reflective mulches; trap crops; check seedlings for infestations; avoid overlapping crops; weed; monitor; collect and burn trash after harvest.
  • Chemical control: soap, white or horticultural oils; alternatively, PDPs: chilli, neem, or derris. Avoid synthetic insecticides because of development of resistant strains.
Common Name

Sweetpotato whitefly, tobacco whitefly, silverleaf whitefly

Scientific Name

Bemisia tabaci. There are a number of closely related strains (or biotypes) that appear the same as the local strains, but can only be identified by molecular techniques. The two most important are the silverleaf, MEAM1 or B biotype, and the Q or Mediterranean (MED) biotype. The B biotype is also referred to as a different species, Bemisia argentifolii, and more species may be named in the future from within this group. Both spread many viruses, and are resistant to many insecticides.

AUTHOR Grahame Jackson 
Information from CABI (2020) Tobacco whitefly (Bemisia tabaci), and Silverleaf whitefly (Bemisia tabaci (MEAM1)). Invasive Species Compendium. ( &; and Silverleaf whitefly. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. Queensland Government. ( and from De Barro PJ et al. (1998) Distribution and identity of biotypes of Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) in member countries of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. Australian Entomological Society 37, 193-287. Photo 1 Lesley Ingram, Photo 2 Pest and Diseases Image Library, Photo 3 Scott Bauer, USDA Agricultural Research Service. Photo 4 Richard Markham, ACIAR, Canberra.

Produced with support from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research under project PC/2010/090: Strengthening integrated crop management research in the Pacific Islands in support of sustainable intensification of high-value crop production, implemented by the University of Queensland and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

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