What Are White Flies Attracted To: Understanding Their Favorite Food Sources

Do you ever notice small, white flies buzzing around your plants? Chances are, they are white flies, and they could be seriously harming your garden. But have you ever stopped to wonder what attracts these little pests in the first place? Understanding their attraction factors could be key to preventing infestations and protecting your plants.

Believe it or not, white flies are actually quite picky when it comes to choosing their homes. They are attracted to certain types of plants, specifically those in the tomato and pepper family. They are also drawn to plants that have yellow or light-colored leaves and those that produce sugary secretions, such as sap. These pests are also more likely to infest outdoor plants than indoor ones, so if you’re struggling with an infestation, it may be time to bring those plants indoors.

It’s important to note that different species of white flies may be attracted to different things, but all in all, they all have one thing in common: they’re attracted to plants in distress. So, if you see a cluster of white flies buzzing around your plants, it’s possible that they may need some extra attention and care. By understanding what attracts white flies, you can take preventative measures and ensure that they don’t harm your beloved garden.

Common Plants Where White Flies Thrive

White flies are tiny insects that can cause significant damage to your garden. They are attracted to several plants, making it difficult to keep them away. Knowing which plants are susceptible to white flies can help you take steps to protect your garden. Below are some common plants where white flies thrive:

  • Tomatoes: White flies love tomato plants, and they are often found in large numbers on the undersides of leaves. They feed on the plant’s sap, which can cause yellowing and curling of the leaves.
  • Cucumbers: These plants are also attractive to white flies, which can cause stunted growth and reduced yields.
  • Peppers: White flies often infest pepper plants, causing leaves to turn yellow and wilt. This can lead to reduced yield and leaf drop.
  • Brassicas: Plants like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower are also susceptible to white fly infestations.

These are just some of the common plants where white flies thrive. However, it is important to remember that white flies can infest almost any plant, including ornamental plants and flowers. If you notice a white fly infestation in your garden, it’s important to take action to prevent the insects from spreading.

Factors that attract white flies to plants

White flies, also known as Aleyrodidae, are tiny flying insects that belong to the order Hemiptera. These insects can cause significant damage to plants by feeding on the sap and transmitting diseases. Understanding what attracts white flies to plants can help gardeners prevent infestations and protect their crops.

What are some factors that attract white flies to plants?

  • Color: White flies are highly attracted to bright colors. They tend to prefer plants with yellow or light-green leaves.
  • Odor: White flies are also attracted to strong-smelling plants. For example, they are known to be particularly attracted to plants in the nightshade family, such as tomatoes and eggplants.
  • Temperature: White flies tend to be more active in warm temperatures. They are more likely to infest plants in summer than in winter.

Signs of white fly infestation on plants

If you suspect that your plants have been infested by white flies, there are some signs to look out for. One of the most noticeable signs is the presence of tiny white insects on the undersides of leaves. As white flies feed on the sap of plants, leaves may turn yellow, wilt, and eventually die. In some cases, white flies can also transmit viruses and fungal diseases to plants.

How to get rid of white flies on plants

If you notice signs of a white fly infestation on your plants, it’s important to take action quickly. Here are some ways to get rid of white flies:

Method Description
Water spray A strong stream of water can dislodge white flies from plants. Repeat this process every few days to prevent reinfestation.
Insecticidal soap A non-toxic insecticidal soap can be sprayed on plants to control white flies. Repeat the treatment every 7-10 days.
Yellow sticky traps Yellow sticky traps can be hung on plants to catch white flies. These traps mimic the color of the plants, which makes them attractive to white flies.
Beneficial insects Introducing natural predators, such as ladybugs or lacewings, can help control white flies. These insects prey upon white flies, which can reduce the infestation.

By understanding what attracts white flies to plants and taking action to prevent and control infestations, gardeners can help protect their plants from damage and disease.

The Role of Temperature and Light in White Fly Attraction

White flies are commonly found in leafy plants and crops, and they are known to cause serious damage to these plants. As a gardener or farmer, it is important to understand what attracts white flies to plants. Temperature and light are two factors that play a significant role in white fly attraction.

Effects of Temperature on White Fly Attraction

White flies are attracted to warm temperatures, and this is because it affects their growth and reproduction. In warmer temperatures, white flies develop faster, and the female white flies lay more eggs. White flies also tend to prefer warmer parts of the plant, such as the top leaves and sunny spots. However, extreme heat can be detrimental to white flies, and they are more attracted to moderate temperatures between 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit.

Effects of Light on White Fly Attraction

  • White flies are attracted to bright light, and this is because they need it for their metabolic activities.
  • They also prefer light with a bluish tint, which is why they tend to congregate near windows with a blue light.
  • In contrast, they are less attracted to yellow lights.

Interplay Between Temperature and Light on White Fly Attractiveness

Temperature and light can interact to affect the attraction of white flies to plants. For instance, white flies are more attracted to plants that receive both high light and temperature because this combination makes the plant more suitable for their development.

Temperature Range Light Intensity White Fly Attraction Level
Low Low Low
High Low Low
Low High Low
High High High

Understanding the relationship between temperature and light intensity is crucial for controlling white fly infestations. Growers should avoid exposing plants to high light and temperature, and instead, create moderate growing conditions to decrease the attractiveness of plants to white flies. This can be done using shading or managing plant placement to reduce sun exposure during the hottest parts of the day.

Natural predators of white flies

White flies are notorious pests that can cause devastating damage to plants in the garden and greenhouse. Fortunately, there are natural predators that can help keep the white fly population under control. Here are some of the most effective predators:

  • Ladybugs: These colorful and beloved beetles are one of the most effective predators of white flies, as well as other pests like aphids and mites.
  • Green lacewings: These delicate insects have a voracious appetite for white flies and other small insects.
  • Parasitic wasps: These tiny wasps attack white flies in their early stages of development, laying their eggs inside the white fly eggs, which eventually kills the white flies.

Using these predators can be a safe and effective alternative to chemical pesticides in controlling white fly populations. However, it is important to note that introducing predators to the garden or greenhouse requires careful planning and monitoring to ensure they are effective and do not harm beneficial organisms in the ecosystem.

For those who want to take a more proactive approach to controlling white flies, here is a table listing some common natural predators and their effectiveness against white flies:

Predator Effectiveness
Ladybugs Highly effective
Green lacewings Highly effective
Parasitic wasps Highly effective
Hover flies Moderately effective
Minute pirate bugs Moderately effective
Predatory mites Moderately effective

Using natural predators is not only safe and effective, but it can also encourage a healthy and diverse ecosystem in the garden or greenhouse. So give these natural enemies a chance to do their job and keep those pesky white flies under control!

Chemical and non-chemical methods to control white flies

White flies are small, winged insects that can cause significant damage to plants by sucking up their sap. Because of this, they are a major pest for farmers and gardeners alike. Fortunately, there are several methods that can be used to control white flies and prevent them from damaging your plants. These methods can be divided into two categories: chemical and non-chemical.

  • Chemical methods: Chemical methods involve the use of pesticides or other chemical compounds to kill white flies. While these methods can be effective, they can also be harmful to the environment and other beneficial insects. Some commonly used chemical methods include:
    • Synthetic pyrethroids, which are insecticides that work by attacking the nervous system of white flies.
    • Neonicotinoids, which are insecticides that are absorbed by the plant and kill white flies when they feed on it.
    • Insecticidal soaps, which are made from fatty acids and can be used to kill white flies by suffocating them.

While chemical methods can be effective in killing white flies, it is important to use them responsibly and follow all safety guidelines. Overuse of pesticides can harm beneficial insects and lead to pesticide resistance in white flies.

  • Non-chemical methods: Non-chemical methods involve the use of physical and biological controls to manage white flies. These methods are generally safer for the environment and can be just as effective as chemical methods. Some commonly used non-chemical methods include:
    • Exclusion netting, which can be used to prevent white flies from accessing plants.
    • Yellow sticky traps, which can be used to trap and kill adult white flies.
    • Natural predators, such as ladybugs and lacewings, which can be released into the garden to eat white flies.

In addition to these methods, cultural practices such as crop rotation and proper plant care can help prevent white fly infestations from occurring in the first place. By planting a diverse range of plants, removing infected plants promptly, and regularly cleaning up fallen plant debris, you can reduce the risk of white fly infestations and keep your plants healthy.


Controlling white flies can be challenging, but with the right methods and practices, it is possible to keep them at bay. Chemical methods can be effective, but should be used with caution to avoid harming the environment and beneficial insects. Non-chemical methods, such as exclusion netting and natural predators, offer a safer and environmentally friendly approach to white fly control. By combining these methods with proper plant care and cultural practices, you can keep your plants healthy and white fly-free.

The impact of white fly infestation on plants

When it comes to pest infestations, white flies are one of the most common and destructive to plants. Although small in size, these tiny insects can cause extensive damage to gardens, crops, and indoor plants. Here are some of the ways in which white fly infestations can negatively impact plants:

  • Reduced growth and yield: White flies feed on the sap of plants, which can lead to stunted growth and reduced yields in crops. They also secrete a sticky substance called honeydew, which attracts mold that can further damage plants.
  • Foliage damage: White flies can cause discoloration, yellowing, and premature dropping of leaves. This can weaken the plant and make it more susceptible to other pests and diseases.
  • Transmission of viruses: In addition to sucking the sap of plants, white flies can also spread viruses between plants. This can be especially devastating for crops, as infected plants may produce lower yields or be rendered unfit for consumption.

Aside from the economic impact of white fly infestations on crops, they can also be a nuisance for home gardeners and indoor plant enthusiasts. Infestations can quickly spiral out of control, leading to significant damage and even death of plants.

To prevent and mitigate the impact of white fly infestations, it’s important to identify and address the problem early on. Regular monitoring of plants, use of natural predators like ladybugs or lacewings, and implementing insecticidal soaps or oils can all be effective management strategies.

Plant species affected by white fly infestations Signs of white fly infestations in plants
Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, melons Discolored leaves, sticky residue on leaves or ground, yellowing leaves, wilting plants, white insects flying around plants
Indoor plants such as poinsettias, hibiscus, and ficus Sticky residue, yellowing leaves, white insects flying around plants, leaf distortion or curling
Ornamental plants such as roses, hibiscus, and citrus trees White insects on undersides of leaves, yellowing leaves, stunted growth, distorted leaves, black sooty mold on leaves

When it comes to managing white fly infestations, prevention and early intervention are key. By taking a proactive approach and implementing effective strategies, gardeners and farmers can protect their plants and minimize the impact of these pesky insects.

The Lifecycle of White Flies and Its Implications on Management Strategies

Understanding the lifecycle of white flies is essential to developing proper management strategies. These tiny, winged insects belong to the Aleyrodidae family and are known for feeding on the sap of plants, causing damage and potentially spreading plant viruses. There are several stages in the white fly lifecycle:

  • Egg – Females lay up to 300 eggs on the undersides of leaves, which are often covered in a white, powdery substance.
  • Nymph – The nymph emerges from the egg and attaches itself to the plant, where it feeds on sap. It goes through four instars or stages, molting and growing larger each time.
  • Pupa – After the fourth instar, the nymph molts into a pupa, which is a non-feeding, inactive stage. The pupa can be recognized as a small, oval shape on the underside of leaves.
  • Adult – The adult white fly emerges from the pupa and begins feeding on sap. It is at this stage that the white fly can become a major pest, causing damage and potentially spreading plant viruses.

It is important to note that the white fly lifecycle can vary depending on species, temperature, and other environmental factors. However, understanding these basic stages can help in developing proper management strategies.

One strategy to combat white flies is to interrupt their lifecycle. This can be done by removing or destroying eggs, nymphs, and pupae. Additionally, introducing natural predators, such as ladybugs or parasitic wasps, can help control white fly populations. Proper sanitation measures, such as cleaning up fallen leaves and pruning infected plants, can also help prevent the spread of white flies.

Stage Duration Development Factors
Egg 5-7 days Temperature, humidity, host plant, and maternal age
Nymph 22-28 days (varies by species) Temperature, host plant, and nutritional quality of plant sap
Pupa 3-5 days Temperature, host plant, and age of nymph when it molts into pupa
Adult Several weeks to several months (varies by species) Temperature, host plant, and availability of suitable mates and food sources

Understanding the lifecycle of white flies can help develop effective management strategies to control their populations and prevent damage to plants. By interrupting their lifecycle, introducing predators, and practicing proper sanitation measures, white fly infestations can be managed and controlled.

FAQs about What Are White Flies Attracted To

1. What plants do white flies love?

White flies are naturally attracted to plants with soft green leaves. Some of their favorites include tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, and many other backyard garden plants.

2. Are white flies attracted to light?

No, white flies are not naturally attracted to light. Their behavior is driven more by the presence of other white flies and the scent of aromatic plants.

3. What smell attracts white flies?

White flies are attracted to the odor of plants that have high nitrogen levels. These include plants like the tomato, the cucumber, and the sweet potato.

4. Are white flies attracted to sticky traps?

Yes, white flies are attracted to sticky traps. These are a common method of controlling the spread of white fly infestations in backyard gardens.

5. Why are white flies attracted to plants?

White flies are attracted to plants because the plants provide them with food and shelter. Adult white flies feed on the sap of plants, and their larva live and feed on the underside of leaves.

6. Can white flies be attracted to indoor plants?

Yes, white flies can be attracted to indoor plants that have the characteristics white flies are drawn to. These include soft green leaves and high nitrogen levels in the soil.

7. Are white flies attracted to white flowers?

No, white flies are not naturally attracted to white flowers. They are much more interested in plants with an abundance of soft green leaves.

Closing Thoughts

Thanks for reading about what white flies are attracted to. Remember, if you want to protect your backyard garden, try using sticky traps, controlling the growth of soft green-leaved plants, and implementing a regular fertilization schedule to manage the nitrogen levels in the soil. Good luck, and don’t forget to come back for more helpful pest-control articles.