Citrus Whitefly – Dialeurodes citri

Citrus Whitefly: Appearance, Territory, Damage and Life Cycle

Latin Name: Dialeurodes Citri

Appearance: The citrus whitefly was previously Florida’s most significant citrus pest, but it now ranks lower than the snow scale, citrus rust mite, and numerous others. Whiteflies are small flying insects named for the mealy white wax that covers their wings and bodies. While adult whiteflies seem similar, the juvenile stages are more unique. The pupa and other immature stages of the woolly whitefly are covered with curly, waxy filaments and are only found on the undersides of leaves; bayberry whitefly pupae have a clear wax fringe around the body margin; citrus whitefly pupae have a distinctive Y-shape on their backs; and ash whitefly pupae have a thick band of wax down the back.

Hosts Plants: Although lemon trees are the preferred host, all citrus plants are subject to assault.

Territory: Native to India. It was reported from Virginia to Texas, then westward to California.

Damage Insect Cause: To feed on leaves, whiteflies have a piercing-sucking mouthpart that they push into plant tissue. If populations are dense, leaves may wilt and drop as a consequence of feeding damage. The whiteflies also emit a large amount of honeydew, a delicious sugary substance. The formation of sooty mold fungus on the honey dew causes the leaves and fruit to become black.

Life History and Habits: As late nymphal stages on the undersides of leaves, they travel through winter or colder seasons. These might be on any leftover plants or weeds growing beneath seats. Adults emerge in the spring or when heat is supplied and lay eggs on the undersides of fresh plant growth. Depending on the temperature, these eggs will hatch in 8 to 24 days. The nymphal stage lasts between 23 and 30 days. The overall life cycle from egg to adult will range from 41 to more than 300 days. The adult can survive for up to 27 days.