The Fig Whitefly
You don’t have to cut down your trees because of Fig Whitefly infestation.
Whiteflies are small, winged insects that belong to the Order Hemiptera which also includes aphids scales and mealybugs. These insects typically feed on the underside of leaves with their “needle-like” mouthparts and can seriously injure host plants by sucking juices from them causing wilting, yellowing, stunting, leaf drop, or even death.
The leaves of ficus trees infested with whiteflies begin to turn yellow before the leaves are dropped from the plant. Ficus trees without their leaves are one of the most obvious symptoms of a whitefly infestation. This whitefly has been most commonly found infesting weeping fig but has also been seen on banyan trees. Other hosts include the strangler fig, Cuban laurel, fiddle-leaf fig and banana-leaf fig. This whitefly may eventually be found on other species of ficus.
If the foliage is disturbed the small, white gnat-like adult whiteflies can be seen flying from the foliage. The adult whitefly resembles a very small moth with a yellow body and white wings with a faint grey band in the middle of the wings. Immature stages (eggs and nymphs) can be found primarily on the underside of the leaves. The underside of infested leaves look like they are dotted with small, silver or white spots which are actually the empty “skin” of the pupae after the adult emerges.
Although your ficus tree or hedge may appear to be dying after losing most of it leaves, it may still be alive. If the twigs are still supple, the plant will produce new leaves in a few weeks. As soon as new growth is evident, a systemic insecticide applied to the soil may provide protection to the new growth.
If you suspect that you have Fig Whiteflies on your property, Earthcare Landscape Services can teak measures to save your trees and prevent future infestations.