Those tiny moth-looking insects in your garden are more damaging than they seem. Whiteflies can lay hundreds of eggs at a time, reproducing fast and quickly taking over your hydroponic garden.
Here’s how to identify a whitefly infestation and rid them from your hydroponic garden, saving your plants!
What Are Whiteflies?
Whiteflies are small white or yellowish winged insects that resemble tiny moths. They can lay hundreds of eggs which typically hatch in 5 to 10 days. The larva, called crawlers, attach themselves to the underside of the leaves until after their pupal stage in which they fly off to continue the cycle.
With such high reproduction numbers, it doesn’t take long for an infestation to occur, taking over your hydroponic garden. Whiteflies are known to be especially fond of tomato and pepper plants.
How Whiteflies Affect Your Hydroponic Garden
The whitefly is a sap-sucking pest, feeding on your hydroponic garden throughout most of its life cycle. The whiteflies feeding will stunt the plant and eventually cause the affected leaves to wilt and drop off. They excrete honeydew from eating sap, which attracts other pests and diseases as well.
Aside from the physical damage, whitefly bites the plants susceptible to pathogens, and whiteflies are known for transmitting several plant viruses.
How To Determine If You Have Whiteflies In Your Hydroponic Garden
Whitefly infestations are can be difficult to identify in their early stages. The crawlers easily blend into the plant making them pretty hard to see. You will most often notice a whitefly infestation in your hydroponic garden when the whitefly in its adult stage.
Whiteflies can often be found hanging out in clusters on the underside of your hydroponic plant’s leaves. If your garden is indoors, take out your vacuum and use the wand to suck up the adult whiteflies before beginning to treat the infestation.
How To Save Your Hydroponic Garden From Whiteflies
Sticky traps are a great tool to use as a first step in addressing several pest issues, including whiteflies. They can be used to catch the adult whiteflies, hopefully before they lay any eggs.
I like to have sticky traps set up in my garden even before I notice any pest issues. In addition to maybe catching a whitefly or fungus gnat before it can lay eggs, it can also give you an early heads up on a brewing infestation.
Spray Down Your Plants
If your plants are outside, it’s worth trying to rinse the whiteflies and their nymphs off your plants. Getting out the hose and spraying down your plants can remove whiteflies and their nymphs
With small infestations, sometimes a soapy spray is all you need to rid your garden of spider mites. You can mix up a batch or purchase some insect-killing soap already mixed up, that way you know you’re using a spray that’s pant safe.
Soap spray will need to be repeated daily for 7 to 10 days.
Neem oil is a plant-safe organic option for ridding your hydroponic garden of spider mites. Just mix with water and use as a foliar spray.
If you have a heavy infestation you may want to step it up a notice with Azamax. The active ingredient in Azamax is a single compound that is also derived from the neem tree. It’s been found to work even better when used along with neem oil. It’s also foliar spray that is mixed with water.
Adding Predatory Bugs to Your Garden
The last remedy I would recommend is for those growing in a greenhouse. That is unless you don’t mind bugs flying around your home.
Introducing predatory insects can be an effective way of ridding your garden of whiteflies and other harmful pests. Ladybugs and other beneficial bugs love to feed on whiteflies and other garden pests.
While whiteflies are a nuisance and one that can cause some real damage, your garden can be saved. Just like with any issue, catching a whitefly infestation in your hydroponic garden early makes solving it a lot easier.