Pesky Pests: White Flies

You've ordered french fries, after your friend said didn't want french fries. Only to then have them sneaking them off your plate before... Or you've been the person to not order your own fries. *guilty* This is how I feel when it comes to pests in my garden. Don't get me started...

As an organic gardener I try to go the least evasive route when it comes to pest management. This often means allowing the pests to do their damage in hopes that the ecosystem will bring in a garden friend and balance out.

Hello Vegheads,

This year has been a particularly had year for white flies in our area. My parents, grandmother and even my local nursery have been battling white flies. I was aware that I had some white flies, but they hadn't really posed a problem until I pulled out my summer garden and began planting my fall garden. They attacked my seedlings and ultimately ended up killing or at least stunting the growth of some of my plants.

This is a photo that really shows the extent of damage I allowed my garden to endure. I was devastated. While watering my garden around dusk, you could watch all the little white flecks dancing around the backyard. We didn't just see this in our backyard. One morning, we were driving through our downtown area and we saw it there too. I began looking for answers and saw that white flies was a pest that I had in my garden. I turn to my husband who first taught me about gardening. He told me that Neem Oil is what he used for mites and that he thought it would work for White flies.

As it turns out Neem oil manages a lot of pests included, mites, white flies, leaf miners, cabbage worms, and aphids. It works by repelling the insects. While it claims to not be harmful to bees, butterflies, earthworms and lady bugs. It should not be directly sprayed on flowers or soaked into the ground.

The little white flies can be seen on the under sides of leaves. This photo shows my parents broccoli just days after I transplanted them at her house. My father had placed the aluminum foil around the seedlings. Which seemed to help a little but as you can see above. Only got rid of maybe about half of the insects. I took a bottle of neem oil and after only one application on their young plants seemed to do the trick. Mine were not as easily deterred.

The neem oil that we purchased came in a concentrate and was pretty inexpensive. This was definitely a better option for us, as I'd go through about half of the bottle after dousing all of my plants with it. I was applying it only to the plants that had been affected, which was all but two. The affected plants of mine were the strawberries, beans, peas, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers, spinach, and herb bed. I applied the neem oil every three or so days. It took about 5 applications for me before I could say that I had managed the problem. I continued to spray affected plants as a preventative measure until recently when our temperatures began to drop and I've been seeing less problems.

As with most pesticides, I only like to use it when I feel when it is absolutely needed. This was the case with my fall garden this year. However in the future, I will not spray it on leafy things such as lettuce and herbs. I just don't feel comfortable eating something that I know I had previously sprayed an oil that it not meant to eat and frankly does not taste good. (Note: I enjoy my garden snacks fresh off the plant, my strawberries I had been enjoying right off the vine. I forgot about possible over spray of the neem oil onto the fruit.) For this reason I probably will also avoid using it on plants that are fruiting or minimally on ones I enjoy right off the plant.

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