Rugose Spiraling Whitefly Diagnostic Guide
Rugose Spiraling Whitefly, Aleurodicus rugioperculatus, is an exotic pest from Central America. It has been found only in Florida thus far, but is sure to spread beyond Florida’s borders. This pest is a different species of whitefly than the whitefly species that is currently infesting Ficus in this part of the country.
Trees at Risk
Common hosts include: Acalypha wilkesiana (Copperleaf), Annona sp. (Sugarapple), Araucaria heterophylla (Norfolk island pine), Bucida buceras (Black olive), Bursera simaruba (Gumbo limbo), Calophyllum species, Catharanthus roseus (Madagascar periwinkle), Chrysobalanus icaco (Cocoplum), Chrysophyllum oliviforme (Satinleaf), Cocos nucifera (Coconut palm), Conocarpus erectus (Buttonwood), Cordyline fruticosa (Hawaiian ti), Dictyosperma album (Hurricane palm), Dypsis lutescens (Areca palm), Eugenia spp., Ficus aurea (Strangler fig), Ficus carica (Edible fig), Hyophorbe verschaffeltii (Spindle palm), Mangifera indica (Mango), Manilkara roxburghiana, Myrica cerifera (Wax myrtle), Musa sp. (Banana), Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper), Persea americana (Avocado), Phoenix roebelenii (Pigmy palm), Quercus virginiana (Live oak), Sabal palmetto (Sabal palm), Schinus terebinthifolius (Brazilian pepper), Simarouba glauca, Smilax auriculata, Spondias sp., Spondias purpurea, Strelitzia nicolai (White bird of paradise), Strelitzia reginae (Bird of paradise), Tabebuia species, Terminalia catappa (Tropical almond), Veitchia species, Washingtonia palm, Zeuxine strateumatica, and many more.
Signs of Damage
- Abundant white, waxy material on leaves.
- Sooty mold is sometimes associated with this insect.
- Plant decline and dieback.
- Unknown what long-term impact this insect has on host plants.
Similar to other whiteflies, though Rugose Spiraling Whiteflies are about 3x the size and move much more slowly. Field diagnosis of the insect and the host plant are usually sufficient.
PHOTO CREDITS: Dr. Doug Caldwell, Univ. Florida. Used with permission.
There are many insecticide options for controlling this insect. Its lifecycle is still relatively unknown, but multiple life stages are probably present at the same time. Xytect 10% may be best because of its extremely short uptake time. An advantage to using systemic insecticides vs. foliar sprays is that they have a longer lasting residual and require 1-2 applications per season only. Treatments can be applied whenever pest populations are noted on an individual tree. In addition, preventive applications with systemic treatments should be considered on high value host species that are growing in areas where heavy whitefly populations are present.
Other Treatment Practices
Heavy water sprays can be used to knock insects from host plants. Horticultural Oil and Insecticidal soap can be used where insecticides cannot be applied. Other active ingredients that are labeled for whitefly control are: Bifenthrin, Permethrin, Abamectin, Carbaryl, Pyriproxifen, and Spiromesifen.
This insect has been reported in epidemic proportions, so multiple years of treatment may be needed until the insect population decreases. It may take some time for the plant leaves to appear clean and healthy and to grow out of the discolored appearance caused by honeydew and sooty mold.
University of Florida http://monroe.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf/Hort/RugoseSpiralingWhitefly.pdf University of Florida http://miami-dade.ifas.ufl.edu/documents/thegumbolimbospiralingwhiteflyfactsheet.pdf
A Diagnostic Guide is designed to help you identify a pest issue and management solutions. Always refer to product label for all rates and approved uses. Some images courtesy forestryimages.org. Use of the images does not imply endorsement of treatments by forestryimages.org