Viburnum whitefly

The evergreen shrub laurustinus, Viburnum tinus, can be affected by a small insect known as the viburnum whitefly.

Viburnum whitefly

Quick facts

Common name Viburnum whitefly
Latin name Aleurotuba jelinekii
Plants affected Viburnum tinus and Arbutus spp.
Main symptoms Small white-winged insects on the foliage in summer, black and white scale -like pupae on underside of leaves in winter
Caused by A sap-sucking insect
Timing All year

What is viburnum whitefly?

Viburnum whitefly is a common sap-sucking insect found on the underside of the leaves on Viburnum tinus and sometimes on strawberry trees, Arbutus spp. This insect should not be confused with other species of whitefly such as  glasshouse whitefly which rarely affects these plants or cabbage whitefly which is only found on brassicas.

Symptoms

Check plants carefully for;

  • Small white-winged insects, about 1mm long, live on the underside of younger leaves in mid-summer
  • In winter, the insect is present as the overwintering pupal stage. These are black, oval, scale-like objects that are 1mm long and encrusted with a white waxy powder
  • Heavily infested plants may develop sooty mould on the upper leaf surface where the insect’s sugary excrement has accumulated

Control

Non chemical

There are no effective non chemical treatments however, light to moderate infestations can be tolerated and control may only be required when plants are heavily infested and becoming soiled with sooty mould.

Chemical

  • If necessary, spray thoroughly in mid-summer when adult viburnum whitefly begin to appear
  • Organic sprays, such as natural pyrethrum (e.g. Bug Clear Gun for Fruit & Veg, Defenders Bug Killer, Ecofective Bug Killer (also contains fatty acids)), fatty acids (e.g. Bayer Bug Free, Doff Greenfly & Blackfly Killer) or plant oils (e.g. Vitax Organic Pest & Disease Control, BugClear for Fruit & Veg) can give good control of aphids. These pesticides have a very short persistence and so may require reapplication to keep whitefly numbers in check
  • More persistent insecticides include the synthetic pyrethroids lambda-cyhalothrin (e.g. Westland Resolva Pest Killer), deltamethrin (e.g. Bayer Ultimate Fruit & Vegetable Pest Killer) and cypermethrin (e.g. Py Bug Killer)
  • The systemic neonicotinoid insecticide acetamiprid (e.g. Bug Clear Ultra) can also be used
  • Plants in flower should not be sprayed due the danger to pollinating insects
  • Inclusion of a pesticide product does not indicate a recommendation or endorsement by the RHS. It is a list of products currently available to the home gardener


Download

Pesticides for gardeners (Adobe Acrobat pdf document outlining pesticides available to gardeners)

Biology

Viburnum whitefly has one generation a year.

The adults emerge in mid-summer, when they deposit eggs on the underside of leaves near the shoot tips. These hatch into flat, oval whitish-green nymphs that suck sap from the lower leaf surface.

By autumn, the nymphs have reached the pupal stage, which is black and encrusted with a white waxy powder. Both adults and nymphs produce a sugary excrement, called honeydew, which makes the foliage sticky and can allow the growth of sooty moulds.

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