Viburnum whitefly

Viburnum tinus and Arbutus are a host of a small sap sucking insect known as the viburnum whitefly.

Viburnum whitefly <EM>Aleurotuba jelinekii</EM>
Viburnum whitefly Aleurotuba jelinekii

Quick facts

Common name Viburnum whitefly
Latin name Aleurotuba jelinekii
Plants affected Viburnum tinus and Arbutus spp.
Main symptoms Small white-winged insects on 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?

Whiteflies are sap sucking true bugs (Hemiptera) in the family Aleyrodidae. The adults are typically white and fly up from host plants. There are around eight species found in Britain, some are restricted to a limited host range others are found indoors on a wide range of plants indoors.

Viburnum whitefly feeds on the underside of the leaves on Viburnum tinus and sometimes on strawberry trees, Arbutus spp. Often with no noticeable effect on the host plants health. 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.


Check plants for:

  • Small white-winged insects, about 1mm long, living on the underside of younger leaves in mid-summer
  • In winter, the insect is present as the overwintering scale (nymph) stage. These are black, oval, scale-like objects that are 1mm long and encrusted with a white waxy powder
  • Usually host plant health is unaffected. Occasionally large populations develop which can lead to sooty mould on the upper leaf surface where the insect’s sugary honeydew excrement has accumulated


This insect can usually be accepted as part of the biodiversity that viburnum and Arbustus support, it rarely affects the health of its hosts.  

Check Viburnum tinus and Arbutus frequently from early summer onwards so if necessary action can be taken before a damaging infestation has developed. 

  • This whitefly rarely affects the growth or vigour of host plants and so it can be accepted as part of the biodiversity these plants support
  • Encourage predators and other natural enemies of whitefly, in the garden, such as birds, ladybirds, wasps and ground beetles


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 (sometimes called larvae) 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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