10 Easy Ways To Remove Whiteflies From Outdoor Plants

whiteflies on leaf

We all love our outdoor plants! We love to watch the flowers flourish, watch our vegetables grow plump, and most of all – we love the beauty that our outdoor plants bring to our outdoor surroundings. But – you know who also loves our plantswhiteflies.

Luckily, there are various ways to remove whiteflies from your wonderful outdoor plants. And the best part is, you don’t have to resort to harsh chemicals to do it! If you have a white fly infestation, you should try to remove them as quickly as possible to ensure the health of your plant.

Now, let’s get right into the 10 easy ways to remove whiteflies from outdoor plants! Keep on reading to find out more!

Key Takeaways:

  • Whiteflies target outdoor plants for their sap, which can drain the plant of nutrients.
  • White fly infestations should be addressed rapidly to protect the health of your outdoor plants.
  • Various DIY and commercial treatments are available to keep whiteflies off outdoor plants.

* This post contains affiliate links.

1. Dish Soap Spray Gets Rid Of Whiteflies From Your Outdoor Plants

If you are noticing whiteflies on your plants, the addition of dish soap can work wonders to effectively remove whiteflies. The fatty acid found in the dish soap is too much for the whiteflies to endure and will get rid of them to control the population.

To make a dish soap solution fill a spray bottle with water and mix a few squirts of dish soap. Shake it up and then spray it on your plant’s whitefly-infested areas. CSBD 16oz Plastic Spray Bottles work great for this method!

Not only will the dish soap work as an insecticide to get rid of the whiteflies, but it will become a protectant from other little critters as well since dish soap is slippery and makes it hard for other insects to hold on! Double win!

2. Make A Spicy Pepper Spray To Deter Whiteflies From Your Outdoor Plants

Gardener spraying plants to repel whiteflies

Another way to get rid of whiteflies is by creating a spicy pepper spray to deter them. Whiteflies rely heavily on their sense of smell to scope out the plants they want to eat. The scent given off by the pepper spray will overpower the smell of food, making whiteflies leave the area in search of food elsewhere. Additionally, the capsaicin present in hot peppers can irritate the membranes of these insects.

Here’s what you’ll need to make a spicy pepper spray to ward off whiteflies:

Add the 2 tablespoons of ground cayenne pepper to the gallon of water and mix the solution using a spoon or whisk. Then, add a few drops of dish soap (this helps the solution stick to your plants). Add the solution to a spray bottle and store the extra in a container for future refills.

Most plants will tolerate this mixture just fine, but some are sensitive to soap, so spray a small amount on your plants first to see how they react. If the plant can tolerate the mixture, spray the rest of the plant that you want to protect from whiteflies.

3. Spray Whiteflies With The Hose To Get Them Off Your Plants

One of the easiest and quickest methods to getting whiteflies off your plants immediately is to grab the hose and spray the plants. The hose water will scare the whiteflies away temporarily, making it a good first step in deterring whiteflies.

Unfortunately, they may fly on over to another nearby plant, so make sure to hose down all your plants to repel these pesky insects long enough to employ a second technique.

Once you spray the whiteflies with the hose, you have a few minutes to incorporate another method into play. By either adding a hot pepper spray, as we mentioned above, or by adding some of the suggestions we’ll talk more about below.

This will make the flies disperse with the hose but create a 2-step plan that will be effective in keeping them away!

4. Use Scents That Whiteflies Hate To Repel Them

Another great way to repel whiteflies and deter them over time is to incorporate scents that they hate around your outdoor plants! Whiteflies hate the scent of citronella, peppermint, ginger, and Limonene and will not stay around if these scents are present!

 And hey – you can even use these scents in plant form – but we’ll get to that a little bit after this! For now, you can check out our guide on the scents that whiteflies hate for more inspiration.

Here are a few different ways to use scents that whiteflies hate to repel them:

Citronella Is Hated By Whiteflies

An article from the Journal of Economic Entomology found that the scent of citronella is highly effective at repelling whiteflies. While citronella is mainly known for its repellent effect on mosquitoes, it works quite well at repelling any pest with wings.

Citronella can be used in a variety of ways around your outdoor plants:

  • Essential Oil: Combine 10-15 drops of citronella essential oil like SVA Citronella Essential Oil with water in a spray bottle. Spray any plants you want to protect from whiteflies.
  • Candles: While it’s not practical to light candles in your garden, you can use this Coleman 70+ Hour Citronella Candle Outdoor Lantern and hang it from a lantern pole near your outdoor plants.
  • Plants: You can grow citronella plants alongside those you want to protect. More on that later!
  • Soap: Use a cheese grater or similar to shave citronella-scented bar soap around your outdoor plants. Blue Moon Elise Citronella Bar Soap works great for this method.

Whiteflies Hate The Scent Of Peppermint

To repel whiteflies from your outdoor plants, take peppermint in oil form, like this Handcraft Peppermint Essential Oil, and soak cotton balls in the oil. Then, place the peppermint-scented cotton around the plants that need protection.

If you’re worried about the cotton balls blowing away, consider placing them in small mesh bags and attaching them to stakes or weighing them down with a few rocks.

The smell of peppermint has a very strong smell that will irritate a whitefly’s olfactory system. Further, the smell will be too strong for a whitefly to endure and will mask the surrounding smells of the plants and vegetables, repelling them from the area.

Limonene Is Also Hated By Whiteflies

Another widely hated scent from whiteflies is limonene, which is the oil derived from celery, tea trees, and citrus plants like oranges and lemons! Limonene is a naturally occurring, safe oil that is used in many insecticides.

You know the strong tart smell of lemon? That’s kind of what we’re talking about here when we say limonene – and whiteflies? Well, they hate it!

To use limonene to repel whiteflies, try placing citrus peels around the plants you want to protect. The strong smell of limonene released by the citrus peels can ward them off. Replace the citrus peels weekly to keep the scent strong enough to repel whiteflies.

5. Neem Oil May Work Against Whiteflies

Another insecticide that will work in getting rid of whiteflies is Neem Oil. Neem Oil is derived from cold pressing the seeds of the Neem Tree and is an effective active ingredient in many insecticides.

To use Neem Oil naturally, you can start by purchasing a Neem Oil like this Plantonix Pure Organic Neem Oil Spray for Plants. This solution must be diluted before use, so be sure to read the directions on the back before applying them to your plants.

Bonide Captain Jack’s Neem Oil Insecticide is another great option to use Neem Oil as an insecticide as it contains Neem Oil as its active ingredient. Unlike Plantonix, this spray is read-to-use and does not need to be diluted before use.

6. Use Reflective Mulch To Deter Whiteflies

Another really interesting way to remove and deter whiteflies is by using reflective mulch around your outdoor plants! Reflective mulch prevents flying insects from locating host plants since the mulch produces ultraviolet light and can confuse the whitefly!

To purchase reflective mulch, check out this Silver Metallic Plastic Mulch that you can add to your gardens. Likewise, if you don’t want to replace your mulch, you can spray it with metallic silvery paint, or you can add shiny reflective constructive paper like this Hygloss Silver Foil Board Cards that will also work the same way!

To use reflective mulch, first remove all your weeds. Once you do that, place the mulch on your plant bed and then bury the edges in excess soil to keep it down. Like a landscaping fabric, after the mulch is down, cut holes into the reflective mulch to add your plants.

7. Hydrogen Peroxide Is A Great Natural Solution To Removing Whiteflies

Although this method isn’t always the safest for your plants in high doses, you can try it if nothing else seems to work to control your whitefly population. By mixing a small amount of hydrogen peroxide in water and creating a spray solution to spray onto your plants, you may be able to eliminate the whitefly infestation.

You can take an in-depth look at whether or not hydrogen peroxide can get rid of whiteflies here.

8. Predators Can Keep Whiteflies In Check

If you’ve tried everything to get rid of these pesky whiteflies and nothing seems to work, a solution that can be almost fool-proof is to attract predator insects and animals that eat whiteflies to the table – or well, in this case, garden.

Attracting predators like small birds, spiders, lacewings, ladybugs and Big-Eyed bugs can help control the whitefly issue. We have a fantastic list of the natural predators of whiteflies here!

To attract insects, try planting flowers high in nectar that require pollination. Plants like marigolds, azaleas, geraniums, and alyssums are highly attractive to predatory insects. You can read more about attracting ladybugs in our guide on ways to attract ladybugs to your garden.

To attract birds, add bird feeders directly around problem plants.

9. Getting Rid Of Yellow Flowering Plants Can Stop WhiteFlies

Another easy way to get rid of whiteflies is to remove yellow flowering plants.

Whiteflies are highly attracted to the color yellow and will migrate toward them naturally. If you have a lot of yellow flowers in your garden, or even yellow objects like garden statues, flags, or other outdoor decor, you can be attracting whiteflies without even realizing it!

Since whiteflies love yellow, removing all the sources of it can help control the population. However, knowing they love yellow can also give you a way to attract them elsewhere without causing harm to them. 

10. By Planting Plants That Whiteflies Hate You Can Deter Them

Similar to the way we can use natural essential oils to deter whiteflies, we can also use plants that whiteflies hate to get rid of them as well!

Plants like Marigolds, Nasturtiums, Basil, and Thyme are plants that are hated by whiteflies.

Growing any of these plants around whitefly-attractive plants can create natural borders/boundaries that will deter whiteflies from coming to your plants in the first place! If you want more information on how to use these plants to deter whiteflies, head on over to our latest article about plants that repel whiteflies naturally.

Now that we’ve gone over the plants that whiteflies hate, you may be wondering: which plants do whiteflies love? And do I have those in my garden? Keep on reading to find out!

Here Are The Plants That Whiteflies Love

white fly on crop plant

So, the reality is, if you have plants that whiteflies like in your garden or part of your outdoor plants, you’re going to be attracting whiteflies. We just spoke about whiteflies being attracted to yellow-colored plants, but there are a bunch more that attract them as well!

Here is a table that lists the plants that are most likely to attract whiteflies to your garden:

Plant NameAttraction to Whiteflies
TomatoHighly Attracted
CabbageHighly Attracted
EggplantHighly Attracted
OkraHighly Attracted
PoinsettiaHighly Attracted
HibiscusModerately Attracted
Sweet PotatoModerately Attracted
SquashModerately Attracted
GeraniumModerately Attracted
CucumberModerately Attracted

Whiteflies Like Eggplants And Peppers

Other vegetables that whiteflies are attracted to are eggplants and peppers – so much so that there is a type of whitefly that is attracted to each of these veggies!

Pepper Whiteflies are native to the neotropical regions and are a type of whitefly that commonly feeds on peppers! These whiteflies can lead to reduced pepper production and stunted growth of the host.

Silverleaf Whiteflies are another type of whitefly that primarily feeds on eggplants. Believe it or not, this type of whitefly is predominantly deterred by the use of reflective mulch. It feeds the same way as the other whiteflies with a piercing mouth and sucking out all the juice from the vegetable, and causes the same amount of damage.

Hibiscus Is A Whitefly Heaven

Whiteflies also are attracted to hibiscus and will feed on the backside of the leaves, sucking all the nutrients and water from the plants.

Giant Whitefly is the type of whitefly commonly found on hibiscus plants. These whiteflies tend to be attracted to more ornamental plants than vegetables and are the biggest whitefly out of their species measuring up to 3/16th of an inch long.

Hibiscus offers a lot of nutrients and water, so much so that these giant whiteflies latch on to this plant and never let go!

Some Whiteflies Like Citrus

Another type of whitefly, the Citrus Whitefly, is attracted to – you guessed it, citrus plants!

Much like their siblings, citrus flies pierce the flower or crop that they’re eating and will suck all the sap and juice out, leaving the plant to decay.

For a complete list of plants, head on over to our article on the plants that attract whiteflies.

How To Identify Whiteflies On Your Outdoor Plants

Close-up of White Fly

Although there are a ton of whitefly types – seriously, 1500 species worldwide – their behavior of attacking our outdoor plants remains generally the same. Let’s check out some ways to identify these destructive pests. Once you’ve identified whiteflies on your plants, you can employ some of the strategies listed above!

Whiteflies Live In A Variety of Climates

Whiteflies live in areas of the world where a USDA Zone 7 or colder exists. Although they can’t survive outdoors in the winter, whiteflies often live in greenhouses or on indoor plants in the colder months.

The problem with whiteflies and their location is that if the infestation began in a greenhouse, there’s a strong chance that the infestation can spread once the plant leaves the greenhouse and is planted outdoors.

Whiteflies lay up to 400 eggs at once – so if you have an infestation in the greenhouse, it’s so important to get the infestation under control before moving the plant since the whiteflies will reproduce and spread.

Whiteflies Are White to Off-White In Color

Yup, it’s true, whiteflies are actually white in color, and although they have wings, they do not fly in the slightest.

Whiteflies are teeny-tiny, literally around 1/12 of an inch in size. They come in variations of white, where some may look pale yellow or off-white, and usually exist in clumps or swarms on plants.

Whiteflies are triangular in shape and are found on the bottom side of leaves.

Whiteflies Leave Honeydew

Another tell-tale sign that you have whiteflies is if you’re finding this sticky substance on and around your plants called Honeydew.

Whiteflies excrete this Honeydew substance that is colonized by a fungus called sooty mold and also assists in damaging of your plants. And no – it’s not honeydew the melon, although that can seem confusing, so don’t try to taste it!

Check out our article on how to identify whiteflies for a more in-depth look at how to identify these tiny pests.

Why Do Whiteflies Go On Plants Anyway?

Several whiteflies on the leaf of a plant.

I think it can go without saying that whiteflies go on plants to fill themselves with nutrients and water! Their main reason for being on your plants is because they are looking for liquid nutrients and will do what they have to to get it!

  • They Feed On Your Plants’ Liquid Nutrients: Whiteflies love to feed on your plant’s nutrients and will suck all the water and nutrients right out of it, leaving it to decay!
  • Whiteflies Love Plants That Are Fertilized: Whiteflies love fertilized plants and are attracted to high nitrogen levels in plants. If you over-fertilize your plants, you may attract whiteflies without realizing it since nitrogen is abundantly available in your plants!
  • Whiteflies Adore Healthy Plants: It’s the truth – the healthier the plant, the more likely it will attract whiteflies. This is because a healthy plant has more nutrients available.

You can read more about where whiteflies come from and how to remove them naturally here!

That’s A Wrap!

If you have a whitefly infestation, it’s best to get ahead of the game before it gets way out of hand. If you’re unsure of how to go about the removal of whiteflies or how to deter them, we always recommend contacting a professional right away. A professional can assess the issue and come up with a plan that will work specifically for you.

However, if you’re the DIY type, here’s a recap of the 10 ways to remove whiteflies from your outdoor plants:

  1. Use a dish-soap/water spray
  2. Make a hot pepper spray
  3. Use your garden hose to physically spray the whiteflies off your plants
  4. Utilize scents that whiteflies hate
  5. Neem oil
  6. Reflective mulch
  7. hydrogen peroxide
  8. Attract natural predators
  9. Remove yellow-colored plants
  10. Grow plants that whiteflies hate

With persistence and a little luck, you’ll be rid of your whitefly infestation in no time! However, if you can’t seem to get rid of the little nuisances, you can always use our nationwide pest control finder to connect with a local pest specialist in your neighborhood.

References

Emilie, D., Mallent, M., Menut, C., Chandre, F., & Martin, T. (2015). Behavioral response of Bemisia tabaci (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) to 20 plant extracts. Journal of economic entomology108(4), 1890-1901.

Muñiz-Reyes, E., Ramos Barreto, C. A., Rodríguez-Hernández, C., & Ortega-Arenas, L. D. (2016). Nim biological activity on adult whitefly Trialeurodes vaporariorum (Aleyrodidae) West. Revista mexicana de ciencias agrícolas7(6), 1283-1295.

Riis, L., & Nachman, G. (2006). Migration, trapping and local dynamics of whiteflies (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae). Agricultural and Forest Entomology8(3), 233-241.

Sundararaj, R., Murugesan, S., & Mishra, R. N. (1996). Field evaluation of neem seed oil against the babul whitefly Acaudaleyrodes rachipora (Singh)(Aleyrodidae: Homoptera) on Acacia senegal seedlings. Annals of Arid Zone35, 369-372.

How to pest proof your home in under a day e-book by Zack DeAngelis

Download My Free E-Book!

 Take a look at my guide on Pest Proofing Your Home In Under a Day! I get into the nitty-gritty on the most common types of pests you’ll see on your property including BOTH insects and wildlife, along with the specific signs to look for regarding any pest you have questions about.


Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *