Trialeurodes vaporariorum (whitefly, greenhouse)
Whiteflies are small Hemipterans that typically feed on the undersides of plant leaves. They comprise the family Aleyrodidae, the only family in the superfamily Aleyrodoidea. More than 1550 species have been described.
In warm or tropical climates and especially in greenhouses, whiteflies present major problems in crop protection. Worldwide economic losses are estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
Prominent pest species include:
- Aleurocanthus woglumi, citrus blackfly, which, in spite of its color, is a whitefly that attacks citrus
- Aleyrodes proletella, cabbage whitefly, is a pest of various Brassica crops.
- Bemisia tabaci, silverleaf whitefly, is a pest of many agricultural and ornamental crops.
- Trialeurodes vaporariorum, greenhouse whitefly, a major pest of greenhouse fruit, vegetables, and ornamentals
Although several species of whitefly may cause some crop losses simply by sucking sap when they are very numerous, the major harm they do is indirect. Firstly, like many other sap-sucking Hemiptera, they secrete large amounts of honeydew that support unsightly or harmful infestations of sooty mold. Secondly,they inject saliva that may harm the plant more than either the mechanical damage of feeding or the growth of the fungi. However, by far their major importance as crop pests is their transmission of diseases of plants.
The most prominent disease vectors among the Aleyrodidae are a species complex in the genus Bemisia. Bemisia tabaci and B. argentifolii transmit African cassava mosaic, bean golden mosaic, bean dwarf mosaic, bean calico mosaic, tomato yellow leaf curl, tomato mottle, and other Begomoviruses, in the family Geminiviridae. The worldwide spread of emerging biotypes, such as B. tabaci biotype B, also known as, ‘B. argentifolii’, and a new biotype Q, continue to cause severe crop losses which are expected to increase, demanding matching increases in pesticide use on many crops (tomatoes, beans, cassava, cotton, cucurbits, potatoes, sweet potatoes). Efforts to develop environmentally friendly integrated pest management systems, with the goal of reducing insecticide use, aim to re-establish the ecological equilibrium of predators, parasitoids, and microbial controls that were once in place.