I have a small lettuce plant that grew from one of the starts Dr. Kong gave me. (Most of them were killed by squirrels, but two survived. The other surviving plant bolted a few weeks ago, so I am left with one.) I eat a few leaves from it every few days.
Lately, I’ve noticed that when I got to pick some leaves, a bunch of tiny white bugs fly off the plant.
It’s hard to get a photo of them, since they flea as soon as I disturb the plant to look for them, and they are very very tiny, but here is one:
Do you see that tiny white speak on the left side of the leaf?
I’m guessing this is the aptly named “whitefly.”
Whiteflies suck the sap out of the plant’s leaves and produce a sticky substance called “honeydew.” I haven’t seen that – ore really any damage to speak of – on my plant. The lettuce looks just fine. If I hadn’t seen the whiteflies flying off the plant, I wouldn’t have noticed anything at all.
Maybe I have a less damaging type of whitefly? Or maybe the population is small enough that it’s not damaging the plant?
I’m not going to do anything about the whitefly, since it doesn’t seem to be doing any harm, but some things I learned about controlling whitefly are as follows:
- Lacewings and ladybugs eat whiteflies, so planting flowers to attract those insects would help
- You can use remay or row cover to protect plants from getting whitefly
- Brushing the plants or hitting them with a strong stream of water will disrupt the whiteflies
- You can try catching whitefly with sticky yellow traps
- If all else fails, spraying the plant with insecticidal soap will kill whitefly (and other insects)