The first symptoms are the leaves turn yellow, then they drop off. Ficus trees without their leaves are one of the most obvious symptoms of a whitefly infestation. If the foliage is disturbed the small, white gnat-like adult whiteflies can be seen flying from the foliage.
This whitefly has been most commonly found infesting weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) but has also been seen on F. altissima, F. bengalensis (also called “banyan tree”), F. microcarpa, and F. maclellandii in Miami. Weeping figs are commony used as hedges but also grow as trees. Other hosts include the strangler fig (F. aurea), Cuban laurel (F. microcarpa), fiddle-leaf fig (F. lyrata) and banana-leaf fig (F. macllandii).
Insecticides with systemic properties may be very useful in whitefly control because they can be applied as a drench to the soil and many times provide longer lasting control. These insecticides include the neonicotinoids [Celero (clothianadin), Flagship/Meridian (thiamethoxam), Marathon/Merit (imidacloprid), and dinotefuran (Safari)]. These products also tend to be less disruptive to the natural enemies. After drenching, apply foliar sprays as needed if whiteflies are present.
In addition to the neonicotinoid insecticides listed above, insecticides that can be applied to the foliage for whitefly control include Aria (flonicamid), Avid (Abamectin), Azadirachtin, Distance (pyriproxyfen), Endeavor (pymentrozine), Endosulfan, Judo (spiromesifen), Talus (buprofenzin), and Tristar (acetamiprid). Rotation of insecticides among different modes of action is critical in the management of pests and is especially important for whiteflies that have been shown to develop resistance to insecticides. If plants have received a neonicotinoid drench, DO NOT spray with another insecticide in this group.