How to Get Rid of Whiteflies on Houseplants

One of the common plant pests is whiteflies: tiny white-colored flying bugs. If they have attacked your plants and you are wondering how to get rid of whiteflies on houseplants, then let’s find out more.

Whitefly is the common name of more than 1,500 species of insects from various genera of the family Aleyrodidae. These heart-shaped tiny flies are not longer than 1/10-inch. Common methods to get rid of whiteflies include: soap & water, vacuuming, beneficial insects, and insecticides.

In case of a serious infestation, you’ll notice something similar to a sudden burst of snow when you move the plant. This is a sign that your plant is infested with whiteflies.

Although both indoor and outdoor plants can be infested by them, they cause major issues for houseplants as the cold weather and natural predators outside keep their population in check.

How to Get Rid of Whiteflies on Houseplants

The best time to attack whiteflies on your houseplants is early morning or evening as these insects are most sluggish at this time. 

There are several ways to get rid of whiteflies on houseplants out of which we are sharing a few below.

 To make sure that these insects do not come back, use a combination of these treatments.

Using a Vacuum

The first thing you can do is to use a handheld attachment of your vacuum cleaner and using a low-suction setting, vacuum the underside of your houseplants’ leaves every few days. 

It would help you in sucking whiteflies’ eggs along with their larvae and adults.

However, make sure that you do not empty your vacuum cleaner inside your house, since even a single female whitefly can lay 400 eggs, and we all know that prevention is better than cure.

Pruning

If your plant doesn’t have a large population of whiteflies, pruning your leaves can be helpful. 

Prune all leaves with visible eggs and larvae and soak them in rubbing alcohol or a mixture of dish soap and water to kill them.

Now, you would need to cope up with the flying pests only. 

Use it with the next-mentioned treatment for better results. It’s best when you identify the problem at an early stage.

Hose it Off

Bring your infested plant outside and hose it off to scatter the flies and dislodge eggs and larvae. 

During this treatment, pay special attention to the undersides of your leaves and any new growth. 

After this process, keep your plant away from others so the flies cannot hop to another plant.

If you have spider mites on plants, check out the complete article how do you kill spider mites on indoor plants.

How to Get Rid of Whiteflies Indoors

If you have identified whiteflies issues in your houseplants, and you want to know how to get rid of whiteflies indoors, here are a few treatments:

Use a Sticky Trap

Yellow color attracts whiteflies as they confuse it with new foliage. 

You can use yellow sticky traps to reduce their number. 

Keep an eye on your traps and replace them as required. 

Learn how to make and use yellow sticky traps for whiteflies.

Soap and Water Solution

Soap spray is an inexpensive and easy remedy for the whiteflies on your houseplants.

 You can make a DIY whitefly control spray by mixing 4 tablespoons of liquid soap (organic preferably) in a gallon of water. 

Mist your plants with this solution thoroughly. 

This solution will kill the whiteflies on your plants. Repeat spraying every few days until the infestation is gone completely.

If you’re not sure if you have whiteflies, check out our article on identifying little white things in soil.

How to Get Rid of Whiteflies Organically?

Do you want to know how to get rid of whiteflies organically? 

Well, there are several organic treatments for whiteflies for your houseplants. 

Here, we are discussing a couple of these treatments that you can use at home without causing any harm to your plants.

Neem Oil

Use neem oil as a natural pesticide to keep your whiteflies under control. 

In fact, neem oil is effective in controlling and eliminating common pests for houseplants & garden plants

Because of its residual effect, you don’t have to treat your plant every other day.

Beneficial Insects

This is one of the methods nature uses to control pests; feeding and encouraging helpful insects in controlling the whiteflies population. 

These beneficial insects–i.e., predators that eat whiteflies–include dragonflies, ladybugs, green lacewing larvae, etc. 

For particularly whiteflies, parasite wasps are useful.

Garlic

Garlic is an effective way against these tiny white creatures. 

Crush 4 cloves of garlic and mix them in a tablespoon of mineral oil. 

Let it stand for a while. 

Strain the solution and add about a pinch of water.

Spray this homemade garlic solution on your houseplant to help them fight against whiteflies.

If you’re curious, check out our complete article on how to grow garlic indoors.

How to Get Rid of Whiteflies on Orchids?

Whiteflies can cause serious damage to orchids. If your orchids are under attack by whiteflies and you want to know how to get rid of whiteflies on orchids, here are some useful ways:

Insecticides

You can use good insecticides to treat whiteflies in your orchids. 

Diazinon, malathion, pyrethrin are recommended treatments. 

Remember to follow label directions. 

It becomes crucial when you are treating young orchids as they are sensitive to chemical compounds.

Predators

This is another effective option to fight whiteflies attacking your orchids.

You can get useful predators for this purpose from greenhouse suppliers. 

Praying mantis and ladybugs are a couple of useful predators that eat pests on orchids. 

Once their job is completed, they often leave the plant.

Fungus

You might be wondering why the fungus is mentioned instead of fungicides. 

Well, a specific fungal species Beauvaria bassiania is useful against whiteflies. 

This fungus is sold under various brand names.

It weakens the flies’ immune system, ultimately causing death.

How to Get Rid of Whiteflies on Indoor Herbs?

There is a misconception that herbs are immune to whiteflies. Well, they are not. 

Herbs are as susceptible to these pests as any other houseplant. 

Many members of the mint family are targets of whiteflies. These members include but are not limited to:

  • Marjoram
  • Sage
  • Catnip
  • Oregano
  • Mint
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary, etc.

However, succulent herbs like aloe vera and wooly thyme are safe from this tiny creature.

First thing first; before treatment comes prevention. 

To prevent your herbs from whiteflies, make sure that the plants are clean before you get them inside your house. 

Unfortunately, this is easier said than done as a few flies can cause nasty issues. 

The eggs are on the underside of the leaves and, usually, not visible with a naked eye.

However, if you have started the plant from seeds, it is easier to prevent them from whiteflies unless they are exposed to infested plants.

To treat your infested herbs, you can use any of the above-mentioned ways such as:

  • Soap and water solution
  • Neem oil
  • Yellow sticky trap

How to Get Rid of Whiteflies on Basil?

Basil is a cousin herb of mint. 

Growing basil at home is very easy, but unfortunately, this plant is often attacked by whiteflies. 

Now the question is how to get rid of whiteflies on basil. 

You can easily kill whiteflies infesting your basil with any of the following methods:

Vacuum

You can use a vacuum (on a low-sucking setting) to suck whiteflies from your basil plant, preferably in the morning when these flies are less active. 

You can dump these vacuumed flies in a zip bag and freeze them for a day to kill them before disposing of them.

Spray Insecticidal Soap

This is another effective method to save your plant. 

Either use a store-bought insecticide soap or make one of your own combining 1 tablespoon of dish soap per quart of water.

Yellow Sticky Fly Trap

Insert a yellow sticky fly trap into the soil of your basil plant. Whiteflies will stick to the trap.

Once the trap is filled with flies, you can throw it away.

How to Get Rid of Whiteflies on Mint Plant?

Mint plants are often under attack by whiteflies. These whiteflies feed on the sap causing damage to the plant. 

If your mint plant is infested by whiteflies, nothing to worry about as we have already discussed how to get rid of whiteflies on mint plants.

You can use a yellow sticky trap, vacuum, neem oil, and all other already mentioned methods to rescue your mint from these tiny yet dangerous flying creatures.

If there is a small infestation or you have identified the issue in the beginning, the yellow sticky trap is useful against it. 

Spraying soap insecticide is really helpful, however, it is not recommended to use it many times as it may cause damage to the plant’s health.

Last Words

Whiteflies can cause harm to a wide range of houseplants. 

They are usually found on the underside of the leaves but love to feed on the new growth. 

They might not be visible immediately as they are too small in size, but you can surely notice them when looking carefully.

The first line of defense against these little creatures is to check each and every plant before bringing it to your home. 

Even if they have infested your houseplants, don’t worry, the already discussed methods will help you get rid of them easily.

About the author

Greg Volente

Greg Volente holds a Naturalist Certificate from the Morton Arboretum, worked for The Nature Conservancy leading environmental education programs and doing natural areas restoration, and worked in the soil science research & testing lab at Michigan State University. Besides gardening, he's an avid wildflower enthusiast, and loves botanizing, hiking, and backpacking.