University of Florida

Whitefly, Silverleaf

Bemisia argentifolii

  • Adult: small (3/64 in.), yellow body, white wings covered with powdery wax, held roof-like over body, found generally on underside of leaves.
  • Egg: tiny, football-shaped up-right, with tiny pedicle inserted into underside of leaf. Cream-colored when fresh to brownish when ready to hatch.
  • Nymph: Four instars ranging from tiny to small, clear to yellowish. Oval, flat scale-like and immobile on underside of leaves. Excrete honeydew like aphids on which sooty mold grows.
  • Pupa: like large nymph but less flat and with red eyes.
  • Generation Time: 15-30 days depending on temperature.
  • Damage: plant debilitation, sooty mold, irregular ripening, vector of tomato mottle geminivirus. Key pest in south and central Florida.

Silverleaf Whitefly Pictures

Silverleaf Whitefly adults
Image #35.
Silverleaf whitefly - adults hold the wax-covered wings roof-like over the yellow body. Eggs are attached to lower surfaces of leaves with a short stalk and are yellowish when first deposited but turn brownish as they develop.

Silverleaf Whitefly immature stages
Image #38.
Silverleaf whitefly - all immature lifestages occur primarily on lower surfaces of leaves and nymphs feed with piercing-sucking mouthparts:

the first instar, called a crawler, is oblong and the only mobile immature lifestage, although it doesn't usually move more than a few millimeters;

the second and third instars (a crawler also shown) are flat and more elliptical;
the fourth instar is a resting, or pupal, stage with conspicuous red eyes.

Tomatoes with whitefly damage
Image #41.
Silverleaf whitefly - ripe fruit showing increasing severity of external symptoms of irregular ripening caused by whitefly feeding on foliage.