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whiteflies on weed plants

Whiteflies

White Flies / Whitefly

White flies look like tiny white moths when they’re flying around and otherwise behave a bit like spider mites; hanging out underneath the leaves and stealing essential nutrients from the plant. This results in white spots on the top side of the leaf, though most growers will notice the tiny white bugs (around 2 mm long) fluttering around before they notice any actual leaf damage. White flies are easily spotted with the naked eye. If you shake the plant a little, they’ll take off into the air.

An infestation can get out of control if you ignore it! The eggs they lay are practically glued to the plant, so you can’t wipe them off.

They look like tiny moths flying around your plants

Whitefly nymphs on the back of a leaf

Adult whiteflies & round young whiteflies (nymphs)

Proven White Fly Remedies

1.) Insecticidal soaps

Fatty acid salts or insecticidal soaps can be a good choice against whiteflies. They weaken the outer shell of aphids but are safe to use on your plants and they don’t leave much of a residue.

With soaps, coverage is very important as it does not stay on your plant for long, so follow-up applications may be necessary. Although this is considered safe, avoid getting any on your buds!

2.) ​Neem Oil

Neem Oil will leave an unpleasant taste/smell on buds when used to treat flowering plants, so again, don’t let this stuff get near your buds! There’s also some evidence Neem oil may be harmful to humans so use with care! That being said, Neem oil is an all-natural remedy that is very effective against many different types of bugs and mold. You will need a mister (also called a “One-Hand Pressure Sprayer”) to spray all the leaves evenly, since neem oil and water can separate easily.

3.) Spinosad

Spinosad Products (safe & organic) – Spinosad products are organic and completely harmless to pets, children, and plants. Spinosad products can be used directly to kill whiteflies on contact and should be sprayed liberally anywhere you see aphids and especially under the leaves. Although maybe not as strong against pests as some of the more harsh insecticides, it does work and it’s very safe for plants, animals and humans!

Spinosad is an organic insecticide made from the fermentation of a specific soil bacteria (actinomycete Saccharopolyspora spinosa) and kills whiteflies via ingestion or contact by effecting the insect’s nervous system. Spinosad can be a good choice for organic and outdoor growers, because it is very toxic to whtieflies, but is less toxic to many beneficial insects and spiders.

Note: Most spinosad products are effective for only about 24 hours after being mixed with water, so only mix as much as you will need per application. Anything left over will be waste.

You will need a mister (also called a “One-Hand Pressure Sprayer”) to cover all the leaves evenly when spraying them with spinosad products.

4.) Essentria IC3

Essentria IC3 Insecticide is a mix of various horticultural oils that is organic and safe for humans. It is often marketed as a “bed bug killer” but it can be effective against whiteflies when the plants are treated regularly. Unfortunately it only stays effective on the plant for about 8 hours so you will want to either apply this daily or combine with other options. You will need a mister (also called a “One-Hand Pressure Sprayer”) to spray all the leaves evenly.

Whiteflies almost look cute… until you see what they do to your plants!

Plant Symptoms

  • Bronze or brown patches
  • Brown or slimy roots
  • Brown or yellow leaf tips/edges
  • Buds dying
  • Buds look odd
  • Bugs are visible
  • Curling or clawing leaves
  • Dark leaves
  • Drooping plant
  • Holes in leaves
  • Mold or powder
  • Pink or purple on leaves
  • Red stems
  • Shiny or smooth leaves
  • Spots or markings
  • Twisted growth
  • Webbing
  • Wilting leaves
  • Yellow between leaf veins
  • Yellow leaves

This page is part of our Plant Doctor series. You can use our tool to filter by symptom and help diagnose your plant.

Learn how to identify and get rid of white flies and prevent this common indoor plants pest from ever attacking your cannabis again.