The rugose spiraling whitefly is different from the ficus whitefly. The rugose was originally called the Gumbo Limbo Spiraling Whitefly, named after the plant on which it was first discovered. But it has since been found infesting the Gumbo Limbo, White Bird of Paradise, Coconut Palm, Black Olive, Live Oak, and others. These whiteflies are much larger than the ficus and bemisia whiteflies – almost three times bigger.
The rugose spiraling whitefly is also different from the ficus whitefly in that it is less of a pest to plants. From what we have seen so far, it is not causing severe damage such as plant death or branch die-back. However it is a nuisance and can create a mess. Our climate conditions here in Florida are ideal for their growth. Therefore populations build up, and infested plants can become covered with the white, waxy substance and disfigured by the black sooty mold that grows on the insect’s excrement (called honeydew). Honeydew is a sugar-rich sticky liquid, and is also secreted by aphids and some scale insects as they feed on plant sap. This sticky honeydew can accumulate on cars, pool decks and patio furniture from infested trees.
Rugose spiraling whitefly infestations are being discovered all over Southwest Florida. They also seem to be infesting all of our most common palms in addition to many of our most common trees. How can you tell if your plants have become the targets of these pests? Look for the distinctive white spirals and a build-up of a white, waxy substance on the underside of the leaves. If the leaves are turning white the sooty mold that’s produced can turn the leaves, trunk and anything under the infested tree black. This black sooty mold in turn interferes with photosynthesis. This mold can reduce plant growth and may cause early leaf drop.
The most effective way to combat the pests is to have an arborist and certified pest control operator deal with them. With over 30 years of experience, Zimmerman Tree Service is a full service organization providing shade, fruit and ornamental tree care as well as insect, disease and fertilization programs. As a leader in tree care, Zimmerman Tree Service’s unique approach of delivering a wide range of arboriculture services conveniently eliminates the time and expense of searching for and experimenting with different companies.
Our objective is to continually provide superior arboriculture services that add value to trees, prepare them for storm season and enhance their overall health and beauty. We focus on servicing our customers to the fullest extent to ensure their satisfaction.