How to recognize tobacco whitefly

Tobacco whiteflies hold their wings in a vertical position, which makes more of their body visible than is the case for greenhouse whiteflies. The small, oval-shaped, yellow eggs are deposited on the underside of the leaves, across the plant. The first instar larvae are mobile. The subsequent second to fourth instar are settled and fixated in one spot. The larval stages are light–yellow to transparent and are very similar to greenhouse whitefly larvae. The tobacco whitefly pupae can be distinguished from greenhouse whitefly cocoons: the tobacco whitefly pupae are flatter with tilted edges and barely any waxy threads around the body. The adult whitefly is visible inside the cocoon (yellow with red eyes and white developing wings). The adult whitefly emerges from the cocoon through a T-shaped opening. Tobacco whitefly is much smaller than greenhouse whitefly.

Tobacco whitefly damage and distribution

All stages, except the eggs and pupae, cause plant damage. They feed from plant saps by puncturing leaf veins and feeding from the phloem. This causes small spots on the leaves. As a byproduct honeydew is produced which is more damaging than the actual puncturing. The honeydew acts as a growth medium for black sooty mold fungus which will hamper photosynthesis and make products unsuitable for sale. Tobacco whitefly is a transmitter of several feared plant viruses like tomato yellow leaf curl virus. These viruses may cause large economic damage in tomato, cucumber and other greenhouse crops.

  • Tobacco whitefly life cycle

    egg to adult in 22 days at 26°C, can increase to 70 days at 16°C
    1st larval stage mobile, 2nd to 4th stage immobile
    adults emerge via t-shaped opening from the pupa
    eggs and adults distributed over the crop

  • Tobacco whitefly host plants

    many different host plants
    tomato, cucumber, egg plants
    various vegetable- and ornamental crops

  • Tobacco whitefly larvae