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Pest Information

Fig whitefly

  • Latin Name: Singhiella simplex
  • Common Name: Fig whitefly
  • Other Names: Ficus whitefly

Pest Details


Native to eastern Asia in China and India.


This is a recently introduced species in Florida where it now attacks many species of ornamental fig trees and shrubs in the genus Ficus. The extremely heavy numbers of the insects feeding on the plants, sucking the sap with their piercing mouths, rapidly leads to yellowing of the foliage and eventually complete defoliation. Feeding is most often on the undersides of the leaves. Eggs are deposited on the leaves by the females and these hatch to the mobile crawler stage that moves about over the leaves and expands the problem. Once the crawler begins to feed it becomes immobile, exuding wax to cover itself at that spot. After several stages the adult whitefly emerges. It is winged and can then fly to other nearby Ficus to further spread the problem.


Adults are typical of whiteflies, with very small size, pure white bodies and wings, and resembling small moths. The immature stages are difficult to spot as the wax covering over the actual insect is fairly clear, but examining the lower surfaces of the leaves will show these tiny, flat specks. A diagnostic character is when the ficus tree begins to lose its foliage.

Characteristicts Important to Control:

Numerous natural enemies will exist that may be present in sufficient numbers to manage the problem at a tolerable level. Insecticidal oils can be applied to infested leaf surfaces to coat and smother the feeding insects, but it must be thorough and the undersides of the leaves are especially important. Many natural and synthetic active ingredients are labeled for use on whitefly, and a systemic that can be applied to the soil may be very effective, moving the active ingredient up and into the foliage where it is ingested by the feeding insects.

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