White bugs on plants: What are they and how to eliminate them?

White bugs on plants: What are they and how to eliminate them?

In today’s article we will talk about the white bugs that we can find in our plants. Last week we learned how to identify the main green bugs that we could find in the garden. Today, we change color, and we will focus on the most important white bugs.


Whiteflies, despite their name, are not flies. They are a family (Aleyrodidae) belonging to the Homopteran insects. There are more than 1500 species and they measure only a few millimeters. They feed on the phloem and are generally located on the underside of the plant. Some species produce a large amount of wax or white powder that coats their body and serves as protection. In general, whiteflies are not polyphagous species.
Whitefly damage

These little whiteflies like tomatoes, cabbage and cucurbits such as squash, zucchini and cucumber best. They like humidity and high temperatures, making them a frequent pest in spring and summer (and very dangerous in greenhouses).

The main damages they cause to crops are:

  • Extraction of sap from the plant. Leaves are stung and discolored. The first symptoms are yellow mottling and finally they dry up.
  • Mechanical damage
  • Like aphids, they produce honeydew. This causes other problems, such as the appearance of ants that feed on this sugary substance or the appearance of black leaf mold, reducing the photosynthetic leaf surface.
  • They favor the entry of pathogens
  • Some species are vectors of diseases

Whitefly control

The best method of control, as we have said on other occasions, is PREVENTION. Therefore, it is important to check the underside of the leaves from time to time in order to act as soon as possible.

There are several methods to control whiteflies such as chromatic traps, natural predators, wormwood infusion, garlic, etc. Here is a photo of one of the main natural enemies of the whitefly that can help us in the orchard: Macrolophus pygmaeus.

White bugs on plants: What are they and how to eliminate them?
Macrolophus pygmaeus, one of the insects used for the biological control of whiteflies.


Mealybugs belong to the order Hemiptera (Superfamily Coccoidea). These insects vary greatly in appearance and color. We can find from very small organisms (1-2 mm) with waxy coverings, to shiny balls of about 5 mm and covered with honeydew wax. Despite this, they are very easy to identify.

Males do not feed on plants and have wings. In contrast, the females (which are the ones we see in our crops) are larviform, wingless and permanently attached to the plants they parasitize.

Occasionally, some species are used in the industry to obtain dyes, lacquer or wax.

White bugs on plants: What are they and how to eliminate them?
Cottony bug, one of the most common white bugs

Scale insect damage

They affect both outdoor and indoor plants: rosemary, oregano, orange, banana, oleander, geranium, grapevine, etc. The damage caused is similar to that of the whitefly. Injection of substances that cause discoloration, deformation and even galls is the most common cause of damage.
Mealybug control

If the plants no longer bloom, begin to turn yellowish and dry out… (something is wrong). The next step is to look under the leaves and between the stems to find the mealybugs.

There are several natural predators and parasitoids of mealybugs such as Criptolaemus montouzieri, Anagyrus pseudococci or Leptomastix algirica. In addition, we can apply chromatic traps or ecological products such as potassium soap or neem oil.

In this post there is more information on how to eliminate the cottony mealybug pest.


The white mite, also known as white spider mite, is an arachnid species (I remind you that mites are not insects). It thrives in humid areas and low temperatures. It is common that it appears not only outdoors but also in orchards or crops grown indoors.

In previous articles we have already talked about the damage and control of the white mite. 

White bugs on plants: What are they and how to eliminate them?
White bugs: White spider seen with electron microscopy


The whitest beings in nature: Cyphochilus

Here is a very peculiar little bug. It is said that there is nothing in the world that surpasses the whiteness of this beetle. Cyphochilus achieves its extraordinary coloration thanks to the geometry of a very dense and complex network of chitin molecules.

White bugs on plants: What are they and how to eliminate them?
White beetle