New pest attacks greenhouse and other crops

By Peter Kent

greenhouseGreenhouse growers are facing a new strain of whitefly this year – the Q-biotype sweet potato whitefly. “The new strain may not be as susceptible to the usual insecticides applied in the past,” said Richard Hassell, plant scientist at the Coastal Research and Education Center.

The new whitefly was first detected in the United States in 2004, and now has been found in 22 states, including South Carolina. It attacks ornamental, vegetable and other crops. Along with the silver leaf whitefly, it reduces crop yields by sucking out plant nutrients and secreting a sticky substance that promotes the growth of fungus. It also transmits viruses that damage crops.

In the field or greenhouses, high infestations of whiteflies can be identified by the presence of plant damage, immature whiteflies on the underside of foliage and adults that fly when the plant is disturbed. Shipping infested plants can spread the pest. Growers should check plants before and after shipment and rotate insecticides to help manage this and other insect pests.

For information: Richard Hassell, 843-402-5394,