I’ve had this week off of my regular job so I’ve been able to work in the nursery.
I found these ficus microcarpa retusa “tiger bark” at a nursery in south Florida. They look like they were Chinese imports. But it seems as though may have been there for many years. The trunk caliper was much greater than the pot size they were planted in. Usually,a nursery charges by the pot size,so these should have been in larger pots to get them more money. But I dug around and dug around and found them, that’s what I do best.
Unfortunately,they were also infested with whitefly.
If the infestation is real bad when you brush up against the plant it’s like a cloud of white. Hold your breath!
A description stolen from the net:
Whiteflies normally lay their tiny, oblong eggs on the undersides of leaves. The eggs hatch, and the young whiteflies gradually increase in size through four nymphal stages called instars. The first nymphal stage (crawler) is barely visible even with a hand lens. The crawlers move around for several hours, then settle and remain immobile. Later nymphal stages are oval and flattened like small scale insects. The legs and antennae are greatly reduced, and older nymphs do not move. The winged adult emerges from the last nymphal stage (for convenience sometimes incorrectly called a pupa). All stages feed by sucking plant juices from leaves and excreting excess liquid as drops of honeydew as they feed. From the UCIPM online.
What I did was completely defoliate
Put all the leaves in a bag
And threw it away
Do not compost. It will just continue the problem.
You could burn it too I guess.
I then repotted everything, bare rooting to get every weed which could harbor the bug and used this
Which is a granular,systemic insecticide. This will target chewing, sucking insects. When we use a spray, not only is it airborne and toxic but it kills everything else.
And this is why whiteflies become a big problem. There are natural enemies of them that will be killed by your indiscriminate carpet bombing approach. And the spray does not affect the “scale” stage of the bugs life cycle. Then they grow up and “wow” no predators to eat them.
Anyway, here are some pics of my treasures.