Skip to main content

Rugose Spiraling Whiteflies — Signs, Prevention & Treatment

A palm tree with rugose spiraling whiteflies.

Are you noticing white spirals or a black sticky substance on your palm trees or shrubs? Rugose spiraling whiteflies may be to blame! In this blog, whitefly experts at Larue will go into detail about what they are, the signs of whitefly, how much damage they can cause, and how to treat for spiraling whiteflies.

What are Rugose Spiraling Whiteflies?

This particular whitefly first appeared in Florida in 2009 and is believed to have arrived from Central America. They were originally called the gumbo limbo spiraling whitefly because they were thought to only affect those trees. However, it’s since been renamed rugose spiraling whiteflies because it can attack a wide range of host plants.

What plants can rugose spiraling whiteflies damage?

  • Gumbo Limbo
  • Calophyllum (Tamanu)
  • Black Olive
  • Mango
  • Wax Myrtle
  • Palms: Coconuts, Christmas, Alexander’s, Travelers, Royals, Queens, Robillini’s, Foxtails, Areca, Canary Island Date and many more.

A shrub with rugose spiraling whitefly damage.Will Rugose Spiraling Whiteflies Kill my Plants and Palm Trees?

While the patches of white eggs and black sooty mold that rugose spiraling whiteflies deposit on your leaves certainly isn’t good for them, most of the time your vegetation will survive. However, there is a chance that young trees, new plantings, or already weakened landscaping could perish without intervention.

How to Prevent Rugose Spiraling Whiteflies

A proper watering schedule and regular fertilizing will help prevent rugose spiraling whiteflies as general upkeep helps plants stay strong and defend themselves against attacks from these kinds of pests. 

Signs of Whitefly on Palm Trees

Spiraling whitefly infestations are being spotted all over Southwest Florida and seem to be plaguing many of the region’s most common palms and trees. 

The indications of a rugose spiraling whitefly infestation include:

  • White spirals on the underside of leaves.
  • A buildup of a waxy substance on the leaves.
  • Honeydew, a sticky and shiny substance that whiteflies feed on.
  • A black, sooty mold that turns the leaves, trunk, and anything under the tree black.
  • An abundance of leaves turning white.
  • Leaves that yellow, wilt, and drop from the tree.



Will Whitefly Damage Affect my Entire Landscape?

The spiraling whitefly fly is excessively prolific and can cause extensive damage, potentially transmitting to every tree and shrub in your landscape. It’s so easily transmittable that once rugose spiraling whiteflies hit your neighborhood, it’s only a matter of time before your landscape will become infested. 

If a whitefly infestation is suspected, call a professional to make a positive identification. A good contractor should be well trained in the utilization of systemic insecticides and be able to provide a long-term, environmentally sound solution.

Spiraling Whitefly Treatment

The most effective prevention and treatment for rugose spiraling whiteflies is by using a systemic insecticide, the only way to ensure long-lasting control while reducing the need to constantly spray. This treatment is absorbed by a plant’s roots and moves up the trunk to the leaves, so that the whitefly feeds directly on the insecticide. This helps target the pest without killing off the natural predatory insects that help to control the rugose spiraling whitefly population.

We recommend preventative treatments, especially if you’ve already spotted rugose spiraling whiteflies in your neighborhood. Treatments are applied every 6 months and assure your entire landscape is protected.

A Larue technician providing rugose spiraling whitefly treatment in Fort Myers.How Long Until I’ll Notice Results from Whitefly Treatment?

With Larue’s specific rugose spiraling whitefly treatment, it can take 3-4 weeks to completely control a whitefly infestation. Depending on how much damage they did to your yard, it could take weeks or even months for fresh green leaves to replace the ones that whiteflies destroyed.

The good news is that with Larue’s long-lasting systemic product, your landscape will also be protected from future infestations.

How Long Does Treatment Last?

You may hear some companies claim to offer treatment applications that last a full year. Although it’s possible, after conducting our own research, we’ve determined that the systemic insecticides used tend to lose effectiveness after 6-8 months. With our whitefly treatment, we’re able to ensure that they receive a lethal dose of the product for a full 6 months at a time.

Will I Need to Remove Trees that have Whitefly Damage?

No! We suggest treatment of an infected tree rather than its removal. In most cases, the cost of tree removal will be more than that of treatment. In the vast majority of cases, the tree will survive if treated properly.

DIY Rugose Spiraling Whitefly Treatment

If your landscape has been infested, you can try several tactics to get rid of this stubborn pest on your own, depending on the severity of the outbreak. Begin by washing the affected plants with water to dislodge the fly. In addition, you can apply horticultural oil or insecticidal soap. For more severe infestations, you may need to turn to an insecticide.

As always, we recommend contacting a lawn care professional for whitefly treatment in order to safely eliminate the pests and cure the issue without damaging your landscape further.

Are you in the Fort Myers area and in need of Rugose Spiraling Whitefly Treatment?

Schedule your appointment today!


Pest Control Affiliations