Rugose Spiraling Whitefly is the newest pest to invade Naples’ landscapes. Unlike the ficus whitefly, which has a specific host, RSW will attack over 100 different plant species including palms, white bird of paradise, and oak trees. RSW is easy to identify because it creates a large white spiraling pattern on the underside of the leaf as it lays eggs. Although RSW is not believed to be a potential killer of many plant species, the honeydew secreted by the plant from RSW feeding will result in the formation of sooty mold, which can be quite messy.
Control of RSW for the homeowner consists of applying contact sprays such as horticultural oils or soap. Application of systemic insecticides by foliage spray or a ground drench offer longer lasting control and protect the plant from the inside out. Hopefully in the future better control will be accomplished with the help of beneficial biological predators such as parasitic wasps.