After writing a recent post about finding aphids on my pepper plant, I realized that I need to be vigilant about accidentally removing ladybug larvae and eggs. One plant that is sure to have aphids in the hibiscus. It is not unusual to find them all over the buds and new growth.
I haven’t paid much attention to my orange hibiscus plant over the winter, and imagine my surprise (and disgust) to find not only aphids, but long, white fur on the leaves! I don’t know what else to call it, but fur. It’s long enough to blow in the breeze and is attached to the underside of some of the leaves.
Beneath all that “fur” is a colony whitefly eggs and nymphs. How do I know this? I finally found a super helpful page at Hidden Valley Hibiscus, which talks about this exact type of manifestation, which comes from a southern whitefly called the “Giant Whitefly“. Here is how they describe the fur, “After hatching, the nymphs produce long, hairlike filaments of wax up to 2 inches long that give a bearded appearance to affected leaves.” Exactly, little white beards attached to sticky leaves.
It was not easy to get these photos. Any time I touched a leaf with white, little moths or something flew off. Also the leaves were very sticky. It was pretty gross.
This will never happen to your hibiscus if you are vigilant about checking for unwanted bugs. Whiteflies can be sprayed off with water, just like aphids.
The majority of the white fur was on the stems at the back of the plant. A secluded, less windy spot seems to be the preference for this type of infestation.
I plan to cut off the nasty stems from the back of the plant, and maybe spray off the rest. But I will keep an eye on all that ladybug larvae because I don’t want to disturb them.
Ladybugs are wonderful to have, but they need something to feed on. Somehow they know when to show up to kill an invasion of the bad guys.
The underside of the leaves have white spiraling lines, which is from the adult whiteflies.
I found lady bug larvae on the same leaf as the white fuzz. I had to trim up the hibiscus plant and spray it a few times with the hose to reduce the white fly population. I’m still seeing lots of ladybugs (in many forms) on the plant.
Hibiscus plants are very hardy. They can be cut way back, trimmed and left without water and still grow fine. I made the mistake of planting this little shrub too close to the house. The stems in back don’t get enough air circulation and hence the problem.