Giant Whiteflies Leave Long White Fur on Hibiscus Leaves

Found fuzzy white infestation of aphids and white flies on my hibiscus plant.

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.

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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.

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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.

Fuzzy white aphids and lady bug larvae
Fuzzy white aphids and lady bug larvae

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.

Okay, I Hate These Raccoons

After we moved into our new house in Florida, we noticed every night that raccoons would come out of the woods next door and explore our yard.  They came right up to the back door, with the outside light on.

Raccoons at my back door

Oh, they were so cute. One time we looked out back to see three little raccoon faces peering out of the woods at us. .  It was adorable, and if I were any kind of photographer I would have had the camera handy and captured that image.

However, I know that raccoons are not the sweet, adorable creatures they appear to be.  And these days I abhor seeing their cute faces. They are thieves, that even wear masks as a warning!  They have no regard for the hard work farmers and gardeners put into growing their crops.

Raccoons have sharp claws and teeth. They can be vicious if need be, and the ones that visit my yard are mostly unafraid of humans and my cats. They mostly do their damage at night, but we’ve been sitting at the outside table, in full daylight,  and had one come out of the woods a mere 10 feet from us. Once he noticed we were there, he left. Rabies is common among them, but this one did not act in an unusual manner. I think he just wanted to see what we were up to.

I usually leave water outside for the cats during the day because of the heat. If I don’t empty the bucket, the raccoons always get into the water overnight and leave a muddy mess.  Occasionally they dump the bucket.

One evening after we had been out on our boat, I rinsed my expensive water shoes and left them to dry on the back patio. The next morning one of my shoes was missing! Luckily I found the shoe at the edge of the woods where apparently the raccoon decided it would be of no use to him.

sunflower stalk
My sunflower was much taller than this when the raccoons tore it down.

That same morning I discovered my tall sunflower stalk broken and dragged across the grass. It was the only sunflower seed that grew for me, and I really had hoped to see the flower bloom.

But worst of all is the stealing of my tomatoes. I just picked two ripe tomatoes and left about 4 more green ones on the vine. Today I saw that all the green tomatoes were gone! Last week they stole 2 nice red ones just before I had a chance to pick them.

They will drag pots and my fabric potting bags around.  It seems they have a grand old time during the darkness of night.  When the weather is nice, and my windows are open, I can hear them outside my window at night scampering around and occasionally “screaming” at each other.  Yes, they make noise, and it’s creepy.

raccoon and chain link fence
Raccoon image from Pixabay

I’m thinking it’s time for a fence. However, I am not sure that will keep them away. I’ve read that they can climb fences, and we’ve watched them climb down from way up in a neighboring tree. The fence may have to be made of slick material, like metal or plastic, that they cannot climb.  I’m saving my money, as we had planned to fence the yard anyway.  These creatures just give me more incentive to do so.

I can only hope that with a wall between them and my yard the little robbers, or bandits as they are rightfully called, will forget about my garden and go someplace else to scavenge.


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