NC State Extension Publications

Description and Biology

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The mulberry whitefly, Tetraleurodes mori, is a minor pest of shrubs and trees in North Carolina. It is one of 1,100 species of whiteflies that infest plants across the world. Females insert just the tip of their eggs a short distance into the lower surfaces of leaves. About two weeks later, from the eggs hatch tiny yellow nymphs called crawlers that move about before settling down to insert their mouthparts to feed. Once they settle down, they remain in the same spot until the new adult mulberry whiteflies emerge a month or more later. With each molt, nymphs become larger, darker, and eventually are shiny black with a conspicuous white fringe. This last stage is called the pupa. Adult mulberry whiteflies are pale gray with conspicuous darker gray spots, jagged lines, and markings on the forewings. Whiteflies suck sap from leaves and excrete honeydew (a sweet, sticky liquid in which sooty molds often grow).

Mulberry whiteflies are tiny insects with irregular markings on

Mulberry whiteflies are tiny insects with irregular markings on their forewings.

A brand new mulberry whitefly just emerging from its pupal stage

A brand new mulberry whitefly just emerging from its pupal stage.

Mulberry whitefly pupa

Mulberry whitefly pupae often have their earlier exuviae on top.

mulberry whitefly pupae

These mulberry whitefly pupae have lost their earlier exuviae.

Host Plants

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Mulberry whiteflies have been reported from American holly, avocado, boxelder, citrus, flowering dogwood, mt. laurel, mulberry, Norway maple, red maple,Virginia sweet spire, and wax myrtle.

Residential Recommendations

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The mulberry whitefly is not particularly resistant to pesticides. Insecticidal soaps work well on adult whiteflies. Horticultural oils should give some control of the nymphs. These pesticides should available at local gardening supply houses. Whiteflies are plagued with predators, parasites, and diseases. Since the mulberry whitefly is usually more of a curiosity than a pest, it is probably not necessary to treat infested plant unless the whiteflies become tremendously abundant.

References

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For assistance with a specific problem, contact your local Cooperative Extension Center.

This Factsheet has not been peer reviewed.

Author

Professor Emeritus
Entomology and Plant Pathology

Publication date: March 10, 2017
Revised: Oct. 7, 2019

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