|The cotton whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) is also known as the sweet potato whitefly|
These creatures are parasites that feed on the fluids found inside of plants. They will feed from a wide variety of plants, of which at least six hundred are known. Though the act of the insects feeding on the plant is damaging, it is not the only point of concern. This species is known to carry over one hundred different plant viruses. Thanks to this fact, an infestation of these small insects can lead to the loss of an entire crop! In addition, the watery droppings of the larval whiteflies, known as honeydew, causes the growth of mold, further damaging the plant.
These small flies disperse and reproduce quickly, making an infestation difficult to control. Of major concern is the potential danger to staple crops of poor farming communities, such as cassava in Africa and elsewhere. If cassava crops become infected with viruses that the whiteflies carry, it will be devastating to a poor area. Management is possible, but success requires many steps. This includes removing infected plants, spraying pesticides, use of nets and traps, and biological controls.
This species is currently listed as one of the 100 World's Worst Invasives at #14.
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