TruGreen Develops Long Term Control for Whitefly Pest Invasion

Provides Tips for Dealing with the Spiraling Whitefly

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (July 21, 2011) – What may appear as a snow storm in the middle of the summer is actually an infestation from a relatively new pest called the spiraling whitefly. The spiraling whitefly is a piercing, sucking insect that drains nutrients from plants, which excretes a sugary substance, called “honeydew”, which in turn leads to the growth of sooty mold, a sticky substance that rains down on people and property.  

While there are many types of whiteflies, the spiraling whitefly was first reported on the continental United States in 2009 in Miami-Dade County. Since the initial find, there have been numerous other reports in Florida. The spiral whitefly appears to have a very broad host range from palms to woody ornamentals and fruits. Thus far it has been seen on coco plums, live oaks, gumbo limbos, black olives, Brazilian peppers, mangos, wax myrtles and many types of palms. Spiraling whitefly adults are small, white and moth-like in appearance and flight. Early signs of infestation can be identified by the shape of its eggs, which are laid in a spiral pattern on the undersides of the leaves. ..

Currently the spiraling whitefly is most prevalent in Southeast Florida, mainly Miami, Ft Lauderdale and the West Palm Beach area, but is moving up the state. It is causing a sticky mess in South Florida before many people even know what has occurred. Controlling the spiraling white fly has been more difficult due the drought conditions and high summer temperatures, which allow them to reproduce and move at a more rapid pace.

TruGreen, the nation’s largest lawn care company, provides specific tree injection treatments and applications to provide long term control of this pest.

“This treatment is environmentally responsible and applied by a trained professional TruGreen tree and shrub specialist,” said Al Quintero, general manager of the TruGreen Pembroke Pines branch. “We drill a hole into the back of the tree, insert a rubber seal and inject the material into the tree with an injector gun. The depth of the hole drilled is critical and dependant on the size and type of the tree. If smaller shrubs or hedges are infested, we apply a spray or drench treatment.”

In 2007, the ficus whitefly was first reported attacking fig (Ficus) trees in Miami, Florida and set a new U.S. continental record. There are many types of whiteflies, all draining precious nutrients from plants and causing lasting damage

“It typically takes people two to three weeks to realize they are there,” said Quintero. “If you see black mold, or what appears as snow on your trees or shrubs, your best course of action is to immediately contact a professional to perform an inspection. Especially, if you live in an area where they are prevalent now, your plants can be pre-treated to prevent the pest from causing damage.” Early detection and treatment is essential to controlling the spiraling white fly.

These pests will not leave on their own; they are best treated by a professional and treated quickly. Spiraling whiteflies not only cause visible landscape damage to trees, plants and shrubs, but the sticky substance may also cause damage to property, such car paint and stain or leave a sticky mess on outdoor furniture, sidewalks, and driveways. The sticky substance then is tracked into homes and is a huge nuisance to clean up. Research is still being conducted on the long-term effects of the spiraling whitefly. Be sure to contact a specialist at the first sign of an infestation, sticky (sooty mold) or a snowy substance.

Tips for Identifying and controlling the Spiraling Whitefly

  • The spiraling eggs are easy to see and are a good target to look for.
  • Do not wait until you see the leaves covered in white floccules of wax, honeydew, or sooty mold.
  • If you monitor your plants for early signs of infestation, it will be easier and cheaper to manage the spiraling whitefly before its population becomes too large and causes major damage
  • Should you find infestation, search nearby trees as well.
  • Several applications of ultra fine horticultural oil and insecticidal soap can help keep this pest from infesting small trees, palms, and fruit trees. These products are available at garden centers and retail nurseries.
  • After controlling the whitefly infestation, the white, waxy material and sooty mold that remains on the plant will take time to disappear.

About TruGreen
TruGreen is the nation’s largest lawn care company, serving more than 2.5 million residential and commercial customers across the United States with lawn, tree and shrub care. As the industry leader, TruGreen continues to pioneer the development of new technology for lawn care and devotes substantial resources to evaluate new products and equipment. The company is committed to responsible lawn care, including offering and promoting the use of natural, organic services and sustainable practices. Today, there are approximately 250 TruGreen branches in the United States and Canada, including about 50 franchise locations. TruGreen is part of the ServiceMaster family of brands, one of the world’s largest and most versatile service networks. Go to www.TruGreen.comor for more information about TruGreen.

About ServiceMaster

With a network of more than 5,000 company-owned and franchise locations, Memphis-based ServiceMaster is one of the world’s largest residential and commercial service networks.  The company’s high profile brands are TruGreen, Terminix, American Home Shield, ServiceMaster Clean, Merry Maids, Furniture Medic and AmeriSpec. Through approximately 24,000 corporate employees and a franchise network that independently employs over 31,000 additional people, the ServiceMaster family of brands serve more than 8.2 million customers every year and hold market-leading positions in residential and commercial lawn care and landscape maintenance, termite and pest control, home service contracts, furniture repair, home inspections, residential and commercial cleaning and disaster restoration. Go to or for more information about ServiceMaster.

For more information:

Alison Boyle

Office: (901) 597-8978

 Cell: (901) 827-7508