The latest addition to the Featured Creatures Web site is a publication on the orange spiny whitefly, Aleurocanthus spiniferus Quaintance, which is a pest of citrus and a potential pest of ornamentals in Florida. Found in Africa, Australia, the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands, this species made the list of the top twelve arthropods the Florida Nursery Growers Association would rather not ever see in Florida.
Orange spiny whitefly, Aleurocanthus spiniferus Quaintance, is a native pest of citrus in tropical Asia. Primarily, orange spiny whitefly affects host plants by sucking the sap but it also causes indirect damage by producing honeydew and subsequently promoting the growth of sooty mold. Heavy infestations of orange spiny whitefly — or other honeydew-producing insects such as scales, mealybugs, aphids and other whitefly species — can cause sooty mold to completely cover the leaf surface and negatively affect photosynthesis.
While not yet a pest in the continental United States, the orange spiny whitefly has spread to Africa, Australia, the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands. In the Caribbean Islands, orange spiny whitefly was recorded as an occasional pest of citrus in Jamaica. For the Pacific Islands, it was first recorded in Guam in 1951 where it was observed not only on citrus, but also on rose and other fruit. It was first detected on rose foliage in Honolulu in 1974.
The economic implications of orange spiny whitefly could be substantial since it moves rapidly through nurseries and has a wide host range. It causes a general weakening of infested crops due to sap loss and development of sooty mold. Although none of the chemicals in our industry are currently labeled for control of orange spiny whitefly, it has proven controllable by both biological and chemical measures in other countries.