Approximately three years ago, the Ficus Whitefly appeared in South Florida. Recently, in Deerfield Beach, a new pest has appeared - the Rugose Spiraling whitefly - which attacks a wider range of trees, from Black Olives to Gumbo Limbos. The University of Florida IFAS Extension office has also reported that throughout South Florida, the pest has been seen on other types of plants, ranging from palms to woody ornamental and fruits.
These insects typically feed on the underside of leaves. The leaves of the trees infested with Whitefly often show an abundance of the white, waxy material covering the leaves as well as excessive sooty mold. Infestation may result in defoliation and branch die back of trees, and can cause plant decline.
On city-maintained property, staff is evaluating trees which show evidence of this pest on a case by case basis to determine the course of treatment, with a goal of saving viable trees, particularly those which are historic.
More information on the treatment of and symptoms associated with the Spiraling Whitefly, may be found in this brochure from the University of Florida/IFAS Tropical Research & Education Center.