The UK has been experiencing an invasion of tiny white flies recently with millions seen swarming streets and gardens and recent weeks.
The creatures, which measure around 1.5 millimetre in length, are so abundant that they’ve been mistaken for early snowfall. Although they’re harmless, they can be an irritant and are also bad news for those trying to grow their own fruits and vegetables.
Residents have taken to social media after spotting them around the country and wondering what they’re all about. There’s no mystery to their name – they’re called whitefly and are found on house plants or in greenhouses.
Ladybird ‘apocalypse’ as people report huge numbers in their home
Met Office verdict on when first snow could hit the UK this winter
If disturbed, they will often fly up to your face. There are eight main types of the common sap-feeding bugs in Britain and they can be found living on a variety of plants and foliage, reports YorkshireLive.
They also feed on fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and melons, which can be a bit of a pain if you’re growing your own produce. Glasshouse whiteflies thrive in warm conditions and given the UK recently enjoyed a scorching heatwave, it created idyllic breeding conditions for them.
They’re not usually a problem on outdoor plants, but will often be found all year round on house plants and in greenhouses, where conditions are warmer. Whiteflies are covered with a waxy white dust, so you can easily spot signs of them by looking for a white dusting on plants, particularly beneath the leaves around the veins, or around the soil.
Leaves may also have a sticky coating or a black sooty mould on top. If the insects are feeding they will suddenly fly off in a swarm if disturbed, so it’s obvious if you have an infestation.
While the creatures are completely harmless to people they can be a pest in gardens, so if you want to get rid of them, do it naturally without using pesticides. One option is to mix washing up soap and warm water and apply this to the leaves of plants, which helps prevent the flies from sticking to it.
Leave it for a while and then rinse the plant to remove the dead bugs and keep repeating the process until the problem is under control. Using vinegar and water should also work. Strong-smelling plants, such as mint or parsley, can also help keep whiteflies away, as can spraying a dilute solution of essential oils and water onto leaves.
You can find this story in My Bookmarks.Or by navigating to the user icon in the top right.