Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Aleurodicus dispersus



Aleurodicus dispersus (whitefly)


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A. dispersus, 'spiralling whitefly', eggs on soyabean leaf.
CaptionA. dispersus, 'spiralling whitefly', eggs on soyabean leaf.
CopyrightErnst Neering
A. dispersus, 'spiralling whitefly', eggs on soyabean leaf.
EggsA. dispersus, 'spiralling whitefly', eggs on soyabean leaf.Ernst Neering
Adult A. dispersus usually have plain white wings, but occasionally have pale or dark spots on the forewings. Pupae secrete copious amounts of white, cottony, flocculent wax.
CaptionAdult A. dispersus usually have plain white wings, but occasionally have pale or dark spots on the forewings. Pupae secrete copious amounts of white, cottony, flocculent wax.
Copyright©Matthew Cock
Adult A. dispersus usually have plain white wings, but occasionally have pale or dark spots on the forewings. Pupae secrete copious amounts of white, cottony, flocculent wax.
AdultsAdult A. dispersus usually have plain white wings, but occasionally have pale or dark spots on the forewings. Pupae secrete copious amounts of white, cottony, flocculent wax.©Matthew Cock
A. dispersus infestation on guava, Philippines: when abundant they are conspicuous on leaves due to the white flocculence that covers their bodies.
TitleInfestation on guava
CaptionA. dispersus infestation on guava, Philippines: when abundant they are conspicuous on leaves due to the white flocculence that covers their bodies.
Copyright©Matthew Cock
A. dispersus infestation on guava, Philippines: when abundant they are conspicuous on leaves due to the white flocculence that covers their bodies.
Infestation on guavaA. dispersus infestation on guava, Philippines: when abundant they are conspicuous on leaves due to the white flocculence that covers their bodies.©Matthew Cock
Stained slide preparation of an A. dispersus pupa.
CaptionStained slide preparation of an A. dispersus pupa.
CopyrightNatural History Museum, London
Stained slide preparation of an A. dispersus pupa.
PupaStained slide preparation of an A. dispersus pupa.Natural History Museum, London
Stained slide preparation of an A. dispersus pupa.
CaptionStained slide preparation of an A. dispersus pupa.
CopyrightNatural History Museum, London
Stained slide preparation of an A. dispersus pupa.
PupaStained slide preparation of an A. dispersus pupa.Natural History Museum, London
Stained slide preparation of an A. dispersus pupa.
CaptionStained slide preparation of an A. dispersus pupa.
CopyrightNatural History Museum, London
Stained slide preparation of an A. dispersus pupa.
PupaStained slide preparation of an A. dispersus pupa.Natural History Museum, London
Stained slide preparation of an A. dispersus adult.
CaptionStained slide preparation of an A. dispersus adult.
CopyrightNatural History Museum, London
Stained slide preparation of an A. dispersus adult.
AdultStained slide preparation of an A. dispersus adult.Natural History Museum, London
Stained slide preparation of an A. dispersus adult.
CaptionStained slide preparation of an A. dispersus adult.
CopyrightNatural History Museum, London
Stained slide preparation of an A. dispersus adult.
AdultStained slide preparation of an A. dispersus adult.Natural History Museum, London


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Aleurodicus dispersus Russell, 1965

Preferred Common Name

  • whitefly

International Common Names

  • English: spiralling whitefly
  • Spanish: mosca blanca
  • French: aleurode

EPPO code

  • ALEDDI (Aleurodicus dispersus)

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Uniramia
  •                 Class: Insecta
  •                     Order: Hemiptera
  •                         Suborder: Sternorrhyncha
  •                             Unknown: Aleyrodoidea
  •                                 Family: Aleyrodidae
  •                                     Genus: Aleurodicus
  •                                         Species: Aleurodicus dispersus

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page A. dispersus was first described by Russell (1965) in Florida, USA and many Caribbean and Central American countries. It is located within the Aleurodicinae, the smaller of two subfamilies within the Aleyrodidae, which comprises approximately 100 species. A. dispersus is characterized by distinctive compound and simple pores (Russell, 1965).


Top of page Adult female A. dispersus lay a few to several elliptical, smooth-surfaced, yellow-to-tan coloured eggs (0.3 mm long). The eggs have a short pedicel or subterminal stalk, which is inserted into the host plant during oviposition (Waterhouse and Norris, 1989). The eggs are laid, along with deposits of waxy secretions, in a spiraling pattern.

The first larval stage ('crawler') is the only mobile immature stage (0.32 mm long). During the second larval stage (0.5 mm long), a row of mid-back waxy tufts form on the anterior of the body. During the third larval stage (0.65 mm long), short, evenly-spaced, glass-like, waxy rods emanate from distinctive compound pores along the side of the body (Waterhouse and Norris, 1989). Russell (1965) described the pore structure in detail for each immature stage.

During the early pupal stage (fourth larval stage), sedentary feeding continues (Russell, 1965; Waterhouse and Norris, 1989). Copious amounts of white, cottony flocculent wax, extending from the dorsum, are then secreted by the pupae; more so than for the larval stages. Young pupae are nearly flat dorsally and flat ventrally. Mature pupae (1.06 mm long) have a swollen ventral surface and are surrounded by a band of wax. The waxy rods emanating from each of the large compound pores, which occur in five subdorsal pairs, extend upward and outward from the back. The waxy rods can be up to 8 mm in length (Waterhouse and Norris, 1989). Pupae are colourless or yellowish, nearly oval and 1-1.25 mm long and 0.75-0.90 mm wide (Russell, 1965). Fully mobile adults emerge from the pupae. The pupal cases or puparia are used for identification purposes. Martin (1987, 1996) provided keys to tropical pest species based on pupal morphology.

Adult A. dispersus are white and coated with a fine dust-like waxy secretion. Body length of males 2.28 mm, and females 1.74 mm. Both sexes are winged. Wings are clear soon after emergence, but turn white due to the wax coating after a few hours. Pale or dark spots may occasionally occur on the forewings. Antennae have seven segments and eyes are dark reddish-brown (Waterhouse and Norris, 1989). Adult females do not have pores, while males have numerous circular pores on the abdomen (Russell, 1965).

Wen et al. (1994b) described the morphology, including body size for immatures and adults, of A. dispersus in Taiwan.


Top of page A. dispersus is of Neotropical origin, and is native to Central America and the Caribbean region. It is naturally found in Central and South America, the West Indies and southern Florida, USA. It has been present in the Canary Islands since 1962. During the 1970s it began a rapid expansion of its range. It established in Hawaii in 1978 (Paulson and Kumashiro, 1985). It was first reported in the Philippines in 1982, and during the 1980s it spread throughout the islands of the Pacific (Waterhouse and Norris, 1989). More recently, it has been reported in India, Sri Lanka, Africa, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan and northern Australia (Wijesekera and Kudagamage, 1990; Martin, 1990; Kajita et al., 1991; Akinlosotu et al., 1993; Wen et al., 1994b; Palaniswami et al., 1995; Carver and Reid, 1996).

The distribution map includes records based on specimens of A. dispersus from the collection in the Natural History Museum (London, UK): dates of collection are noted in the List of countries (NHM, various dates).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


BangladeshPresentEPPO, 2014
Brunei DarussalamPresentIntroduced Invasive NHM, unda; Waterhouse, 1993; EPPO, 2014
ChinaPresentEPPO, 2014
-HainanPresentIntroducedYu et al., 2007; EPPO, 2014
IndiaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
-Andhra PradeshPresentEPPO, 2014
-KarnatakaPresentEPPO, 2014
-KeralaPresentIntroduced Invasive Palaniswami et al., 1995; EPPO, 2014
-LakshadweepPresentCABI/EPPO, 2006; EPPO, 2014
-MaharashtraPresentEPPO, 2014
-OdishaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2006; EPPO, 2014
-Tamil NaduPresentEPPO, 2014
IndonesiaPresentEPPO, 2014
-JavaPresentIntroduced Invasive NHM, unda; Kajita et al., 1991; EPPO, 2014
-SumatraPresentIntroduced Invasive NHM, unda; EPPO, 2014
LaosPresentIntroduced Invasive Waterhouse, 1993; EPPO, 2014
MalaysiaWidespreadEPPO, 2014
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentIntroduced Invasive NHM, unda; EPPO, 2014
-SabahPresentIntroduced Invasive NHM, unda; EPPO, 2014
-SarawakPresentIntroduced Invasive NHM, unda; Megir, 1987; EPPO, 2014
MaldivesPresentIntroduced Invasive NHM, unda; Watson et al., 1995; EPPO, 2014
MyanmarPresentIntroduced Invasive Waterhouse, 1993; David and Dubey, 2012; EPPO, 2014
PhilippinesPresentIntroduced Invasive NHM, unda; Waterhouse, 1993; EPPO, 2014
SingaporePresentIntroduced Invasive NHM, unda; Waterhouse, 1993; EPPO, 2014
Sri LankaPresentIntroduced Invasive NHM, unda; Wijesekera and Kudagamage, 1990; EPPO, 2014
TaiwanPresentIntroduced Invasive Wen et al., 1994b; CABI/EPPO, 2006; EPPO, 2014
ThailandPresentIntroduced Invasive NHM, unda; Waterhouse, 1993; EPPO, 2014
VietnamPresentIntroduced Invasive NHM, unda; Waterhouse, 1993; EPPO, 2014


BeninPresentEPPO, 2014
CameroonPresentNHM, unda; EPPO, 2014
Cape VerdePresentMonteiro et al., 2005
CongoPresentEPPO, 2014
GhanaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2006; EPPO, 2014
KenyaPresentMware et al., 2010; EPPO, 2014
MauritiusRestricted distributionIntroduced Invasive NHM, unda; Ganeshan, 2000; EPPO, 2014
MoroccoPresentMazih, 2015
NigeriaPresentIntroduced Invasive NHM, unda; Akinlosotu et al., 1993; EPPO, 2014
Sao Tome and PrincipePresentNHM, unda; EPPO, 2014
SenegalPresentIPPC, 2006; EPPO, 2014
SeychellesPresentIntroducedHazell et al., 2008
-Canary IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive NHM, unda; EPPO, 2014
TogoPresentIntroduced Invasive NHM, unda; EPPO, 2014

North America

USAPresentEPPO, 2014
-FloridaPresentNHM, unda; EPPO, 2014
-HawaiiPresentNHM, unda; EPPO, 2014

Central America and Caribbean

BahamasPresentNHM, unda; EPPO, 2014
BarbadosPresentNHM, unda; EPPO, 2014
BelizePresentNHM, unda; EPPO, 2014
Cayman IslandsPresentNHM, unda; EPPO, 2014
Costa RicaPresentNHM, unda; EPPO, 2014
CubaPresentNHM, unda; EPPO, 2014
DominicaPresentNHM, unda; EPPO, 2014
Dominican RepublicPresentNHM, unda; EPPO, 2014
GuadeloupePresentNHM, unda; EPPO, 2014
GuatemalaPresentNHM, unda; EPPO, 2014
HaitiPresentMound and Halsey, 1978; EPPO, 2014
MartiniquePresentNHM, unda; EPPO, 2014
NicaraguaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2006; EPPO, 2014
PanamaPresentNHM, unda; EPPO, 2014
Puerto RicoPresentNHM, unda; Medina-Gaud et al., 1991; EPPO, 2014

South America

BrazilPresentEPPO, 2014
-BahiaPresentEPPO, 2014
ColombiaPresentNHM, unda; EPPO, 2014
EcuadorPresentNHM, unda; EPPO, 2014
PeruPresentMound and Halsey, 1978; EPPO, 2014
VenezuelaPresentEPPO, 2014


NetherlandsAbsent, confirmed by surveyEPPO, 2014
PortugalRestricted distributionIntroduced Invasive NHM, unda; EPPO, 2014
-MadeiraPresentIntroduced Invasive NHM, unda; EPPO, 2014
SpainRestricted distributionIntroduced Invasive NHM, unda; EPPO, 2014


Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentNHM, unda; Suta and Esguerra, 1993; EPPO, 2014
American SamoaPresentNHM, unda; EPPO, 2014
AustraliaPresent, few occurrencesEPPO, 2014
-QueenslandPresent, few occurrencesCarver and Reid, 1996; EPPO, 2014
Cook IslandsPresentNHM, unda; EPPO, 2014
FijiPresentNHM, unda; EPPO, 2014
French PolynesiaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2006; EPPO, 2014
GuamPresentEPPO, 2014
KiribatiPresentEPPO, 2014
Marshall IslandsPresentCABI/EPPO, 2006; EPPO, 2014
NauruPresentNHM, unda; EPPO, 2014
New CaledoniaPresentNHM, unda; EPPO, 2014
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentEPPO, 2014
PalauPresentCABI/EPPO, 2006; EPPO, 2014
Papua New GuineaPresentAsia & Pacific Plant Protection Commission, 1988; NHM, unda; EPPO, 2014
SamoaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2006; EPPO, 2014
Solomon IslandsPresentCABI/EPPO, 2006; EPPO, 2014
TokelauPresentCABI/EPPO, 2006; EPPO, 2014
TongaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2006; EPPO, 2014

Risk of Introduction

Top of page A. dispersus presents a serious phytosanitary risk to tropical and subtropical areas on the edges of its current range. Quarantine areas have been declared in Queensland, Australia. The movement of plants, plant material, and fruits out of quarantine areas can only proceed after official inspections (Lambkin, 1998). The spread of A. dispersus on citrus is of particular concern, in Australia, Mexico and other countries. Only the climatic limitations will ultimately determine the final distribution of this highly invasive and polyphagous pest. It has not stopped moving yet (2003).

Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page A. dispersus is highly polyphagous, being common on a wide range of different families. Russell (1965) recorded it from 38 genera in 27 plant families in Florida, USA.

In Taiwan, Wen et al. (1994b) listed 144 species of host plant, in 64 families, with host range varying with season. In Indonesia, Kajita et al. (1991) reported A. dispersus attacking 22 plants in 14 families, including ornamentals, shade and fruit trees and annual crops. In Kerala, India, Prathapan (1996) listed 72 host plants, ranked by intensity of infestation.

In addition to the hosts listed, Diospyros philippensis, Elaeocarpus serratus, Heliotropum indicum, Ixeris oldhami, Laguncularia racemosa, Melaleuca leucadendron, Peristeria spp., Pterocarpus spp., Rhus semialata, Sagittaria trifolia and Sideroxylon ferruginium are also secondary hosts of A. dispersus.

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContext
Acacia (wattles)FabaceaeOther
Acalypha (Copperleaf)EuphorbiaceaeOther
Agave americana (century plant)AgavaceaeOther
Ageratum conyzoides (billy goat weed)AsteraceaeMain
Amaranthus (amaranth)AmaranthaceaeOther
Annona squamosa (sugar apple)AnnonaceaeOther
Arachis hypogaea (groundnut)FabaceaeOther
Areca catechu (betelnut palm)ArecaceaeOther
Artocarpus (breadfruit trees)MoraceaeOther
Bauhinia (camel's foot)FabaceaeOther
Cajanus cajan (pigeon pea)FabaceaeMain
Canna indica (canna lilly)CannaceaeOther
Capsicum (peppers)SolanaceaeOther
Capsicum annuum (bell pepper)SolanaceaeOther
Carica papaya (pawpaw)CaricaceaeOther
Cassia (sennas)FabaceaeOther
Cassia roxburghiiFabaceaeOther
Celtis (nettle tree)UlmaceaeOther
Cestrum (jessamine)SolanaceaeOther
Chrysalidocarpus lutescens (butterfly palm)ArecaceaeOther
Chrysanthemum (daisy)AsteraceaeOther
Cinnamomum camphora (camphor laurel)LauraceaeOther
Cocos nucifera (coconut)ArecaceaeMain
Coffea (coffee)RubiaceaeOther
Colocasia esculenta (taro)AraceaeOther
Cucumis (melons, cucuimbers, gerkins)CucurbitaceaeOther
Cucumis melo (melon)CucurbitaceaeOther
Dahlia pinnata (garden dahlia)AsteraceaeOther
Datura metel (Hindu datura)SolanaceaeOther
Dendrophthoe falcataLoranthaceaeOther
Euphorbia (spurges)EuphorbiaceaeOther
Euphorbia hirta (garden spurge)EuphorbiaceaeOther
Euphorbia pulcherrima (poinsettia)EuphorbiaceaeOther
Glycine max (soyabean)FabaceaeMain
Gossypium (cotton)MalvaceaeOther
Hedera (Ivy)AraliaceaeOther
Hibiscus (rosemallows)MalvaceaeOther
Hibiscus mutabilis (cottonrose)MalvaceaeOther
Hibiscus platanifoliusMalvaceaeOther
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (China-rose)MalvaceaeMain
Hibiscus schizopetalus (fringed hibiscus)MalvaceaeOther
Ipomoea (morning glory)ConvolvulaceaeOther
Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato)ConvolvulaceaeOther
Ixora chinensisRubiaceaeOther
Ixora coccinea (flame of woods)RubiaceaeOther
Jasminum (jasmine)OleaceaeOther
Jasminum auriculatumOleaceaeOther
Lactuca sativa (lettuce)AsteraceaeOther
Luffa aegyptiaca (loofah)CucurbitaceaeOther
Mangifera indica (mango)AnacardiaceaeOther
Manihot esculenta (cassava)EuphorbiaceaeMain
Manihot glaziovii (ceara rubber)EuphorbiaceaeOther
Manilkara zapota (sapodilla)SapotaceaeOther
Monstera deliciosa (ceriman)AraceaeOther
Morus (mulberrytree)MoraceaeOther
Musa (banana)MusaceaeOther
Musa x paradisiaca (plantain)MusaceaeMain
Osmanthus fragransOleaceaeOther
Persea americana (avocado)LauraceaeMain
Phaseolus (beans)FabaceaeOther
Phaseolus lunatus (lima bean)FabaceaeMain
Phaseolus vulgaris (common bean)FabaceaeOther
Physalis (Groundcherry)SolanaceaeOther
Plumeria (frangipani)ApocynaceaeOther
Plumeria albaApocynaceaeOther
Pongamia pinnata (Indian beech)FabaceaeOther
Prunus (stone fruit)RosaceaeMain
Psidium guajava (guava)MyrtaceaeMain
Pterocarpus indicus (red sandalwood)FabaceaeOther
Rhododendron (Azalea)EricaceaeOther
Ricinus communis (castor bean)EuphorbiaceaeOther
Rorippa indica (Indian marshcress)BrassicaceaeOther
Rosa (roses)RosaceaeOther
Rubus (blackberry, raspberry)RosaceaeOther
Salvia (sage)LamiaceaeOther
Sauropus androgynusEuphorbiaceaeOther
Schinus terebinthifolius (Brazilian pepper tree)AnacardiaceaeOther
Senna montanaFabaceaeOther
Solanum (nightshade)SolanaceaeOther
Solanum lycopersicum (tomato)SolanaceaeOther
Solanum melongena (aubergine)SolanaceaeOther
Solanum nigrum (black nightshade)SolanaceaeMain
Sorghum bicolor (sorghum)PoaceaeOther
Tabernaemontana divaricataApocynaceaeOther
Terminalia catappa (Singapore almond)CombretaceaeOther
Vigna (cowpea)FabaceaeOther
Zingiber zerumbet (shampoo ginger)ZingiberaceaeOther

Growth Stages

Top of page Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Seedling stage, Vegetative growing stage


Top of page In cassava, A. dispersus infestation caused yellowish speckling of the leaves, and in severe infestation the leaves crinkled and curled. Infestation spread from the bottom leaves to the top (Palaniswami et al., 1995).

Copious honeydew is excreted which coats surrounding surfaces and often develops a layer of sooty mould.

List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Leaves / abnormal colours
Leaves / honeydew or sooty mould
Leaves / honeydew or sooty mould
Leaves / honeydew or sooty mould

Biology and Ecology

Top of page Females, collected in the field in Sri Lanka and studied in the laboratory, each laid 14-26 eggs in a loose spiral on the underside of leaves. The common name of A. dispersus, the spiralling whitefly, is derived from this characteristic egg-laying pattern, although other species of aleurodicine whitefly also lay eggs in spiral patterns (Martin, 1990). The eggs hatched after 7-10 days, the first and second larval instars lasted for 6-9 days in total, the third instar for 5-13 days and the fourth (pupae) 5-16 days. Adults lived for about 2 weeks (Wijesekera and Kudagamage, 1990). The immature stages of A. dispersus are found on the lower leaf surface of host plants. The leaf structure of the host plant appears to affect feeding preference (Wen et al., 1994a). The larval stages and adults feed by sucking phloem sap from leaves. Copious honeydew is excreted which coats surrounding surfaces and often develops a layer of sooty mould when colonies are poorly controlled.

Wen et al. (1994b) described the effects of temperature on development rate and fecundity. Adults were active between 12.3-32.3°C and maximum female fecundity occurred at 25°C. A. dispersus populations were found all year round in southern Taiwan, building up rapidly in October, reaching a peak in November, and then declining gradually after December. The developmental time (from oviposition to eclosion) of the pest at 25°C on poinsettia, canna, guavas and pawpaws was 26.1, 25.0, 29.4 and 26.1 days; immature mortality was 26.9, 24.5, 33.3 and 27.8%; and fecundity was 65.2, 35.8, 51.3 and 58.0 eggs per female, respectively (Wen et al., 1996).

Females begin laying eggs within a few days of emergence, and continue to lay throughout their lifetime. The rate of population growth can be rapid. In one experiment, 20 pairs produced 1549 individuals in 37 days (Waterhouse and Norris, 1989). Unmated females produce only male progeny, while mated females produce a mixture of male and female progeny. Adults are most active in the morning, but mate in the afternoon (Waterhouse and Norris, 1989).

In the USA, A. dispersus is limited to southern coastal areas in Florida where mild winter temperatures occur. Extreme mortality occurs at low temperatures (below 10°C), which limits the northward spread of A. dispersus in the Americas (Cherry, 1979).

Manzano et al. (1995) described the biology of A. dispersus in the Canary Islands. In Karnataka, India, Aishwariya et al. (2007) studied the biology of A. dispersus on guava during the winter, summer and wet seasons.

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Allograpta obliqua Predator Adults/Larvae/Nymphs/Pupae
Cheilomenes sexmaculata Predator Adults/Nymphs
Chilocorus nigrita Predator Adults/Larvae/Pupae
Chrysopa Predator Larvae/Pupae
Chrysoperla comanche Predator Adults/Nymphs
Coelophora inaequalis Predator Adults/Larvae/Nymphs/Pupae
Cryptolaemus montrouzieri Predator
Curinus coeruleus Predator Adults/Larvae/Pupae
Delphastus pusillus Predator Adults/Nymphs American Samoa; Hawaii guavas; polyphagous
Encarsia guadeloupae Parasite
Encarsia haitiensis Parasite Adults/Larvae/Nymphs Guam; Northern Mariana Islands guavas; Plumeria
Encarsia meritoria Parasite
Encarsia nigricephala Parasite
Encarsia sophia Parasite
Encarsia transvena
Encarsiella aleurodici Parasite Larvae/Pupae
Encarsiella noyesi Parasite Larvae/Pupae
Euderomphale vittata Parasite Larvae
Harmonia sedecimnotata Predator Adults/Larvae/Nymphs/Pupae
Iridomyrmex anceps Predator Adults/Nymphs
Lecanicillium lecanii Pathogen
Nephaspis amnicola Predator Adults/Nymphs Hawaii
Nephaspis bicolor Predator Adults/Larvae/Pupae
Nephaspis oculata Predator Adults/Nymphs
Olla v-nigrum Predator Adults/Larvae/Pupae
Paragus serratus Predator Adults/Larvae/Nymphs/Pupae
Scymnus Predator Adults/Larvae/Pupae

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page A. dispersus is recorded as being frequently parasitized in Florida, USA (Russell, 1965). The common parasitoids of A. dispersus on banana in Costa Rica were described by Blanco Metzler and Laprade (1998). Gerling (1990) presented a short key for parasitoids of whiteflies. Clausen (1934) listed natural enemies of Aleyrodidae in tropical Asia, although A. dispersus was probably not present in Asia at that time.

Encarsia haitiensis was believed to be host-specific on A. dispersus (Waterhouse and Norris, 1989); however, E. haitiensis as a parasitoid of A. dispersus is based on a misidentification. The species widely reported in published papers as E. haitiensis or E. near haitiensis is in fact an undescribed species closely related to Encarsia hispida, which also attacks A. dispersus (Polaszek et al., 2004). Hernandez-Suarez et al. (2003) reported E. hispida and Encarsia guadeloupae affecting A. dispersus in the Canary Islands.

Paulson and Kumashiro (1985) described natural enemies of A. dispersus in Hawaii. Kumashiro et al. (1983) described the introduction of two parasitoids and several coccinellids into Hawaii for the biological control of A. dispersus, of which Nephaspis oculatus (N. amnicola) was the most effective coccinellid predator. Yoshida and Mau (1985) described the life history and feeding behaviour of N. oculatus. Although N. oculatus has a wide prey range in laboratory studies, in the field it shows a strong preference for whiteflies. However, it is only effective as a natural enemy within high prey densities. In contrast, E. haitiensis is most effective when whitefly populations are low (Kumashiro et al., 1983).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

Top of page Movement in Trade

The eggs and larvae of A. dispersus may be transported on leaves, and these early insect stages are often cryptic. The eggs may also be transported on fruit. Newly-dead foliage may harbour puparia, which are usually detected by the presence of woolly secretions.

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Clothing, footwear and possessionsAir travel with viable plant material Yes

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Fruits (inc. pods) eggs Yes
Leaves eggs; larvae Yes
Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Growing medium accompanying plants
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches
True seeds (inc. grain)

Wood Packaging

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Wood Packaging not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Loose wood packing material
Processed or treated wood
Solid wood packing material with bark
Solid wood packing material without bark

Impact Summary

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Animal/plant collections Negative
Animal/plant products Negative
Biodiversity (generally) None
Crop production Negative
Environment (generally) Negative
Fisheries / aquaculture None
Forestry production None
Human health Negative
Livestock production None
Native fauna None
Native flora Negative
Rare/protected species None
Tourism Negative
Trade/international relations Negative
Transport/travel None


Top of page The economic impact of A. dispersus infestations is due to a combination of three factors. Direct feeding damage results from the extraction of sap from leaves, mainly by larval stages but with adults also contributing. Direct feeding can cause premature leaf drop, reduces plant vigour and yields, but rarely kills plants outright. Indirect damage is due to excreted honeydew that encourages the development of sooty moulds, which hinder photosynthesis and reduce yields. Finally, cosmetic damage is due both to sooty moulds and to the white flocculence secreted by immature stages, which reduces the market-value of crops. Wind-borne flocculence can be unsightly, and may also contribute to asthma attacks (Waterhouse and Norris, 1989).

A. dispersus is not usually an economic pest within its native range of Central America and the Caribbean. In Florida, USA, where A. dispersus has been collected from avocados, citrus, guavas and palms, it was initially suspected of being a vector of the mycoplasma causing coconut lethal yellowing disease (Russell, 1965). Lethal yellows was first recorded a short time after A. dispersus became established, and has in the past been responsible for the loss of over 90% of the coconut palms in the Florida Keys (Russell, 1965; Weems, 1971). However, a planthopper is now suspected of being the lethal yellowing disease vector (Waterhouse and Norris, 1989). A. dispersus is currently only a minor pest in Florida.

In regions where A. dispersus has established in the absence of its natural enemies, however, it can be a serious pest of many horticultural crops, vegetable crops, ornamentals, fruit trees and shade trees. A. dispersus was first recorded in Hawaii in 1978, for example, and a year later it was considered to be a major economic pest of a diverse range of crops. Successful biological programs have been in operation in Hawaii since the early 1980s (Kumashiro et al., 1983).

A. dispersus is a recently discovered economic pest in both southern India and west Africa. In India, for example, it has reached pest status on cassava, where up to 580 insects per leaf have been observed (Palaniswami et al., 1995). A range of susceptible crops has been catalogued in Kerala, India, by Ranjith et al. (1996) and in Nigeria by Akinlosotu et al. (1993). It has also recently been recorded on soyabean in Indonesia, where it is a potential economic pest (Kajita et al., 1991). Since its accidental introduction into Taiwan in 1988, it has posed a serious threat to fruit trees, forest trees, food crops, ornamentals and shade trees throughout the country (Wen et al., 1997). A. dispersus currently presents a major threat to Australian agriculture, as it has recently entered Queensland via the Torres Strait islands (Lambkin, 1998).

Detection and Inspection

Top of page When A. dispersus are abundant they are conspicuous on leaves due to the white flocculence that covers their bodies (Russell, 1965). They are found on the undersides of leaves, often associated with sticky honeydew and sometimes sooty mould growth.

A. dispersus were found in significantly higher numbers in the upper canopy than in the middle and the lower canopy on guava (Shah Alam et al., 1997).

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page Russell (1965) described A. dispersus in comparison with the closely related A. coccolobae and A. flavus. Identification is on the basis of distinctive compound and simple pores in the pupal stage. It should be noted that other members of this genus, mostly native to the Neotropical region, also lay their eggs in spiral patterns like A. dispersus. Reliable identification requires microscopic study of slide-mounted pupal cases.

Martin et al. (1997) provided keys to enable adults and puparia of A. dispersus to be distinguished from the newly introduced crop pest Lecanoideus floccissimus sp. nov. in the Canary Islands.

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Biological Control

A. dispersus was first recorded in Hawaii in 1978, after which it spread rapidly. Its pest status on guavas stimulated a successful biological control programme (Kumashiro et al., 1983; Beardsley, 1992). The introduction and establishment of the coccinellid beetle Nephaspis oculatus (N. amnicola) and the parasitoid Encarsia haitiensis successfully controlled A. dispersus on guavas in highland and lowland areas of Honolulu, Hawaii. In 1980-81, peak population densities of A. dispersus were reduced by 79% in the lowlands and 98.8% in the highlands. Rainfall, temperature and previously established predators, particularly Allograpta obliqua, probably also contributed to the reduction of A. dispersus populations (Kumashiro et al., 1983).

Since the biological control of A. dispersus in Hawaii, there have been further successes on Pacific Islands; for a review see Waterhouse and Norris (1989). In each case, Encarsia haitiensis was successful, aided by one or more of the introduced coccinellids.

A biological programme in Tropical Africa was described by Neuenschwander (1996), in which two exotic hymenopterous parasitoids were introduced. These helped control A. dispersus populations, with indigenous coccinellids playing a minor role. A. dispersus was observed in Benin for the first time in 1993, along with the parasitoids Encarsia ?haitiensis and E. guadeloupae, which were thought to have been accidentally introduced. Between 1993 and 1996, these parasitoids helped control A. dispersus populations on guava (D'Almeida et al., 1998). E. haitiensis has been successfully introduced into Queensland, as part of the biological control of A. dispersus in Australia (Lambkin, 1998).

Chemical Control

Kajita et al. (1991) described some insecticides effective against A. dispersus on soyabeans in Indonesia. However, because the whitefly has such a wide host-plant range, and insecticides also impact natural enemies, chemical control is usually considered impractical and uneconomic in the long-term (Kajita et al., 1991; Lambkin, 1998). Laprade and Cerdas (1998) evaluated insecticide treatments on banana farms in Costa Rica. Dilute aqueous solutions of soaps and detergents have also provided effective control in smallholdings, in conjunction with pruning and mulching, the latter to counter moisture loss by plants due to infestation (Anon., 1980).


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