Aleurodicus dispersus (whitefly)
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- Risk of Introduction
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Growth Stages
- List of Symptoms/Signs
- Biology and Ecology
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Vectors
- Plant Trade
- Wood Packaging
- Impact Summary
- Detection and Inspection
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Aleurodicus dispersus Russell, 1965
Preferred Common Name
International Common Names
- English: spiralling whitefly
- Spanish: mosca blanca
- French: aleurode
- ALEDDI (Aleurodicus dispersus)
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- 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 NomenclatureTop of page
DescriptionTop of page
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.
DistributionTop of page
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 TableTop of page
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.Last updated: 17 Feb 2021
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Congo, Republic of the||Present|
|São Tomé and Príncipe||Present|
|Netherlands||Absent, Confirmed absent by survey|
|Australia||Present, Few occurrences|
|-Queensland||Present, Few occurrences|
|Federated States of Micronesia||Present|
|Northern Mariana Islands||Present|
|Papua New Guinea||Present|
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
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 AffectedTop of page
Growth StagesTop of page
SymptomsTop of page
Copious honeydew is excreted which coats surrounding surfaces and often develops a layer of sooty mould.
List of Symptoms/SignsTop of page
|Leaves / abnormal colours|
|Leaves / honeydew or sooty mould|
|Leaves / honeydew or sooty mould|
|Leaves / honeydew or sooty mould|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
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 enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
|Delphastus pusillus||Predator||Adults/Nymphs||American Samoa; Hawaii||guavas; polyphagous|
|Encarsia haitiensis||Parasite||Adults/Larvae/Nymphs||Guam; Northern Mariana Islands||guavas; Plumeria|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
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 DispersalTop of page
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 VectorsTop of page
|Clothing, footwear and possessions||Air travel with viable plant material||Yes|
Plant TradeTop of page
|Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transport||Pest stages||Borne internally||Borne externally||Visibility of pest or symptoms|
|Fruits (inc. pods)||eggs||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 PackagingTop of page
|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 SummaryTop of page
|Fisheries / aquaculture||None|
ImpactTop of page
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 InspectionTop of page
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/ConditionsTop of page
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 ControlTop of page
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).
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).
ReferencesTop of page
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D'Almeida YA, Lys JA, Neuenschwander P, Ajuonu O, 1998. Impact of two accidentally introduced Encarsia species (Hymenoptera: Aphelinidae) and other biotic and abiotic factors on the spiralling whitefly Aleurodicus dispersus (Russell) (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae), in Benin, West Africa. Biocontrol Science and Technology, 8(1):163-173; 15 ref.
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