Whitefly Infestation Information and Response Main Page

A new type of whitefly infestation on trees, palms, shrubs and fruits was identified in public areas and private properties in the Village of Key Biscayne in 2011. The gumbo limbo spiraling whitefly, a leaf-sucking insect, was first observed in Miami-Dade County on a gumbo limbo tree in March 2009. The pest is believed to originate in the Caribbean/Central America.

Since the insects have been seen on several types of trees and palms in South Florida they are now referred to as rugose spiraling whiteflies. This species is different from the ficus whitefly that defoliated ficus hedges throughout the area several years ago.  According to Dr. Catharine Mannion, a Univeristy of Florida Associate Professor of Entemology and Extension Specialist based in Homestead, the type and amount of damage caused by rugose spiraling whiteflies is dependent on the plant, and different plants may show different symptoms of infestation. Leaf drop occurs in some plants but others do not drop their leaves at all.

In addition to Dr. Mannion, a recognized expert in whitefly research, the Village has enlisted the services of long-time Village Arborist John Sutton (www.suttonconsultingarborist.com) to identify, monitor and evaluate treatment options for vegetation in the Village infested with the rugose spiraling whitefly. Fred Hein, the Village's representative for Pest Control Contractor TruGreen, is also part of the team. These experts are working closely with staff in the Building, Zoning and Planning Department and its Public Works Division.

The following sections and links provide general information about the Rugose Spiraling Whitefly, the history of infestation in the Village of Key Biscayne as well as treatment efforts by the Village, outreach programs to educate property owners about the issue, and reports by experts partnering with Village officials to address the problems associated with the infestation. Information about proper tree pruning and when trees can be removed also are included. Village officials remind residents that illegal hatracking of trees is not a whitefly solution.








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