The sweetpotato whitefly, Bemisia tabaci, can cause significant melon crop losses and result in excessive insecticide use. Adults and nymphs feed on the undersides of melon leaves by inserting their piercing/sucking mouthparts into vascular tissue and extracting plant juices that will reduce fruit quantity and size. Image and article by: John C. Palumbo, Associate Research Scientist of vegetable crops at the University of Arizona’s Yuma Agricultural Extension Center.
Whiteflies can cause feeding injury issues in vegetables and transmit multiple viruses. These include cucurbit leaf crumple virus, cucurbit yellow stunting disorder virus, cucurbit chlorotic yellow virus, squash vein yellowing virus and tomato yellow leaf curl virus. Vegetables like squash, zucchini, cucumber, and cantaloupe are highly susceptible to these viruses.
The Wintermantel team developed a multiplex single-step RT-PCR method to simultaneously test and differentiate among the among different viruses. Sampling of melon production regions in California and Arizona found that different combinations of viruses were dominant in fall vs. spring seasons, providing important information for disease management in areas impacted by cucurbit yellowing viruses.
Vegetables like squash, zucchini, cucumber and snap beans are susceptible to viruses transmitted by whiteflies.
UF/IFAS entomologists report high whitefly populations on all crops. Scouts are reporting increasing whitefly pressure on vegetable crops with silverleaf symptoms showing on squash.
According to the Southe Florida Pest and Disease Hotline, whitefly levels are high in many crops including watermelon and squash.
The South Florida Pest and Disease hotline reported on vegetable pests and diseases in January 2023.
UGA Extension agents explain why warmer weather is not good for farmers with vegetables vulnerable to whitefly damage.