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Sweetpotato whitefly already present in Florida and Georgia

In Southeast Farm Press

by Xavier Martini, Mathews Paret, Josh Freeman, UF/IFAS

Outbreaks of sweetpotato whiteflies have been recorded recently in the Florida Panhandle and south Georgia on tomatoes and other vegetables. This arrival of whitefly is quite unusual at this time of the year in the Florida Panhandle.

Whitefly densities usually increase in October when cotton is defoliated and soybean senesces. This early arrival of whiteflies requires attention given the recent outbreak of Q biotype whiteflies in the Florida landscape.

Whitefly is a generalist herbivore insect that feeds on 600 host plants. Sweetpotato whitefly damages plants directly by feeding and cause silverleaf disorder in cucurbits and irregular ripening in tomato. It also vectors over 111 different plant viruses such as the Squash Vein Yellowing Virus that can kill watermelon plants and results in necrotic areas on the fruit, the Cucurbit Leaf Crumple Virus that is mainly destructive for squash, but also affects other cucurbits, and the Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus that affects tomatoes.

Sweetpotato whitefly is a complex of 28 cryptic species. In the US, the most common are the B and the Q biotypes. The Q biotype is a particular source of concern, as it is more resistant to insecticides than B biotype, and is replacing B biotype in other parts of the world. Since July 2016, Q biotype has been found in 8 counties in Florida, but not in the Panhandle to this point.

Read the rest of this story in Southeast Farm Press.


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