Thursday, June 20, 2013

Aleurodicus rugioperculatus – Rugose Spiraling Whitefly

Aleurodicus rugioperculatus, the Spiraling Whitefly
Aleurodicus rugioperculatus, the rugose spiraling whitefly, on the lower surface of a leaflet of a Biscayne prickly-ash, Zanthoxylum coriaceum, a Florida state-listed endangered species.

Last year, the rugose spiraling whiteflies were everywhere and on everything in my yard, including orchids and grasses. They did their worst damage on a 15-year-old small-flowered pawpaw, Asimina parviflora, a northern and central Florida shrub or small tree that I was told was impossible to grow in south Florida. However, the small-flowered pawpaw did not know it couldn't grow in south Florida and, in its 15th year, it was flowering profusely and setting dozens of fruits. It was a good-looking plant and was one of the focal points of my backyard but the whiteflies killed all top growth. And I don't mean they defoliated it. All of the smaller branches and all but the lowest portion of the main stems were killed. Luckily, it resprouted from near the base this year and the whiteflies have left it alone . . . so they could focus all of their energy on the poor Biscayne prickly-ash.

My small-flowered pawpaw, Asimina parviflora before the onslaught of rugose spiraling whiteflies.

Image and text © 2013 Rufino Osorio

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