Maybe it was wishful thinking that had me ignoring the numerous white flies that buzzed around my backyard tomato plants whenever I brushed past their leaves. Until my neighbor noted, matter-of-factly, “You have whitefly.” Aphids and blight I was schooled in, but whitefly? Never heard of it. Upon further inspection I found an entire stalk to be diseased-looking (with tumor-like bumps and dying leaves). I could ignore the white flies (and the whitefly) no longer.
Turns out whitefly can be dealt with in similar ways as aphids. Beneficial insects are the best route – ladybugs are a favorite and can be ordered online or bought at many gardening centers. However, because these are in pots in my backyard (my community garden tomato plants are, thankfully, unaffected) I decided to go with a topic solution. Safer Soap is a spray I picked up at the hardware store – and is certified for organic gardening! I gave a spray the other evening and found only a few remaining buzzing white flies the next morning. I feel confident that I will save all but that one diseased stalk (which I am cutting off at the base) with one more spray and some vigilance.