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Bug of the Week: Whitefly or Not

Insect common names are sometimes misleading.

yellow-bodied-whitefly-11

Take this tiny whitefly, for example. It isn't really a fly (not family Diptera). Instead it belongs to the same family as aphids and scale insects.

It also isn't really white.

whitefly-side(A one-sixteenth-inch long Silverleaf whitefly, Bemisia argentifolii. Photo by Scott Bauer, USDA-ARS)

If you could see under a microscope for a view like this, you would notice the body of the whitefly is actually yellow, almost the same color as the petal of the desert marigold flower the one at the top is sitting on.

Where does the whitefly get its name? Its body and wings are covered with a powdery coating of white wax particles. The wax probably helps protect it from water and predators.

Now you know more about whiteflies, what would you have named them?

 

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