IRR2007.01 Acacia whitefly (Trialeurodes acaciae)

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Immatures on Leucaena leucocephala leaves; image by A. Moore; 16 June 2007; Two Lover's Point, Guam
Close-up of immatures on Leucaena leucocephala leaves; image by A. Moore; 16 June 2007; Two Lover's Point, Guam
Adult with eggs and immatures on Leucaena leucocephala leaves; image by A. Moore; 16 June 2007; Two Lover's Point, Guam
Defoliation from whitefly infestation at Two Lover's Point, Guam; 16 June 2007
Defoliation from whitefly infestation at Two Lover's Point, Guam; 5 July 2007
Acacia whitefly on Erythrina; UOG campus, Guam; 5 Feb 2008
Acacia whitefly on Erythrina; UOG campus, Guam; 5 Feb 2008


The acacia whitefly, Trialeurodes acaciae, (Quaintance) was found at Two Lover's Point on Guam by Dr. Aubrey Moore, University of Guam Extension Entomologist, on June 16, 2007. Dr. Moore was investigating a report of "small white flies bothering tourists" at the Two Lover's Point lookout. It was discovered that these insects were whiteflies emerging from a severe infestation on nearby tangan-tangan, Leucaena leucocephala. Species identification was comfirmed by Dr. Gregory A. Evans, National Whitefly Identifier of USDA-APHIS-PPQ based on specimens of immatures which were sent to him. A delimiting survey of Guam on June 19 and 20, 2007 found that the acacia whitefly had infested most stands of L. leucocephala throughout the island. It has also been found on Gliricidia sepium and the endangered endemic tree, Serianthes nelsonii. On Aug. 8, 2007 this whitefly was found on Erythrina leaves at Fish Eye Park. Also found infesting Erythrina and giant sensitive plant, Mimosa diplotricha, on the University of Guam campus, Feb. 5, 2008.

More information.

Geographical Distribution

T. acaciae is a native of California and Mexico (Hoddle 2006).

USA (AZ, CA, FL, TX), Mexico, Hong Kong, Cuba, Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Venezuela, British West Indies, Colombia

Host Plants

Major host plants for the Acacia whitely are legumes, but this species has been reported from many plant genera including Acacia, Aeschynomene, Albizia, Amorpha, Bauhinia, Bignonia, Bensera, Bolusanthus, Bougainvillea, Brya, Bursera, Caesalpinia, Calliandra, Capsicum, Cassia, Centrosema, Ceratonia, Cercis, Chamaecrista, Chamaedorea, Chamaesyce, Citrus, Cladrastis, Cnidoscolus, Cotoneaster, Coursetia, Cytisus, Dalbergia, Desmodium, Diphysa, Eryngium, Erythrina, Fabaceae, Ficus, Galactia, Gliricidia, Glycine, Gymnocladus, Hardenbergia, Indigofera, Inga, Jatropha, Kennedia, Leucaena, Lonchocarpus, Maackia, Melaleuca, Melicoccus, Millettia, Mimosa, Morus, Musa, Myrica, Olneya, Pachira, Pachyrhizus, Parietaria, Parkia, Pelargonium, Phaseolus, Piscidia, Pithecellobium, Pongamia, Populus, Prosopis, Pseudobombax, Rhamnus, Rhus, Robinia, Rosa, Senna, Sophora, Spondias, Symplocarpus, Tamarindus, Templetonia, Tephrosia and Wisteria. Genera shown in bold face occur on Guam.


Heavy infestation of tangan-tangan by the acacia whitefly causes defoliation. The probable extent and secondary affects of widespread tangan-tangan defoliation on Guam is unknown. A similar situation occurred in the 1980s after arrival of the tangan-tangan psyllid, Heteropsylla cubana.


Eggs are deposited singly on the underside of host plant leaves leaves. The newly emerged first instar is translucent green with short antennae and clearly visible eyes. Unlike most other whiteflies, the first instar shows a distinct tendency to migrate from the lower surface of the leaf (site of oviposition) and settle on the upper surface. The 2nd-4th instar larve are black with a pronounced white fringe around the lateral margin. The adults are uniform light yellow in color and of typical whitefly shape. Both sexes are small with the female (0.83 +/- 0.032 mm long) being larger than the male (0.70 +/- 0.031 mm long). Both sexes have immaculate powdery-white wings and completely separated red eyes. Unlike the citrus blackfly, or cloudy-winged whitefly (Dialeurodes citrifolii (Morgan)),both sexes are very active fliers. When populations are large, thousands of adults are constantly in flight around infested plants.


  • The SEL Whitefly Ecology Database lists only 2 species on Leucaena: Aleurotrachelus trachoides and Tetraleurodes acaciae. (This does not look like A. trachoides --Aubrey Moore 21:03, 15 June 2007 (PDT))
  • Matches image of Tetraleurodes acaciae pupa published at
  • Tetraleurodes acaciae is a native of California and Mexico (Hoddle 2006)
  • Tetraleurodes acaciae is now known to be in the Pacific, the Philippines and Hong Kong, where it colonises a number of leguminous plants (Martin 2003)
  • De Barro (1997) found T. acaciae on papaya on Guam in his 1996 survey. This was the first time this species was found in the Pacific.
  • The whitefly was confirmed as Tetraleurodes acaciae (Quaintance) by Gregory A. Evans, national whitefly identifier of USDA-APHIS-PPQ on or before July 6, 2007. Thanks to Dr. Russell Campbell, Guam Department of Agriculture, for assistance in sending specimens for identification.
  • Found infesting Gliricidia sepium at Guam DOA nursery and organic garden. --Aubrey Moore 00:06, 10 July 2007 (PDT)
  • Found infesting monkeypod, Pithecellobium at a Mangilao plant nursery on September 20, 2007. --Aubrey Moore 18:05, 30 September 2007 (PDT)

Delimiting Survey 19 - 20 June 2007 The whitefly infestation on Leucaena leucocephala is widespread throughout Guam. We did not find immatures on papaya or any other hosts.

  • Site 12 - 60 young, wild papaya plants about 5 feet high; no whitefly infestation detected although nearby Leucaena was infested
  • Site 22 - 1 mature papaya plant; not infested with whiteflies


  • Martin, J. 2003. An inventory of whiteflies in Belize: what relevance for EWSN? EWSN Newsletter 15. Available at Accessed 2007 June 16.
  • Brown, Judith K. 2007. University of Arizona Whitefly Database
  • Rose, M. & G. Zolnerowich 2003. Eretmocerus picketti new species (Hymenoptera: Chalcidoidea: Aphelinidae), reared from Tetraleurodes acaciae (Quaintance) (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae: Aleyrodinae). Pan-Pacific Entomologist 79:2 p.119-127.
  • Villacarlos, L. T., B. S. Mejia & S. Keller 2003. Entomophthora leyteensis Villacarlos & Keller sp. nov. (Entomophthorales: Zygomycetes) infecting Tetraleurodes acaciae (Quaintance) (Insecta, Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae), a recently introduced whitefly on Gliricidia sepium (Jaq.) Walp. (Fabaceae) in the Philippines. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology 83:1 pp. 16-22.
  • Hoddle, Mark S. 2006. Phenology, life tables, and reproductive biology of Tetraleurodes perseae (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) on California avocados. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 99(3): p. 553-559. PDF
  • Dowell, R. V. 1982. Biology of Tetraleurodes acaciae (Quaintance) (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae). Pan-Pac. Entomol. 58:321-318.
  • De Barro, P. 1997. Survey of Bemesia tabaci Biotype B whitefly (also known as B. argentifolii) and its natural enemies in the South Pacific. Final Report, ACIAR Project No. 96/148. CSIRO Entomology, Canberra. 22 pages. DOC