Whiteflies have a strange life cycle that involves spending almost their entire lives in a sessile (immobile) state.
First-stage nymphs - termed "crawlers"
- hatch from eggs
- can walk short distances
- or are carried by air currents
Once the crawler has selected a feeding site under a suitable leaf it undergoes its first moult.
Second, third and fourth immature stages
- do not have functioning legs and simply
- feed on the plant host’s phloem sap - if the plant dies, so do they.
- secrete white, waxy, material as pretty filaments and curls - the final nymphal stage resembling some sort of exotic confectionary.
- emerge from their unlikely-looking “puparia”
- just a couple of millimetres from wing-tip to wing-tip
- disperse by flying
- can mate