Habitat and distribution

Habitat

Aleurodicus dispersus, spiralling whitefly, develops as colonies of individuals on the underside of the host plant's leaves. 

The presence of spiralling whitefly is betrayed by the copious white waxy material secreted by individual insects (see photo). 

The bug lives in tropical and warm subtropical environments, rarely at high altitudes because of cooling.

Global distribution 

The history of the spread of this insect across the world is interesting and important.

  • For many years prior to its description it was intercepted, with increasing frequency from the 1950s onwards, by port quarantine officials in the United States, always on plant material from South and Central America. In fact this insect belongs to a group that is native to South and Central America so these interceptions were initially of relatively little concern, until it became established in Florida.
  • In 1962, colonies were discovered in the Canary Islands, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
  • In 1965 this whitefly was finally named and formally described, but its common name appears to have been coined some time later.
  • The situation remained apparently static until the early 1980s when it appeared in Hawaii and on other islands across the Pacific Ocean.
  • By the mid-1980s it was established right across tropical Asia and by the early 1990s it was also in India, the Indian Ocean and parts of West Africa.
  • In 2009 it may now have achieved stability, occurring almost everywhere in the tropics and subtropics but not (yet) found in the Middle East, Mediterranean region, Hong Kong or in most of Australia.