white·​fly ˈ(h)wīt-ˌflī How to pronounce whitefly (audio)
: any of numerous small homopterous insects (family Aleyrodidae) that are injurious plant pests

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Tens of millions of years ago, a tiny, milky-white bug known as a whitefly snatched a gene from its host, an ancient plant. Nathaniel Scharping, Discover Magazine, 13 Jan. 2022 Aphids, mites, thrips, mealybugs, scale and whitefly are typical hitchhikers, and could be lurking under foliage, on stems, or even among the roots. Miri Talabac, Baltimore Sun, 15 Sep. 2022 Whiteflies, the bane of tomato greenhouses, which lay their eggs on tomato leaves, are controlled by the release of Encarsia formosa, a predatory, near-microscopic wasp that lays its eggs in immature whitefly. Luke Peterson, The Salt Lake Tribune, 18 Oct. 2021 Besides revealing a fascinating piece of biology, the findings may also help protect future crops from the sap-sucking whitefly, per Nature. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, 30 Mar. 2021 The whitefly would have to ingest those phenolic glycosides when feeding on the tomato plant and that would usually kill it. Chris Smith, BGR, 26 Mar. 2021 Then, when the virus infected the whitefly, the plant DNA spread and was eventually incorporated into the bug’s genome. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, 30 Mar. 2021 But the BtPMaT1 gene neutralizes these toxins, so the whitefly can continue to destroy crops undisturbed. Chris Smith, BGR, 26 Mar. 2021 Humans, too, could help by engineering crops that turn the whitefly’s gene off, making the insect vulnerable once again. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 25 Mar. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'whitefly.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1896, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of whitefly was in 1896

Dictionary Entries Near whitefly

Cite this Entry

“Whitefly.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whitefly. Accessed 31 May. 2023.

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