Silverleaf whitefly (SLW) (Bemisia tabaci biotype B), a major global pest, was first recorded in Australia in 1994. Since then it has established as a serious pest of many vegetable crops across Queensland. This polyphagous pest causes severe damage to crops through direct feeding, honeydew contamination of plants and fruit and by injecting a toxin into plants that causes physiological disorders including tomato irregular ripening and silverleaf in cucurbits. It also vectors tomato yellow leaf curl virus.
SLW arrived in Australia already resistant to most pyrethroid and organophosphate insecticides. Since 1996 pyrethroids and imidacloprid mainly have been used to control SLW in vegetable crops. Resistance monitoring of SLW in horticultural crops showed a very rapid rate in the development of resistance to insecticides. Resistance to insect growth regulators was detected after four years of use in vegetable crops in North Queensland. SLW caused severe economic losses to tomatoes, melons, green beans, pumpkin, eggplant, zucchini, cucumber and sweetpotato. Economic losses attributable to SLW are estimated at over $500 million to Queensland vegetable industry. These losses include direct crop loss, the cost of chemical control and the loss of jobs and people’s income.
Since 1996 industry funded research projects have been undertaken on SLW biology and ecology and short-term chemical control options. Recent researches/studies were targeted on long-term integrated management strategies including biological control, the use of selective insecticides, resistance management and industry engagement. In this paper we present an overview of 15 years of scientific research on SLW and the challenges faced during the implementation of research outcomes with growers and industry service providers.