The greenhouse whitefly, Trialeurodes vaporariorum (Westwood) (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae), is known to respond to UV light (UV). Field studies were conducted to improve our understanding of the behavioral effects and practical implications of using UV-blocking plastic films for the control of whitefly. Adult whiteflies were released in outdoor-located choice-chamber experiments with compartments clad with a range of films that transmitted incident UV to different extents. In release-recapture experiments, a very small proportion of the whiteflies recovered had dispersed into compartments where the entire UV spectrum was blocked, whereas the major proportion preferred compartments with UV. Compartments clad with films that blocked UV below 375 nm attracted significantly more whiteflies than films that blocked UV below 385 nm, whereas the absorption of UV wavelengths above 385 nm did not show any further effect on whitefly numbers. A reduction in the side cladding of the compartments by >20% significantly reduced the advantage of using UV-blocking films. Adult whitefly did not discriminate between direct- and diffused-light environments, as long as the UV-absorbing properties of the films were equivalent. Whitefly dispersal was influenced by the time of the day when adult whitefly were released, with a higher proportion of whitefly avoiding compartments clad with UV-blocking films, at times of the day when light intensities were higher. The future use of UV-blocking films as a potentially highly effective component of integrated pest management systems for the control of whitefly is discussed.
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Vol. 100 • No. 2