The sweet potato whitefly, Bemisia tabsci, is an invasive pest of vegetable crops. The “B” biotype caused problems in many crops during the 1980s, but has been controlled with the introduction of neonicotinoid insecticides. Biotype Q Bemisia tabsci were first characterized on the Iberian peninsula but have since gone global. Biotype Q has metabolic (cytochrome P450 based) resistance to neonicotinoids and demand new management strategies or re-adoption of older strategy. Florida homeowners are advised to treat whitefly populations that are not affected by the usual insecticide treatments to try insecticidal soap or light oils. The spread in Florida and other locations in the US has the potential to create economic losses.
Whitefly damage has been reported in some GMO crops such as cotton in Northern India. Many GMO crops such as cotton have neonicotinoid seed treatments that control sucking insects such as whiteflies that are unaffected by genetic modification with BT. Whitefly resistance to neonicotiniods may require a new strategy. Insects have a habit of developing resistance to our most effective control measures. No insect problem has a final solution. Continuing to develop new solutions keep insect biologists busy.