Plant-mediated interactions between whiteflies, herbivores, and natural enemies

Moshe Inbar, Dan Gerling

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Whiteflies (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae) comprise tiny phloem-sucking insects. The sessile development of their immatures and their phloem-feeding habits (with minimal physical plant damage) often lead to plant-mediated interactions with other organisms. The main data come from the polyphagous pest species Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) and Trialeurodes vaporariorum (Westwood), which are intricately associated with their host plants. Although these associations might not represent aleyrodids in general, we rely on them to highlight the fundamental role of host plants in numerous ecological interactions between whiteflies, other herbivores, and their natural enemies. Plant traits often affect the activity, preference, and performance of the whiteflies, as well as their entomopathogens, predators, and parasitoids. Leaf structure (primarily pubescence) and constitutive and induced chemical profiles (defensive and nutritional elements) are critically important determinants of whitefly fitness. Pest management-related and evolutionary biology studies could benefit from future research that will consider whiteflies in a multitrophic-level framework.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-448
Number of pages18
JournalAnnual Review of Entomology
StatePublished - 2008


  • Competition
  • Indirect effects
  • Induced response
  • Insect-plant relationships
  • Tritrophic relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science


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