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AbstractIn the past we have assumed that sweet potato whiteflies, Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius), were poor fliers with a limited ability to disperse. This assumption was based on the fact that sweet potato whiteflies are extremely small insects (24 -44 μg) and consequently would be subject to desiccation. We also thought small size would limit their capacity to store sufficient energy reserves to sustain flight for long periods of time. Recent experiments have indicated we were wrong on several counts. Data collected in the laboratory using a vertical flight chamber have revealed a number of interesting facts. Of importance is the fact that a portion of the population is capable of sustaining flight for more than 2.5 hours. In a wind-aided situation, this means they can be moved more than 25 miles in a 10 mph wind. Other details of flight behavior are being made clear to us. For example, we found that flight activity is influenced by host plant quality and age of the whitefly. We hope to eventually be able to predict when whiteflies are going to migrate between crops. This will allow growers to make informed decisions concerning planting dates. We are also working in the field to confirm laboratory results.
Series/Report no.Series P-93