Playing with White flies (Trialeurodes)

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I met with three other DC micronauts  last weekend to explore focus-locking, liquid samples and projection microscopes. Since I had a plant infested with white flies, we decided to investigate the white flies. White flies typically can be found in the lower side of a leaf. Here you can see the heavy infestation.

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One of the challenges was to catch the white flies without squishing them. After a few tries we decided to use the ditch-spacer slide technique with PVCs, where we trapped a leaf filled with white flies.  This time instead of the PVC cover, we used a plastic coverslip and used the thin PVC-strip  like a cellophanetape. The thin PVC works really well as a tape substitute as it seals with the glass or thick PVC, and it is also very easy to remove.

Eggs of the whitefly were quite easily seen, but the white fly was not very transparent. We still saw aspects of the internal anatomy through transmitting light.

However, when we used the side illumination, the colors of the white fly and the wax with which it is covered stood out. 

White flies are hemipterans related to aphids and scale insects. They can be quite a pest and can transmit viral diseases like some geminiviruses.  The white fly in this case is likely to be the common greenhouse whitefly (Trialeurodes). Our next challenge is to catch the other stages of development of this insect.

— Laks Iyer with DC Micronauts (Nataraj, Yash and Kartik)

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