Singhiella simplex (Singh): Ficus Whitefly

California Pest Rating for
Singhiella simplex (Singh): Ficus Whitefly
Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae
Pest Rating: B

Initiating Event:

On October 11, 2012, Los Angeles County entomologist Gevork Arakelian collected a large number of immature whiteflies on cuban laurel street trees (Ficus microcarpa) in the city of San Gabriel. He also observed large numbers of adults flying around and that five or six trees were infested. On October 16, 2012 Dr. Gillian Watson confirmed that the whiteflies were Singhiella simplex, ficus whitefly, a new state record.

History & Status:

Background: Singhiella simplex is most commonly found on weeping ficus (Ficus benjamina)1. It also feeds on cuban laurel (F. microcarpa), strangler ficus (F. aurea), banyan tree (F. benghalensis), fiddle leaf tree (F. lyrata), banana leaf ficus (F. maclellandii), false banyan tree or lofty ficus (F. altissima), cluster ficus or indian ficus (F. racemosa), and shortleaf ficus (F. citrifolia)1,2. Plants with severe infestations of Singhiella simplex exhibit yellowing of leaves, defoliation, branch dieback, and may be killed. Singhiella simplex may move long distances rapidly through commerce in infested plants.

Worldwide Distribution: Singhiella simplex is native to India, Burma, and China1,2. It was found in Florida in 2007 and had achieved a fairly widespread in distribution in the southern half of the state by 20093, presumably via the nursery industry (it was found in 20+ nurseries)4. It has recently been found in Brazil5.

Official Control: Singhiella simplex is not known to be under official control anywhere in the world8. However, it is listed as one of the whiteflies intercepted at Korean ports6, suggesting that it may be of concern to the Korean government.

California Distribution: In California, infestations of Singhiella simplex have been found on street trees in the environment of Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties.

California Interceptions: Singhiella simplex has not been intercepted at California’s borders, but it has been found in nurseries in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties.

The risk Singhiella simplex (ficus whitefly) would pose to California is evaluated below.

Consequences of Introduction:

1) Climate/Host Interaction: Ficus species are very commonly grown as ornamentals in California and Singhiella simplex is expected to establish wherever they are grown. Ficus whitefly receives a High (3) rating in this category.

Evaluate if the pest would have suitable hosts and climate to establish in California. Score:

– Low (1) Not likely to establish in California; or likely to establish in very limited areas.
– Medium (2) may be able to establish in a larger but limited part of California.
– High (3) likely to establish a widespread distribution in California.

2) Known Pest Host Range: Singhiella simplex is known to attack 10 species in the genus Ficus, not including commercial fig. Ficus whitefly receives a Low (1) rating in this category.

Evaluate the host range of the pest. Score:

– Low (1) has a very limited host range.
– Medium (2) has a moderate host range.
– High (3) has a wide host range.

3) Pest Dispersal Potential: Singhiella simplex can reproduce rapidly. Over an 8 day adult lifespan female ficus whiteflies were found to produce 37.9-46.2 offspring1. An entire life cycle may be completed in less than a month. Although whiteflies are not especially strong fliers, they can be dispersed over longer distances by wind. They may be moved long distances on nursery stock. Ficus whitefly receives a High (3) in this category.

Evaluate the natural and artificial dispersal potential of the pest. Score:

– Low (1) does not have high reproductive or dispersal potential.
– Medium (2) has either high reproductive or dispersal potential.
– High (3) has both high reproduction and dispersal potential.

4) Economic Impact: Singhiella simplex has never been observed to attack commercial fig. However, it may increase the production costs of Ficus spp. nursery stock as growers are likely to treat to control infestations and insure clean nursery stock. Singhiella simplex receives a Low (1) in this category.

Evaluate the economic impact of the pest to California using the criteria below. Score:

A. The pest could lower crop yield.
B. The pest could lower crop value (includes increasing crop production costs).
C. The pest could trigger the loss of markets (includes quarantines).
D. The pest could negatively change normal cultural practices.
E. The pest can vector, or is vectored, by another pestiferous organism.
F. The organism is injurious or poisonous to agriculturally important animals.
G. The organism can interfere with the delivery or supply of water for agricultural uses.

– Low (1) causes 0 or 1 of these impacts.
– Medium (2) causes 2 of these impacts.
– High (3) causes 3 or more of these impacts.

5) Environmental Impact: Singhiella simplex is not likely to lower biodiversity, disrupt natural communities, or change ecosystem processes. There are no threatened or endangered species in California that are likely to be directly affected by the whitefly. The whitefly is not expected to disrupt critical habitats. Ficus whitefly is likely to trigger additional treatment programs by the nursery industry and by residents who find infested plants unsightly. Furthermore, Ficus spp. are commonly grown as ornamentals in California and are likely to be significantly disfigured by infestations of the whitefly. Some homeowners in Florida spend as much as $1000 for annual control of the whitefly7. This may have a significant impact on urban environments as residents replace infested plants. Singhiella simplex receives a High (3) in this category.

Evaluate the environmental impact of the pest on California using the criteria below.

A. The pest could have a significant environmental impact such as lowering biodiversity, disrupting natural communities, or changing ecosystem processes.
B. The pest could directly affect threatened or endangered species.
C. The pest could impact threatened or endangered species by disrupting critical habitats.
D. The pest could trigger additional official or private treatment programs.
E. The pest significantly impacts cultural practices, home/urban gardening or ornamental plantings.

Score the pest for Environmental Impact. Score:

– Low (1) causes none of the above to occur.
– Medium (2) causes one of the above to occur.
– High (3) causes two or more of the above to occur.

Consequences of Introduction to California for Singhiella simplex (ficus whitely): Medium (11)

Add up the total score and include it here.

– Low = 5-8 points
– Medium = 9-12 points
– High = 13-15 points

6) Post Entry Distribution and Survey Information: Singhiella simplex has established a widespread distribution in Southern California. It is known to be established in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties. Ficus whitefly receives a Medium (-2) in this category.

Evaluate the known distribution in California. Only official records identified by a taxonomic expert and supported by voucher specimens deposited in natural history collections should be considered. Pest incursions that have been eradicated, are under eradication, or have been delimited with no further detections should not be included.

– Not established (0) Pest never detected in California, or known only from incursions.
– Low (-1) Pest has a localized distribution in California, or is established in one suitable climate/host area (region).
– Medium (-2) Pest is widespread in California but not fully established in the endangered area, or pest established in two contiguous suitable climate/host areas.
– High (-3) Pest has fully established in the endangered area, or pest is reported in more than two contiguous or non-contiguous suitable climate/host areas.

Final Score:

The final score is the consequences of introduction score minus the post entry distribution and survey information score: Medium (9)


There have not been any surveys for Singhiella simplex outside of southern California and it could have a much wider distribution than is currently known.

Conclusion and Rating Justification:

Singhiella simplex is established in the environment of southern California. There are no known trap or treatment technologies that would lend themselves to effective eradication of this pest. However, the whitefly is expected to have significant environmental consequences to California, especially to homeowners and the urban landscape. Therefore, a B-rating is justified.


1Legaspi, J.C., C. Mannion, D. Amalin, and B.C. Legaspi, Jr. 2011. Life Table Analysis and Development of Singhiella simplex (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) Under Different Constant Temperatures. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 104(3): 451-458.

2Hodges, Greg. The Ficus Whitefly Singhiella simplex (Singh) (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae): A New Exotic Whitefly Found on Ficus Species in South Florida. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Pest Alert.

3Distribution map of Ficus Whitefly in Florida

4Powerpoint presentation by Greg Hodges

5Velasco, G.D.N., R.G. Moura, E. Berti Filho, and Couto. 2011. Evaluation of the infestation of Singhiella simplex (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) on Ficus benjamina in São Paulo city, Brazil. Revista de Agricultura. 86(2): 134-141.;BR2011007660

6Soo-Jung, S., G.A. Evans, and S-M Oh. 2008. A checklist of intercepted whiteflies (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) at the Republic of Korea ports of entry. Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology. 11(1): 37-43.

7Vasquez, D. 2008. Ficus Whitefly attacks homes and wallets. Sun Sentinel.

8 USDA Phytosanitary Certificate Issuance & Tracking System (PCIT) Phytosanitary Export Database (PExD).

Responsible Party:

Jason Leathers, 1220 N Street, Sacramento, CA, 95814, (916) 654-1211,[@]

 Pest Rating: B

Posted by ls