Several whitefly species infest cotton – sweetpotato whitefly [Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius)] Biotypes A & B, silverleaf whitefly (B. argentifolii Bellows and Perring), bandedwinged whitefly [Trialeurodes abutilonea (Haldeman)], and the greenhouse whitefly [T. vaporariorum Westwood)]. Of these the sweetpotato whitefly Biotype B is the most serious economic pest of cotton. It is found primarily in Arizona and California.
Whiteflies are sucking insects and their feeding removes nutrients from the plant. Feeding by high populations may result in stunting, poor growth, defoliation, boll shed and reduced yields. As they feed, whiteflies produce large quantities of honeydew which, if deposited on fibers, will reduce cotton quality and may interfere with picking, ginning, and spinning. Honeydew also supports the growth of black sooty molds that stain lint, lowering its quality. Both B. tabaci biotypes are efficient vectors of the cotton leaf crumple virus (CLCV), a Geminivirus.