Two natural enemies of the ash whitefly have been found here in Oregon, according to a new report by the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Entomologists hope tiny wasps and lady beetles will control populations of the invasive pest within the next year or two.

The tiny wasp, Encarsia inaron, parasitizes the ash whitefly by developing entirely inside the pest's body. The wasp emerges from the whitefly, killing the host. The lady beetle, known as the whitefly predator, feeds directly on the pest. Encarsia inaron natural enemy of Ash Whitefly

Despite the good news of identifying the two species of good insects, reports of ash whitefly populations continue to come into ODA from Portland and its suburbs, as well as Salem, Corvallis, and even as far away as Klamath Falls. It is normal for predators to lag behind populations of the prey. The ash whitefly in Oregon has a head start, but the two natural enemies are expected to catch up. 

"[G]iven the level of parasitization we are seeing with the wasp and the fact that we are finding the lady beetles fairly easily, we expect the whitefly numbers will be quite a bit less next year," ODA entomologist Jim LaBonte said.

In the meantime, pesticides are not the answer to controlling populations of ash whitefly. The natural enemies are even more vulnerable to pesticides than the pests, according to LaBonte, who asked Oregonians to be patient and let nature take its course. 

Read more: Controlling the ash whitefly naturally in Oregon