T. vaporariorum probably has the most comprehensive host range of all insect pests. It includes about 800 species. Besides vegetables, the most threatened crops in glasshouses are ornamentals. T. vaporariorum originates from Central America, but is nowadays found worldwide.
The adults live about 3-6 weeks, during which time each female may lay several hundred eggs. Reproduction is almost always parthenogenetic. Under favorable conditions, the whole life cycle can be completed in 3-4 weeks.
The nymphs and adults of whitefly suck plant sap from the phloem. Due to their often very large numbers (2,000 individuals and more per leaf are not uncommon) the loss of nutrients can lead to growth deformation, yield reduction, wilting of leaves, and in extreme cases the death of the plant.