Whiteflies on Gardenia

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Sooty mold on gardenia leaves is most likely a result of whitefly infestation, in all likelihood the citrus whitefly. The images below were taken on 3/26/21 from a sample collected near Havelock, NC. Be sure to inspect your gardenias now for both the sooty mold and the presence of the insects.
Sooty mold on the upper leaf surfaces

Sooty mold on the upper leaf surfaces.

Leaf underside

Numerous small, flattened, yellow/green structures are seen on the leaf underside; these are the whitefly nymphs.

Nymphal stage

Close up; a nymphal stage, typical of the 3rd instar stage. Only one more stage to go (fourth instar) before adulthood.