PALM BEACH, Florida. – Take a ride along the ocean in Palm Beach and you’re bound to see beautiful homes and well groomed yards. But you’ll also see something else.
“Look at the health of this hedge; perfect color, it’s fantastic,” said landscaper Alan Stopek as he pointed out ficus benjamina plants. “Yet directly across from it you can see the sooty mold. You can see the discoloration, you can see the thinness…”
The plant killer is a microscopic whitefly known as the ficus whitefly.
Pointing out one hedge Stopek said, “This isn’t wind damage. This is an insect feeding on the leaves and dehydrating the plant.”
Stopek took us on a tour of the once lavish yards he works on.
“We’re talking about not only losing foliage, but this is all dead wood. This is a tragedy, absolute tragedy. Look at this,” he said pointing to the bare shrub. “I mean it’s horrible.”
Horribly expensive too. The damage cost homeowners thousands of dollars.