Highly adaptive, thrips are found worldwide with a few individuals capable of causing severe damage.

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  • Adults are elongated (1-1.5mm), grey to yellow-brown with fringed wings
  • Eggs are hidden in tissues of leaves, petals and stalks
  • Young thrips larvae (0.5mm in length) are almost transparent-white or yellowish to orange-yellow – second stage larvae are approximately 1mm long
  • Prepupal and pupal stages are distinguished by wing buds and found in upper soil layer and on leaves, flowers and in other sheltered spots
  • Most common and harmful species are onion thrips (Thrips tabaci) and western flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis)
  • Due to thigmotactic behaviour and cryptic tendencies, thrips can be difficult to control with contact-acting agrochemicals. Preventative use of predators is the most effective way to control thrips

Life cycle

  • Six development stages – egg, 2 larval stages, prepupa, pupa and adult
  • At high temperatures females lay up to 200 eggs
  • Eggs hatch within a few days – mobile larvae immediately start feeding
  • After second instar – larvae fall to the ground to pupate
  • Egg to adult takes about 20 days at 20 °C/68 °F and 10 days at 30 °C/86 °F.
  • Development stops above 35°C/95°F and below 10°C/50°F
  • Develops better on pollen-bearing crops – such as sweet pepper

Damage caused

  • A few individuals can cause severe damage – sucking plant cell fluids
  • Empty cells fill with air – appearing silvery with dark spots (frass)
  • Different symptoms depending on crop – cause deformed fruits on young cucumber plants 
  • Virus vector – can spread several important viruses such as TSWV


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