Correct thrips identification key to targeting control

8/07/2021 - Correctly identifying the thrips species in a crop plays a key role in selecting the right IPM strategy for successful control, says Biobest UK’s Sales Manager - Tim Crittenden.

Thrips are one of the most economically important pests of agriculture worldwide. While there are over 6000 species worldwide, only around 1% damage crops.

Three key thrips species in UK

According to Tim there are three key species growers should remain vigilant for in the UK when scouting and monitoring crops; Rose Thrips - Thrips fuscipennis; Western Flower Thrips (WFT) - Frankliniella occidentalis; and Poinsettia Thrips - Echinothrips americanus.

“Small slender insects with fringed wings, thrips are notoriously difficult to scout at an early stage – only when the pest is well established is the damage is easy to find,” he says. “We therefore recommend deploying blue sticky traps for monitoring - the pest is particularly attracted to blue. Once caught on the trap, it is important to correctly identify the species - as this affects the choice of controls; this can mean sending a sample away.”

Wide range of tools
Biobest offers a wide range of biological controls to combat thrips – predatory mites such as Amblyseius-System, Swirskii-System and Orius-System as well as entomopathogenic beneficial nematodes such as Steinernema-System; each is tailored to control the pest on different parts of the plant.
“Some thrips species pupate on the soil or glasshouse floor, others are predominantly found in flowers,” explains Tim.

“For example, different stages of the WFT lifecycle are found in the flowers, leaves and soil. As such, all our available beneficials controls are potentially relevant when devising a successful control strategy; Hypoaspis-System for targeting WFT pupae; Swirskii-System for controlling larvae; and Orius-System for all larval and adult stages.

“However, for Poinsettia Thrips, which are predominantly found only in and around the leaves, the soil-dwelling mite Hypoaspis miles is not applicable. For this Thrips species the control strategy needs to focus around Swirskii-System and the entomopathogenic nematodes – Steinernema-System applied to foliage in the evening.”

He goes on to say; “as well as WFT, strawberry crops are also prone to Rose Thrips - a species predominantly found in flowers. As most of the Rose Thrips in the flowers are adults, the control strategy relies on the predatory bug - Orius-System.”

Expert identification recommended

“WFT and Rose Thrips in particular look very similar,” warns Tim. “Identification relies on microscopic features, such as antennal segmentation or the number of hairs and it is often better left to an expert.

“An appropriate, correctly targeted control strategy can then be implemented ensuring greater success.”

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