Common Name(s): Thrips
Pest LocationRow Crop, Vegetable and Fruit
Thrips are slender, cigar-shaped, straw-colored insects about 1/15-inch-long. They have piercing and sucking, cone-shaped mouthparts. Adults have narrow wings fringed with hairs and can drift long distances in the wind.
Habitat & Hosts
Western flower thrips feed on a wide variety of plants including chrysanthemums, gloxinia, impatiens, tomato, vegetables and grasses. Some plants species, varieties and cultivars are more attractive to the thrips than others.
In the thrips life cycle, egg-to-adult development takes about 16 days: Eggs inserted into the plant tissue by the female’s sharp egg-laying tube (ovipositor) hatch in about 6 days. Two larval stages require about 6 days for completion; then, the prepupal and pupal stages take an additional 4 days. The average life span of a mated female is about 35 days, and each female can produce fifty or more eggs. Thrips can reproduce without mating. Mated females produce both males and females; unmated females produce only males.
ManagementIf you live in the State of Texas, contact your local county agent or entomologist for management information. If you live outside of Texas, contact your local extension for management options.
Cultural management. Avoid planting cotton during cool conditions so that young plants will not be affected when plants are most susceptible to thrips damage. Not planting cotton near small grains and onions helps alleviate thrips migration into the field.
Biological control. Many small predators such as predaceous thrips, minute pirate bugs, and spiders feed on thrips. Since thrips enter the field during and soon after plant emergence, these predators are usually not present in high enough numbers to control a thrips infestation. However, these control agents help reduce thrips numbers at the infestation source, such as small grains and weeds, before they migrate into the cotton field.
Chemical control and action threshold. Consider using in-furrow systemic insecticides or seed treatments in areas with a history of frequent, heavy thrips infestations. Where in-furrow or seed treatments have been used, base subsequent applications of foliar insecticides on the action threshold and occurrence of thrips larvae. The appearance of larvae indicates that the preventive insecticide is no longer inhibiting thrips colonization. Research shows that applying foliar sprays after significant thrips damage has occurred does not result in increased yields. Base your decision to apply insecticide on the number of thrips present and the plant development stage.
Suhas Vyavhare, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist David Kerns, Professor, IPM Coordinator and Extension Specialist. ENTO-069. 2017. Thrips. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension