Management of the Western Flower Thrips (Thysanoptera: Thripidae) in Fruiting Vegetables

  • Joe Funderburk


Feeding by the western flower thrips, Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande), causes damage to the fruits of vegetables, and the species is the key vector of Tomato spotted wilt virus. Frankliniella tritici (Fitch) and Frankliniella bispinosa (Morgan) are not pests of fruiting vegetables. Both species compete with F. occidentalis. Effective management of F. occidentalis in pepper integrates conservation of natural populations of the predator, Orius insidiosus (Say), with the use of reduced-risk insecticides such as spinetoram for the control of western flower thrips and other pests. Naturally occurring O. insidiosus are very effective predators and their effectiveness is predictable based on the number of the predator relative to the number of thrips prey. Populations of F. occidentalis resurge when natural enemies and competing thrips are killed. Some insecticides especially pyrethroids have beneficial effects on the development and reproduction of F. occidentalis. The predator O. insidiosus does not prefer tomato, and numbers remain too low in fields to suppress thrips. Tomato growers primarily rely on the use of ultra-violet reflective mulch combined, if needed, with the use of effective insecticides. Additional management efforts are needed in the future to manage F. occidentalis and other difficult pests in space and time. Management of the pepper weevil (Anthonomus eugenii Cano) is proving a challenge to pepper growers in central and southern Florida trying at the same time to manage F. occidentalis. Growers need to emphasize sanitation and other cultural tactics over the use of broad-spectrum insecticides that kill O. insidiosus and induce F. occidentalis in other ways. The identification of thrips in scouting programs also is critical as the use of broad-spectrum insecticides against populations of the non-pest flower thrips is inducing F. occidentalis to pest status.

View this article in BioOne
Literature Review Articles