Thrips travel from plant to plant by crawling or flying. They also can be blown by heavy winds or relocated when flowers and vegetables are cut and moved during a harvest. An example would be when South African citrus thrips were documented for the first time in Brisbane, Australia. It was speculated that they were brought into the area via shipments of fruit from other locations.

Thrip Illustration
Thrip Illustration

In this previously unaffected area, thrips were found feeding on the succulent Crassulaceae, which was never before victim to thrips infestations. Although South African citrus thrips are known to infest and ruin citrus crops, they had not yet been found on citrus crops in Brisbane.

South African citrus thrips are yellow-orange in color. Like other thrips species, they are extremely small, measuring approximately 1 mm in length. They are most active during hot and dry seasons and prefer soft leaves and young or immature fruits.

Thrips are considered major agricultural pests. They feed by piercing the skin of fruits and vegetables, then sucking out their nutritional contents. This process causes damage to fruits and vegetables. Thrips also may transfer viruses from plant to plant, which causes even greater damage than their feeding habits. Because their population grows steadily and rapidly, an infestation is extremely difficult to control.