Chilli Thrips

FACTS, IDENTIFICATION & CONTROL

LATIN NAME

Scirtothrips dorsalis

APPEARANCE

Adult chilli thrips have pale bodies with dark wings and typically are less than 2 mm in length. They usually are pale yellow in color but sometimes are nearly white. Chilli thrips have slender bodies with four wings and eight segmented antennae. 

BEHAVIOR, DIET & HABITS

Chilli thrips can cause serious damage to plants, as they have piercing mouthparts that extract the contents of epidermal cells, leading to necrosis of plant tissue. Chilli thrips attack more than 100 crops, including chili peppers, tea, strawberries, tomatoes and tobacco which can lead to significant crop loss.

They most commonly are found in the southeastern United States, particularly in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas. They are native to southeast Asia, but have been found in places as far away as Europe, Kenya, Madagascar and Venezuela. 

REPRODUCTION

Typically, chilli thrips complete their life cycle in 14 to 20 days and are capable of reproducing both sexually and asexually. Their rapid life stages and movement make them very difficult to detect. A thrip larva emerges from an egg deposited on a host plant then feeds on that plant during its first two instars. It then enters a pre-pupal stage and later a pupal (metamorphosis) stage when it does not feed. Chilli thrips complete their entire life cycle on a single host plant, which causes serious damage and often transmits harmful pathogens. 

SIGNS OF A CHILLI THRIP INFESTATION

Because this pest is so small and hard to detect, it is nearly impossible to identify infested plants early enough to prevent damage. Some symptoms of damage include the silvering of the leaf surface, crop loss, thickening of the leaf, brown secretion on leaves and fruits and grey to black markings on fruits that often form a ring of scarred tissue and fruit distortion. 

MORE INFORMATION

Chilli thrips are extremely difficult to control, as they are small in size, they reproduce and move quickly and they feed on a broad range of host plants. The use of an Integrated Pest Management program is the most effective way to help prevent chilli thrip infestations.

To prevent the introduction of chilli thrips, make sure no material is infested prior to planting. New plants can easily be infested when growing alongside infested plants or when infested plants move between properties.