Thrips Biology and Management
Thrips (fhysanoptera) are very small insects, widespread throughout the world with a preponderance of tropical species, many temperate ones, and even a few living in arctic regions. Of the approximately 5,000 species so far identified, only a few hundred are crop pests, causing serious damage or transmitting diseases to growing crops and harvestable produce in most countries. Their fringed wings confer a natural ability to disperse widely, blown by the wind. Their minute size and cryptic behavior make them difficult to detect either in the field or in fresh vegetation transported during international trade of vegetables, fruit and ornamental flowers. Many species have now spread from their original natural habitats and hosts to favorable new environments where they often reproduce rapidly to develop intense damaging infestations that are costly to control. Over the past decade there have been several spectacular examples of this. The western flower thrips has expanded its range from the North American continent to Europe, Australia and South Africa. Thrips palmi has spread from its presumed origin, the island of Sumatra, to the coast of Florida, and threatens to extend its distribution throughout North and South America. Pear thrips, a known orchard pest of Europe and the western United States and Canada has recently become a major defoliator of hardwood trees in Vermont and the neighboring states. Local outbreaks of other species are also becoming problems in field and glasshouse crops as the effectiveness of insecticides against them decline.