Chilli thrips (Scirtothrips dorsalis Hood)

Departments - Under the Microscope

Mild winters have made this pest a major problem.

December 27, 2016

Chilli thrips adults are pale with dark wings.
Andrew Derksen, USDA-APHIS

Brett Alldredge, pest management supervisor at Greenleaf Nursery in Texas, handles pest and disease control for 450 acres of ornamental crops. His biggest problem these days is chilli thrips, followed by mealybugs and scale.

Alldredge says chilli thrips start in April and continue to be a problem through October, peaking in the hot summer months. They attack plants with new growth on the foliage, and deform and at times discolor foliage. Chilli thrips are much smaller than the western flower thrip, so they are very hard to see when you’re scouting.

These small pests are difficult to see when scouting.
Matthew Chappell, University of Georgia,

“Those are a real challenge because they fly in in waves and they attack anything that flushes,” he says. “In cooler weather they aren’t a problem. You just don’t see them. Usually April is early, but with mild winter, you see them.”