Thrips (Thysanoptera: Thripidae)

Departments - Under the Microscope

Thrips are tiny and tricky to ID, making them one of the most difficult insects to control.

June 4, 2021

Thrips are tiny insects that have four featherlike wings, each consisting of a thick supporting strut with fine hairs on the front and hind edges.

Thrips inflict millions of dollars’ worth of losses annually. Thrips can reduce yield and/or the aesthetic or economic value of plants by causing feeding and egg-laying injury. They also transmit plant-damaging viruses to their hosts.

Species that feed on ornamentals include western flower thrips, Frankliniella occidentalis; greenhouse thrips, Heliothrips haemorrhoidalis; and chilli thrips, Scirtothrips dorsalis Hood.

Researchers from across the globe have sequenced and analyzed the western flower thrips genome

Scientists now have a complete genetic blueprint of the western flower thrips to help them better understand the pest and to find ways to control it.

A peer-reviewed scientific paper about the discovery was published in BMC Biology in October 2020. Dorith Rotenberg, associate professor at North Carolina State University’s Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, is lead author of the paper.

“Entomologists and growers know this very well: Thrips are notorious for building up resistance very quickly,” Rotenberg says. “And so you have to consider developing and using different types of chemicals and integrating alternative control strategies to manage this pest.”

The genome could speed the development of solutions by helping researchers pinpoint molecular-level targets among the insect’s nearly 17,000 genes. Read the paper here:

Sources: University of Georgia Extension; University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources; Alabama Cooperative Extension System