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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: BIOLOGICALLY BASED TECHNIQUES TO LIMIT THE DISPERSAL OF INVASIVE PESTS Title: Biology and ecology of the Western Flower Thrips. The making of a pest

Author
item Reitz, Stuart

Submitted to: Florida Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 16, 2008
Publication Date: January 1, 2009
Citation: Reitz, S.R. 2009. Biology and ecology of the Western Flower Thrips. The making of a pest. Florida Entomologist. 92:7-13.

Interpretive Summary: In the past 30 years, the western flower thrips Frankliniella occidentalis has become one of the most important agricultural pests worldwide. Certain biological attributes of this insect predispose it to be a direct pest across a wide range of crops. In addition to the direct damage it can cause, this species efficiently transmits Tomato spotted wilt virus and other Tospoviruses to crops. Scientists at the USDA, ARS, Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology reviewed biological and ecological traits of the western flower thrips that have enabled it to become a significant pest and make it so difficult to manage. Among these important traits of the western flower thrips’ are its polyphagy and tendency to reside and feed in concealed areas of flowers and fruits. Consequently, large populations can develop and disperse into a wide range of crops. The larvae and adults feed in a similar manner and can share the same host plant resources. The relatively short generation time and ability of females to produces sons by parthenogenesis also contribute to the pest status of this species. These life history traits interact in complex ways to make the western flower thrips one of the most significant and difficult to manage pests in the world.

Technical Abstract: In the past 30 years, the western flower thrips Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande) (Thysanoptera: Thripidae) has become one of the most important agricultural pests worldwide. Certain biological attributes of this insect predispose it to be a direct pest across a wide range of crops. In addition to the direct damage it can cause, this species is an efficient vector of Tomato spotted wilt virus and other Tospoviruses. This review addresses questions regarding the biological and ecological attributes of the western flower thrips that have enabled it to become a significant pest and make it such a difficult insect to manage. Among these important life history traits are the western flower thrips’ polyphagy and tendency to reside and feed in concealed areas of flowers and fruits. Consequently, large populations can develop and disperse into a wide range of crops. The larvae and adults feed in a similar manner and can share the same host plant resources. The relatively short generation time and haplodiploid sex determination also contribute to the pest status of this species. These life history traits interact in complex ways to make the western flower thrips one of the most significant and difficult to manage pests in the world.

Last Modified: 12/28/2014
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