Thrips: most common insects
Thrips are the most common insects in almost all plants in South Florida. Western flower thrips and common blossom thrips are vectors for tomato chlorotic spot virus (TCSV). As a consequence, the incidence of TCSV could cause up to 30% of tomato yield loss. Our local growers always face challenges controlling these thrips in their vegetable fields because numerous plant hosts naturally exist including different weeds.
Field day demonstrations
To understand the preferences of various thrips, Dr. D. Seal and his group at UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center (TREC) set up two field trials with companion weeds and different vegetables. For improvement of the pest control, we organized a field day at UF/IFAS TREC on January 25, 2018. One of objectives of this field day is to demonstrate populations of various thrips in different vegetables and weeds. There were total of 45 participants attended this field day including growers, industrial representatives, UF/IFAS faculty, staff, visiting scientists, and graduate students.
Hosts of weed species
In one of field trials, Dr. Seal and his graduate student, Ms. Raphia Khan grow tomato accompanied with different weeds. Through field survey and sampling, they found that Shepperd’s needles has the largest population of thrips among 46 species of weeds there were 1120 thrips per sample, followed by P. bean – 480 (see link for details).
Hosts of vegetable crops
In the other field trial, they intercropped different vegetable crops with tomato. These crops included okra, squash, eggplants, cucumber, pepper, and beans to test the preferences of various thrips. The result showed that melon thrips are the most common species. Tomato plants intercropped with eggplants have the highest population of western flower thrips. Melon thrips on tomato plants are the major one when growing with squash or beans (see link for details).