A New Pest in Citrus

Daniel Cooper All In For Citrus Podcast, Pests

Chilli thrips
Photo by Lyle Buss, UF/IFAS

When it comes to talking about citrus bugs, Lauren Diepenbrock, an entomologist with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), is happy to join the conversation. And that’s just what she did in the March episode of the All In For Citrus podcast.

She discussed several key pests that have been problematic for growers in recent years. One of those pests has not traditionally been considered a threat in citrus, but that’s changing in some circumstances. The chilli thrips is showing up in citrus nurseries and in citrus under protective screen (CUPS). Chilli thrips have been a problem in crops like strawberries and blueberries for years, but it is new to citrus.

“Chilli thrips are much smaller than flower thrips, which we are very much accustomed to in citrus,” Diepenbrock said. “More recently, we have seen them moving into nurseries and CUPS structures and causing quite a bit of damage to the fresh foliage of citrus.”

Diepenbrock said she’s not sure why the thrips have taken a liking to citrus, but added they seem to be moving seasonally. There appears to be an influx of the pest with the spring flush. She said it might be that they are just drawn to the fresh foliage and flowers. Chilli thrips are so small that screens will not exclude the pest.

She added that citrus growers could benefit from previous research on controlling chilli thrips in other crops to identify potential chemical controls. Diepenbrock and her colleagues have more research planned on timing applications and which materials will be most effective against the pest.

Don’t miss the March episode of All In For Citrus to learn more about chilli thrips and other pests bugging citrus growers. The podcast is a partnership between UF/IFAS and AgNet Media.

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Frank Giles


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