Barley Barley Crop Icon Brassicas Brassicas Crop Icon Sugar Beet Sugar Beet Carrots Carrots Icon Leeks Leek Icon Maize Maize Icon Oilseed Oilseed Icon Onions Onions Icon Other Cereals Other Cereals Icon O R T Peas And Beans Peas and beans Icon Potatoes Potatoes Icon Salad Crops Salad Crops Icon Soft Fruits Crops Soft Fruits Icon Top Fruits Crops Top Fruits Icon Wheat Crops Wheat Icon Calendar Calendar icon Arrow Next Arrow Previous Close Checkmark

Onion Thrips

Thrips tabaci

Identification

Adult thrips are very small, 0.8-1.2 mm in length, with 2 pairs of wings which when in the resting position extend beyond the end of the elongated body. Under close inspection a longitudinal hairy fringe can be seen on the wing margins. Onion thrips vary in colour from yellowish-grey to dark-grey. The younger nymphs are smaller, paler in colour and without wings. Both the adults and the larvae can be seen crawling across the plants and small specks of black frass can be seen in the feeding areas.

Symptoms

Thrips feed by scraping and piercing the cells on the leaf surface and sucking up the exuded contents. They target the young developing leaves. The first signs of attack are the leaves turning a dull green colour with the leaf surface displaying small whitish flecks (empty air-filled cells reflecting the light) which give an overall streaked silvery appearance to the leaf. This can not only adversely affect photosynthesis but can also help serve as an entry point for pathogens.

Life-cycle

Thrips tabaci reproduce entirely parthenogenetically, males are very rare. Using its ovipositor the female lays 30-80 tiny white eggs (turning a paler yellow as they mature) into small cuts in the host plant tissue. After passing through two larval instars a pupa is formed in the soil from which the adult emerges. Air currents and wind disperse adults passively to new locations. Active flying only takes place over short distances in favourable weather. In warm conditions the entire life-cycle can be completed in 4 weeks (shorter in tropical environments). In field situations there are usually 2 generations a year but in warmer protected environments further generations are possible. Whilst adults only live for 2 weeks in warm conditions they are able to survive for longer in colder weather, this enables both the adults and larvae to overwinter in soil or sheltered/protected locations.

Importance

Despite the scientific and common name onion thrips will feed on a variety of different host plants including brassicas, herbs (chives and mint), leeks, tomatoes and many other species (including bananas and pineapples). Onions suffering from severe thrips pest pressure can produce earlier maturing, smaller bulbs.

Threshold

Onion crops or leeks should be sprayed with a suitable insecticide where populations are starting to build. Onion thrips sampled from leeks and salad onions have recently shown resistance to pyrethroids.

 

Identify Pests

Find out more information and help identify the pests found on your crops.

View now