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Datasheet

Frankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 11 October 2017
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Vector of Plant Pest
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Frankliniella occidentalis
  • Preferred Common Name
  • western flower thrips
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Uniramia
  •         Class: Insecta
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Since the 1970s Frankliniella occidentalis has successfully invaded many countries to become one of the most important agricultural pests of ornamental, vegetable and fruit crops globally. Its invasiveness is...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Frankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); adults. The larger, darker individual is a female, the smaller, paler is a male.
TitleAdults
CaptionFrankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); adults. The larger, darker individual is a female, the smaller, paler is a male.
Copyright©W.D.J. Kirk
Frankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); adults. The larger, darker individual is a female, the smaller, paler is a male.
AdultsFrankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); adults. The larger, darker individual is a female, the smaller, paler is a male.©W.D.J. Kirk
Frankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); adult, and nymph. USA.
TitleAdult and nymph
CaptionFrankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); adult, and nymph. USA.
Copyright©Jack T. Reed/Mississippi State University/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Frankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); adult, and nymph. USA.
Adult and nymphFrankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); adult, and nymph. USA.©Jack T. Reed/Mississippi State University/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Frankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); second instar nymph.
TitleNymph
CaptionFrankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); second instar nymph.
Copyright©Whitney Cranshaw/Colorado State University/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Frankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); second instar nymph.
NymphFrankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); second instar nymph.©Whitney Cranshaw/Colorado State University/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Frankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); adult, slide mounted. USA.
TitleAdult
CaptionFrankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); adult, slide mounted. USA.
Copyright©Jack T. Reed/Mississippi State University/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Frankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); adult, slide mounted. USA.
AdultFrankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); adult, slide mounted. USA.©Jack T. Reed/Mississippi State University/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Frankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); adult, showing identifying features. Large postocular setae and with anteroangular setae about equal to anteromarginal setae.
TitleAdult
CaptionFrankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); adult, showing identifying features. Large postocular setae and with anteroangular setae about equal to anteromarginal setae.
Copyright©Stan Diffie/University of Georgia/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Frankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); adult, showing identifying features. Large postocular setae and with anteroangular setae about equal to anteromarginal setae.
AdultFrankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); adult, showing identifying features. Large postocular setae and with anteroangular setae about equal to anteromarginal setae.©Stan Diffie/University of Georgia/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Frankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); two thrips (arrowed) on damaged nectarine leaf. USA
TitleLeaf damage
CaptionFrankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); two thrips (arrowed) on damaged nectarine leaf. USA
Copyright©Carroll E. Younce/USDA Agricultural Research Service/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Frankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); two thrips (arrowed) on damaged nectarine leaf. USA
Leaf damageFrankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); two thrips (arrowed) on damaged nectarine leaf. USA©Carroll E. Younce/USDA Agricultural Research Service/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Frankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); the thrips are barely visible (arrowed) in this image, but the leaf damage on a Verbena spp. is obvious. USA. March 2007.
TitleLeaf damage
CaptionFrankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); the thrips are barely visible (arrowed) in this image, but the leaf damage on a Verbena spp. is obvious. USA. March 2007.
Copyright©Chazz Hesselein/Alabama Cooperative Extension System/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Frankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); the thrips are barely visible (arrowed) in this image, but the leaf damage on a Verbena spp. is obvious. USA. March 2007.
Leaf damageFrankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); the thrips are barely visible (arrowed) in this image, but the leaf damage on a Verbena spp. is obvious. USA. March 2007.©Chazz Hesselein/Alabama Cooperative Extension System/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Frankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); feeding in flower in ornamental greenhouse. Michigan, USA.
TitleFeeding in flower
CaptionFrankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); feeding in flower in ornamental greenhouse. Michigan, USA.
Copyright©David Cappaert/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Frankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); feeding in flower in ornamental greenhouse. Michigan, USA.
Feeding in flowerFrankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); feeding in flower in ornamental greenhouse. Michigan, USA.©David Cappaert/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Frankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); foliar damage to bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) leaf. Single thrips present (arrowed). USA.
TitleLeaf damage
CaptionFrankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); foliar damage to bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) leaf. Single thrips present (arrowed). USA.
Copyright©Whitney Cranshaw/Colorado State University/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Frankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); foliar damage to bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) leaf. Single thrips present (arrowed). USA.
Leaf damageFrankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); foliar damage to bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) leaf. Single thrips present (arrowed). USA.©Whitney Cranshaw/Colorado State University/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Frankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); foliar damage. Single thrips present (arrrowed).  Michigan, USA.
TitleLeaf damage
CaptionFrankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); foliar damage. Single thrips present (arrrowed). Michigan, USA.
Copyright©David Cappaert/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Frankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); foliar damage. Single thrips present (arrrowed).  Michigan, USA.
Leaf damageFrankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); foliar damage. Single thrips present (arrrowed). Michigan, USA.©David Cappaert/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande)

Preferred Common Name

  • western flower thrips

Other Scientific Names

  • Euthrips helianthi Moulton, 1911
  • Euthrips occidentalis Pergande, 1895
  • Euthrips tritici var. californicus Moulton, 1911
  • Frankliniella californica Moulton
  • Frankliniella canadensis Morgan, 1925
  • Frankliniella chrysanthemi Kurosawa, 1941
  • Frankliniella claripennis Morgan, 1925
  • Frankliniella conspicua Moulton, 1936
  • Frankliniella dahliae Moulton, 1948
  • Frankliniella dianthi Moulton, 1948
  • Frankliniella helianthi (Moulton)
  • Frankliniella moultoni Hood
  • Frankliniella nubila Treherne, 1924
  • Frankliniella occidentalis f. brunnescens Priesner, 1932
  • Frankliniella occidentalis f. dubia Priesner, 1932
  • Frankliniella syringae Moulton, 1948
  • Frankliniella trehernei Morgan
  • Frankliniella tritici maculata Priesner, 1925
  • Frankliniella tritici var. moultoni Hood, 1914
  • Frankliniella umbrosa Moulton, 1948
  • Frankliniella venusta Moulton, 1936

International Common Names

  • English: alfalfa thrips
  • Spanish: trips de California; trips occidental de las flores
  • French: thrips californien; thrips de Californie; thrips des petits fruits
  • Chinese: Xi hua jì ma

Local Common Names

  • Germany: kalifornischer Blütenthrips
  • Mexico: trips del maiz

EPPO code

  • FRANOC (Frankliniella occidentalis)

Summary of Invasiveness

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Since the 1970s Frankliniella occidentalis has successfully invaded many countries to become one of the most important agricultural pests of ornamental, vegetable and fruit crops globally. Its invasiveness is largely attributed to the international movement of plant material and insecticide resistance, both of which have combined to foster the rapid spread of the species throughout the world (Kirk and Terry, 2003). Individuals are very small and they reside in concealed places on plants; thus are easily hidden and hard to detect in transported plant material. They reproduce rapidly and are highly polyphagous, breeding on many horticultural crops that are transported around the world. 

F. occidentalis is species no. 177 on the list of A2 pests regulated as quarantine pests in the European Plant Protection Organisation (EPPO) region (version 2005-09). It has now reached many countries, and remains a serious threat to crops in those countries that it has not yet reached.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Uniramia
  •                 Class: Insecta
  •                     Order: Thysanoptera
  •                         Family: Thripidae
  •                             Genus: Frankliniella
  •                                 Species: Frankliniella occidentalis

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Adults in natural populations of this species in western North America exist as a wide range of colour forms. In early spring, and also in montane areas, adult females are commonly almost black in colour, whereas in summer females are primarily yellow with the median area of each abdominal tergite more or less dark. These colour forms often involve differences in body size and proportions, and lengths of setae (Bryan and Smith, 1956). Many of these colour and structural variants were named by early workers as different species, thus Frankliniella moultoni Hood was applied to dark individuals in California, but Frankliniella occidentalis was applied to light ones. Such practices account for most of the 18 names that are now rejected as synonyms (Nakahara, 1997).

Despite being considered as a single morphologically variable species at present, recent molecular studies have revealed the presence of two distinct genetic types of the western flower thrips (Rugman-Jones et al., 2010). This genetic evidence indicates the two forms are distinct enough to be considered as separate species. However, the two forms have not been formally described as species yet. The two types, which have been designated as the greenhouse (G) and lupin (L) strains are sympatric in their native range of California. Both types have been successful invaders although current records indicate that the greenhouse type is much more widely distributed throughout the world. Given this taxonomic uncertainty, the species F. occidentalis is here interpreted in a broad sense as a single variable species. Nevertheless, economic entomologists should be aware that different populations identified under this name can and do exhibit differing biological characteristics, including virus vector ability, thermal tolerances, host plant preferences, fecundity and insecticide resistance.

Description

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Eggs

Opaque, reniform (kidney-shaped) and about 200 µm long; inserted into the epidermis and mesophyll layer of host plant. Eggs may be laid in leaves, flower structures or fruit (Childers and Achor, 1995).

Larvae

There are two larval instars, which are spindle-shaped, and are creamy-white to yellow in colour. The first- and second-instars can be differentiated by examination of the number and placement of small setae on the abdomen. These setal patterns differ between the sexes for each instar, which allows the sexes to be differentiated (Nakahara, 1993). Larvae are mobile, but they tend to reside in concealed places on plants, such as within flowers or developing leaves, or under the calyx of fruits (Agrawal et al., 2000; Hansen et al., 2003).

Pupae

There are two pupal instars, neither of which feeds. Although capable of movement, neither pupal stage moves about actively unless disturbed. Depending on host plant architecture, western flower thrips may drop to the ground to pupate. The first pupal stage, the propupa has short wing buds and the antennae protrude forward from the head. The pupa has wing buds extending more than half-way along the abdomen, and the antennae curve back over the head. Both pupal stages are usually white to cream coloured.

Adult

Usually less than 2 mm long, the adult is slender with narrow, fringed wings. Females have spindle-shaped abdomens, and vary in colour from yellow to brown to nearly black, as described above. The female of the invasive pest strain is typically brownish yellow with dark brown markings medially on the abdomen. The adult male is smaller than the female, with a narrower abdomen, and is usually yellowish white. Females and males are macropterous (i.e. they have fully developed wings). In California, three colour forms of F. occidentalis have been distinguished, pale, intermediate and dark, whose relative abundances differ according to the season and geographic location. In spring, and in montane areas, the dark form predominates, and in this the cuticle of the head and abdomen is blackish brown. It seems likely that this dark form is better able to survive low temperatures, but males are rarely dark. With a good quality 20X hand lens it is possible to see the long setae on the pronotum of adults that are typical of this species, but the structural details by which the genus and species are recognized cannot be seen without a microscope.

Distribution

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F. occidentalis is naturally abundant in many wild flowers throughout western North America from southern California (and presumably Mexico) into Canada. In the late 1970s and 1980s, it spread across the USA and Canada. It reached the Netherlands in 1983 and then spread outwards across Europe (Kirk and Terry, 2003). This sudden explosion remains unexplained but is possibly the result of some undetected genetic change in a population on a crop under intensive cultivation and insecticide treatment (Immaraju et al., 1992). Having become well established in Europe and Israel, it spread to the highlands of eastern Africa and subsequently entered New Zealand in 1992 and Australia in 1993. In Australia it has spread around Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane, but in Western Australia summer temperatures that routinely exceed 40°C may be limiting its spread to the vicinity of Perth. It is present in southern Brazil (Monteiro et al., 1995), and also in the Cameron Highlands of Peninsular Malaysia (Fauziah and Saharan, 1991), and it is becoming more common in tropical lowland countries. In Costa Rica and Colombia, although abundant in screenhouses where chrysanthemums are grown, it remains rare outside on native plants or crops, whereas in Guatemala it has been reported as a pest of field-grown crops. In Florida, USA, it can be abundant in crop fields but becomes progressively less abundant away from crop areas, presumably because of competition from native thrips and predation (Reitz et al., 2006; Paini et al., 2007, 2008; Northfield et al., 2008).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

ChinaWidespreadIntroduced2003 Invasive Zhang et al., 2003; Reitz et al., 2011; EPPO, 2014
-AnhuiPresentEPPO, 2014
-BeijingPresentYou et al., 2007; EPPO, 2014
-ChongqingPresentEPPO, 2014
-FujianPresentEPPO, 2014
-GuangdongPresentEPPO, 2014
-GuangxiPresentEPPO, 2014
-GuizhouPresentEPPO, 2014
-HainanPresentEPPO, 2014
-HebeiPresent, few occurrencesEPPO, 2014
-HenanPresentEPPO, 2014
-HubeiPresentEPPO, 2014
-JiangsuPresentEPPO, 2014
-NingxiaPresentZhang et al., 2004; EPPO, 2014
-ShaanxiPresentEPPO, 2014
-ShandongPresentEPPO, 2014
-SichuanPresentEPPO, 2014
-YunnanPresentWu et al., 2009; EPPO, 2014
-ZhejiangPresentEPPO, 2014
IndiaPresentIntroduced2015 Invasive , 2015; CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014Earlier reports of its establishment are thought to be inaccurate.
-Andhra PradeshAbsent, unreliable recordKulkarni, 2010
-BiharAbsent, unreliable recordCABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-KarnatakaPresent, 2015
IranIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014
IsraelWidespreadIntroduced1987 Invasive Argaman et al., 1989; Nakahara, 1997; EPPO, 2014
JapanPresentIntroduced1990 Invasive Nakahara, 1997; CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-HokkaidoPresentIntroduced1996CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-HonshuPresentIntroduced1990CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-KyushuPresentEPPO, 2014
KazakhstanAbsent, intercepted onlyEPPO, 2014
Korea, Republic ofPresentIntroduced1993 Invasive Nakahara, 1997; Lee et al., 2001; EPPO, 2014
KuwaitPresentIntroduced Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
MalaysiaPresentIntroduced<1993 Invasive Waterhouse, 1993; CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentIntroducedCABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
MyanmarPresentSan San Thwin, 2012Found year-round on Rosa spp. in Htauk kyant, Mingalardon Township, Yangon Division
QatarPresentMirab-balou et al., 2014
SingaporeAbsent, unreliable recordCABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
Sri LankaPresentIntroduced1996 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
ThailandAbsent, unreliable recordEPPO, 2014
TurkeyRestricted distributionIntroduced1993 Invasive Tunç and Göçmen, 1994; EPPO, 2014; Gözel and Gözel, 2014
UzbekistanAbsent, no pest recordEPPO, 2014

Africa

AlgeriaPresentIntroduced<2001 Invasive Kirk and Terry, 2003; EPPO, 2014
EgyptPresentIntroduced2005 Invasive El-Wahab et al., 2011; Wahab et al., 2015
KenyaPresentIntroduced1989 Invasive Nakahara, 1997; IPPC-Secretariat, 2005; EPPO, 2014
MoroccoPresentIntroduced1994 Invasive Kirk and Terry, 2003; EPPO, 2014
NigeriaAbsent, reported but not confirmedCABI/EPPO, 1999
RéunionPresentIntroduced1988 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
South AfricaWidespreadIntroduced1987 Invasive Giliomee, 1989; Nakahara, 1997; EPPO, 2014
Spain
-Canary IslandsPresentIntroduced1988 Invasive Nakahara, 1997; CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
SwazilandPresentIntroduced<1999Nakahara, 1997; CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
TunisiaRestricted distributionIntroduced1991 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; Kirk and Terry, 2003; EPPO, 2014
UgandaPresentEPPO, 2014
ZimbabwePresentIntroduced<1999CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014

North America

CanadaPresentNativeBroadbent et al., 1987; CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014Native in western Canada, but invasive in eastern Canada.
-British ColumbiaPresentNativeCABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014Invasive in eastern regions of Canada; native in western Canada.
-ManitobaPresentIntroduced1989CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-OntarioPresentIntroduced1983 Invasive Broadbent et al., 1987; CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-QuebecPresentIntroduced1986 Invasive Broadbent et al., 1987
MexicoPresentNativeNakahara, 1997; EPPO, 2014
USAWidespreadNativeCABI/EPPO, 1999; Kirk and Terry, 2003; EPPO, 2014Native in western USA, invasive in eastern USA.
-AlabamaPresentIntroduced1981CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-AlaskaPresent1956Alaska Division of Agriculture, 2014
-ArizonaPresentNativeCABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-ArkansasPresentIntroduced1988EPPO, 2014
-CaliforniaPresentNativeCABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-ColoradoPresentNativeCABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-ConnecticutPresentIntroduced1984Kirk and Terry, 2003
-DelawarePresentIntroduced1992Kirk and Terry, 2003
-FloridaPresentIntroduced1982Olson and Funderburk, 1986; CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-GeorgiaPresentIntroduced1980Beshear, 1983; CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-HawaiiPresentIntroducedNakahara, 1997; CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-IdahoPresentNativeCABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-IllinoisPresentIntroduced1984Kirk and Terry, 2003
-IndianaPresentIntroduced1995Kirk and Terry, 2003
-IowaPresentIntroduced1991Matos and Obrycki, 2004
-KansasPresentIntroduced1971Kirk and Terry, 2003Native to western Kansas, but first recorded as a pest elsewhere in 1971.
-KentuckyPresentIntroduced<2002Kirk and Terry, 2003
-LouisianaPresentIntroduced1983CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-MainePresentIntroduced1984CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-MarylandPresentIntroduced1986CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-MassachusettsPresentIntroduced1989Kirk and Terry, 2003
-MichiganPresentIntroduced1984Kirk and Terry, 2003
-MinnesotaPresentIntroduced1986CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-MississippiPresentIntroduced1984CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-MissouriPresentIntroduced1973CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-MontanaPresentNativeKirk and Terry, 2003
-NebraskaPresentIntroduced1983Kirk and Terry, 2003
-NevadaPresentNativeKirk and Terry, 2003
-New JerseyPresentIntroduced1992CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-New MexicoPresentNativeCABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-New YorkPresentIntroduced1986Kirk and Terry, 2003
-North CarolinaPresent1977CABI/EPPO, 1999; Kirk and Terry, 2003; EPPO, 2014
-OhioPresent1985CABI/EPPO, 1999; Kirk and Terry, 2003; EPPO, 2014
-OklahomaPresentNativeCABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-OregonPresentNativeCABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-PennsylvaniaPresentIntroduced1976CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-South CarolinaPresentIntroduced1980CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-South DakotaPresentIntroduced1987Kirk and Terry, 2003
-TennesseePresentIntroduced1986Kirk and Terry, 2003
-TexasPresentNativeCABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-UtahPresentNativeCABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-VermontPresentIntroduced1986Kirk and Terry, 2003
-VirginiaPresentIntroduced1987CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-WashingtonPresentNativeCABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-West VirginiaPresentIntroduced1992CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-WyomingPresentNativeKirk and Terry, 2003

Central America and Caribbean

Costa RicaPresentNakahara, 1997; CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedNakahara, 1997; CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
GuatemalaPresentNakahara, 1997; CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
MartiniquePresent, few occurrencesNakahara, 1997; CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
Puerto RicoPresentNakahara, 1997; CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroduced1993 Invasive Nakahara, 1997; EPPO, 2014
BrazilPresentIntroduced1996 Invasive Nakahara, 1997; CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-GoiasPresentEPPO, 2014
-Minas GeraisPresentEPPO, 2014
-ParanaPresentZawadneak et al., 2008; Monteiro and Souza, 2013
-Rio Grande do SulPresentPinent et al., 2011
-Sao PauloPresent1995CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
ChilePresentIntroduced1995Nakahara, 1997; EPPO, 2014
ColombiaPresentNakahara, 1997; EPPO, 2014
EcuadorPresentNakahara, 1997; CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
French GuianaEradicatedIntroduced1994CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
GuyanaPresentCABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
PeruPresentIntroduced1974Nakahara, 1997; CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
UruguayPresentEPPO, 2014
VenezuelaPresentNakahara, 1997; CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014

Europe

AlbaniaRestricted distributionIntroduced2001 Invasive Çota and Merkuri, 2004; EPPO, 2014
AustriaWidespreadIntroduced1988 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
BelgiumPresentIntroduced1987 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
Bosnia-HercegovinaPresentEPPO, 2014
BulgariaRestricted distributionIntroduced1991 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
CroatiaWidespreadIntroduced1989 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
CyprusWidespreadIntroduced1990 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
Czech RepublicRestricted distributionIntroduced1987 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
DenmarkRestricted distributionIntroduced1985 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
EstoniaRestricted distributionIntroduced1989 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
FinlandWidespreadIntroduced1987 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
FranceRestricted distributionIntroduced1987 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
GermanyRestricted distributionIntroduced1985 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
GreeceRestricted distributionIntroduced1991 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-CretePresentCABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
GuernseyWidespreadEPPO, 2014
HungaryWidespreadIntroduced1989 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
IrelandWidespreadIntroduced1987 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
ItalyWidespreadIntroduced1987 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-SardiniaPresent1988CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-SicilyPresent1988CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
LatviaPresent1997 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
LithuaniaPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced1994 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
MacedoniaPresentIntroduced1988 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
MaltaRestricted distributionIntroduced1991 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
MontenegroPresentIntroduced Invasive Radonjic and Hrncic, 2011; EPPO, 2014
NetherlandsWidespreadIntroduced1983 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
NorwayRestricted distributionIntroduced1986 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
PolandRestricted distributionIntroduced1987 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
PortugalRestricted distributionIntroduced1999 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-AzoresPresentEPPO, 2014
-MadeiraWidespreadEPPO, 2014
RomaniaWidespreadIntroduced1990 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
Russian FederationRestricted distributionIntroduced1980s Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-Central RussiaRestricted distributionCABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-Eastern SiberiaPresent, few occurrencesEPPO, 2014
-Russian Far EastPresent, few occurrencesEPPO, 2014
-Southern RussiaRestricted distributionCABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-Western SiberiaPresent, few occurrencesEPPO, 2014
SerbiaPresentIntroduced1991 Invasive Andjus, 1992; EPPO, 2014
SlovakiaWidespreadIntroduced1990 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
SloveniaRestricted distributionIntroduced1992 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
SpainWidespreadIntroduced1988 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-Balearic IslandsPresentCABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
SwedenWidespreadIntroduced1985 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
SwitzerlandWidespreadIntroduced1987 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
UKWidespreadIntroduced1986 Invasive CABI/EPPO, 1999; Kirk and Terry, 2003; EPPO, 2014
-Channel IslandsRestricted distributionCABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-England and WalesWidespreadCABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-ScotlandWidespreadCABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
UkraineRestricted distributionIntroduced1998 Invasive EPPO, 2014

Oceania

AustraliaRestricted distributionIntroduced1993 Invasive Malipatil et al., 1993; CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-New South WalesPresentMound and Gillespie, 1997; CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-QueenslandPresentMound and Gillespie, 1997; CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-South AustraliaRestricted distributionMound and Gillespie, 1997; EPPO, 2014
-TasmaniaPresentMound and Gillespie, 1997; CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-VictoriaPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced1996CABI/EPPO, 1999; EPPO, 2014
-Western AustraliaRestricted distributionIntroduced1993Malipatil et al., 1993; Mound and Gillespie, 1997; EPPO, 2014
New ZealandPresentIntroduced1934, 1992 Invasive Mound and Walker, 1982; Martin and Workman, 1994; Nakahara, 1997; Rugman-Jones et al., 2010; EPPO, 2014The discovery of F. occidentalis in greenhouses in 1992 probably represents a new introduction to New Zealand.

History of Introduction and Spread

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The worldwide spread of F. occidentalis and causes of its invasiveness have been documented in several review articles (Kirk and Terry, 2003; Morse and Hoddle, 2006; Reitz, 2009; Tommasini and Maini, 1995). Until about 1960, F. occidentalis was known only from the western half of North America, west of about 100° longitude from Alaska to Mexico, and perhaps Central America. An odd exception was the presence of a population on tree lupins in New Zealand, known since 1934, which is assumed to be an early accidental introduction that did not spread to agricultural crops. In contrast, a pesticide-resistant strain was found in New Zealand greenhouses in 1992 (Martin and Workman, 1994). This appears to represent a more recent introduction of the invasive greenhouse strain of F. occidentalis (Rugman-Jones et al., 2010).

Although F. occidentalis has long been a pest in its native California (Bailey, 1933), occasional, accidental importations to glasshouses in the eastern USA on plant material did not establish. However, in the late 1970s there were outbreaks in the eastern USA, in states such as Pennsylvania, Kansas and Missouri, that appear to have established. In the 1970s and 1980s, it spread rapidly across the USA and Canada, both in glasshouses and outdoors in warmer areas, such as on vegetable and cotton in Florida, Georgia and Louisiana.

F. occidentalis was first recorded in Europe in 1983, on glasshouse-grown African violet in the Netherlands. It then spread across Europe and to northern Africa at an average rate of about 229 km per year (Kirk and Terry, 2003). It reached Turkey in 1993. Many of the outbreaks were clearly linked to the movement of horticultural material. It established in glasshouses in northern Europe and also outdoors in southern Europe, where it overwinters successfully. Its initial spread in Europe may have been relatively slow because plant movement was more restricted in Europe before the Single European Market was created in 1992. F. occidentalis reached Israel and South Africa in 1987, Japan in 1990, Australia in 1993 and South Korea in 1994 (Kirk and Terry, 2003). It was first detected in China in 2003 (Zhang et al., 2003).

Habitat

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F. occidentalis is remarkably versatile and opportunistic. Breeding occurs on a wide range of plant species in many different habitats, from lowland to alpine and from humid to arid. This natural versatility pre-adapts the species as a pest. Even the pest strains, which are presumably inbred (Rugman-Jones et al., 2010), reproduce successfully in a wide range of temperatures and humidities under experimental conditions. However, they may not survive cold winters outdoors in northern Europe (McDonald et al., 1997) as F. occidentalis does not undergo developmental or reproductive diapause (Ishida et al., 2003).

Habitat List

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CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial-managed
Buildings Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Cultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Protected agriculture (e.g. glasshouse production) Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural
Arid regions Principal habitat Natural
Deserts Principal habitat Natural
semi-natural/Scrub / shrublands Principal habitat Natural

Hosts/Species Affected

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F. occidentalis is a highly polyphagous species with at least 250 plant species from more than 65 families being listed as 'hosts'. Unfortunately, the term 'host plant' is poorly defined in the literature on thrips. Plant species have sometimes been listed as 'hosts' simply because adults have been collected from them. The concept of 'host plant' is best restricted to those plants on which an insect can breed, and for many of the 250 plants from which F. occidentalis has been recorded there is little or no evidence of successful breeding. However, the association of adults with various plants has economic importance when viruliferous adults feed on susceptible plants. In its native range of the western USA, this thrips species can be found in large numbers on a very wide range of native plants, from lowland herbs to alpine shrubs and forbs. As a pest it is found both outdoors and in glasshouses, and it attacks flowers, fruits and leaves of a wide range of cultivated plants. These include apples, apricots, peaches, nectarines and plums, roses, chrysanthemums, carnations, sweet peas, Gladiolus, Impatiens, Gerbera and Ranunculus, peas, tomatoes, capsicums, cucumbers, melons, strawberries, lucerne, grapes and cotton. In northern Europe it is found particularly on glasshouse crops, such as cucumbers, capsicums, chrysanthemums, Gerbera, roses, Saintpaulia and tomatoes. In southern Europe it is extremely damaging to many field crops, including capsicums, tomatoes, strawberries, table grapes and artichokes, and at least in southern Italy, it has become a dominant member of the thrips fauna in wild flowers. Similarly, in Kenya the species has become a dominant member of the wild thrips fauna near agricultural fields. In contrast, in Australia it has not been found breeding on any native plant species. A further complication in considering its pest status is that in some areas this thrips species is an important predator of plant-feeding mites, such as on cotton in California, and it is then regarded as a beneficial (Trichilo and Leigh, 1986).

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContext
Allium cepa (onion)LiliaceaeMain
Amaranthus palmeri (Palmer amaranth)AmaranthaceaeMain
Arachis hypogaea (groundnut)FabaceaeMain
BegoniaBegoniaceaeMain
Beta vulgaris (beetroot)ChenopodiaceaeMain
Beta vulgaris var. saccharifera (sugarbeet)ChenopodiaceaeMain
Brassica oleracea var. capitata (cabbage)BrassicaceaeMain
Capsicum annuum (bell pepper)SolanaceaeMain
Carthamus tinctorius (safflower)AsteraceaeMain
Chrysanthemum indicum (chrysanthemum)AsteraceaeOther
Chrysanthemum morifolium (chrysanthemum (florists'))AsteraceaeMain
Citrus sinensis (navel orange)RutaceaeMain
Citrus x paradisi (grapefruit)RutaceaeMain
Cucumis melo (melon)CucurbitaceaeMain
Cucumis sativus (cucumber)CucurbitaceaeMain
Cucurbita maxima (giant pumpkin)CucurbitaceaeMain
Cucurbita moschata (pumpkin)CucurbitaceaeOther
Cucurbita pepo (marrow)CucurbitaceaeMain
Cucurbitaceae (cucurbits)CucurbitaceaeMain
CyclamenPrimulaceaeMain
Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus (globe artichoke)AsteraceaeMain
DahliaAsteraceaeMain
Daucus carota (carrot)ApiaceaeMain
Dianthus caryophyllus (carnation)CaryophyllaceaeMain
Euphorbia pulcherrima (poinsettia)EuphorbiaceaeMain
EustomaGentianaceaeMain
Eustoma grandiflorum (Lisianthus (cut flower crop))GentianaceaeOther
Ficus carica (fig)MoraceaeMain
Fragaria ananassa (strawberry)RosaceaeMain
FuchsiaOnagraceaeMain
Geranium (cranesbill)GeraniaceaeMain
Gerbera jamesonii (African daisy)AsteraceaeMain
Gladiolus (sword lily)IridaceaeMain
Gladiolus hybrids (sword lily)IridaceaeMain
Gossypium (cotton)MalvaceaeMain
Gypsophila (baby's breath)CaryophyllaceaeMain
Hibiscus (rosemallows)MalvaceaeMain
Impatiens (balsam)BalsaminaceaeMain
KalanchoeCrassulaceaeMain
Lactuca sativa (lettuce)AsteraceaeMain
Lathyrus odoratus (sweet pea)FabaceaeMain
Leucaena leucocephala (leucaena)FabaceaeMain
Limonium sinuatum (sea pink)PlumbaginaceaeMain
Malus domestica (apple)RosaceaeMain
Medicago sativa (lucerne)FabaceaeMain
Mentha piperita (Peppermint)LamiaceaeMain
Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco)SolanaceaeOther
Orchidaceae (orchids)OrchidaceaeMain
Origanum majorana (sweet marjoram)LamiaceaeMain
Pelargonium (pelargoniums)GeraniaceaeOther
Petroselinum crispum (parsley)ApiaceaeMain
Phaseolus vulgaris (common bean)FabaceaeMain
Pistacia vera (pistachio)AnacardiaceaeOther
Pisum sativum (pea)FabaceaeMain
Prunus armeniaca (apricot)RosaceaeMain
Prunus domestica (plum)RosaceaeMain
Prunus persica (peach)RosaceaeMain
Prunus persica var. nucipersica (nectarine)RosaceaeMain
Prunus salicina (Japanese plum)RosaceaeOther
Purshia tridentata (bitterbrush)RosaceaeMain
Ranunculus (Buttercup)RanunculaceaeMain
Raphanus raphanistrum (wild radish)BrassicaceaeMain
Rhododendron (Azalea)EricaceaeMain
Rosa (roses)RosaceaeMain
Rumex crispus (curled dock)PolygonaceaeMain
Saintpaulia ionantha (African violet)GesneriaceaeMain
Salvia (sage)LamiaceaeMain
Secale cereale (rye)PoaceaeMain
Sinapis arvensis (wild mustard)Main
Sinningia speciosa (gloxinia)GesneriaceaeMain
Solanum lycopersicum (tomato)SolanaceaeMain
Solanum melongena (aubergine)SolanaceaeMain
Solanum tuberosum (potato)SolanaceaeMain
Sonchus (Sowthistle)AsteraceaeMain
Syzygium jambos (rose apple)MyrtaceaeMain
Trifolium (clovers)FabaceaeMain
Triticum aestivum (wheat)PoaceaeMain
Vaccinium (blueberries)EricaceaeMain
Vitis vinifera (grapevine)VitaceaeMain
ZinniaAsteraceaeMain

Growth Stages

Top of page Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Vegetative growing stage

Symptoms

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The symptoms of infestation by F. occidentalis vary widely among the different plants that are attacked. On roses or gerberas with red flowers, or on dark Saintpaulia flowers, feeding damage is readily visible as white streaking. This type of damage is less apparent on white or yellow flowers, and these commonly tolerate very much higher thrips populations with no visible symptoms. Severe infestation leads to deformation of buds if the feeding occurs before these start opening. Capsicums and cucumbers that have been attacked whilst young, show serious distortions as they mature. Leaf damage is variable, but includes silvering due to necrotic plant cells that have been drained of their contents by thrips feeding, malformation due to uneven growth, and a range of spots and other feeding scars. Eggs laid in petal tissue cause a 'pimpling' effect in flowers such as orchids. Egg laying on sensitive fruits such as table grapes, tomatoes and apples leads to the spotting of the skin of the fruit, which reduces the aesthetic value of the fruit. It can also lead to splitting and subsequent entry of fungi. However, the most serious effect of thrips feeding is due to the transmission of tospoviruses into susceptible crops, such as tomatoes, capsicums, lettuce or Impatiens. At least five different tospoviruses are known to be transmitted by western flower thrips and more may well be discovered: Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV), Impatiens necrotic spot virus (INSV), Groundnut ringspot virus (GRSV), Chrysanthemum stem necrosis virus (CSNV) and Tomato chlorotic spot virus (TCSV) (Whitfield et al., 2005). These viruses are acquired by the first-instar or early second-instar larvae when feeding on an infected plant, and are then transmitted only later when these larvae develop into the mobile adults; it is not possible for an adult to acquire and then transmit any of these viruses (Moritz et al., 2004). Virus symptoms vary considerably among plants, ranging from the disastrous wilting and collapse of lettuce plants, through a range of leaf mottling and distortions, to ring-spotting on tomato and capsicum fruits. These virus attacks can lead to the total loss of certain crops (see reviews in Kuo, 1996). F. occidentalis also transmits a carmovirus (Pelargonium flower break virus, PFBV) and may transmit an ilarvirus (Tobacco streak virus, TSV) (Jones, 2005).

List of Symptoms/Signs

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Fruit

  • external feeding

Inflorescence

  • external feeding

Leaves

  • external feeding

Biology and Ecology

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As long as environmental conditions are favourable, F. occidentalis will reproduce continuously, with up to 15 generations in a year being recorded under glass (Bryan and Smith, 1956; Lublinkhof and Foster, 1977). Development and reproductive rates are temperature dependent. The total life cycle from egg to egg has been recorded as 44.1, 22.4, 18.2 and 15 days at 15, 20, 25 and 30°C. Each female lays typically between 20 and 40 eggs during its life. At 15°C, pre-oviposition time is longer (10.4 days) than at higher temperatures of 20 or 30°C (2-4 days). Lifetime reproductive rates of 95.5 hatched eggs/female have been recorded at 20°C (e.g., Lublinkhof and Foster, 1977). However, because of faster development times, greater population growth rates are seen at temperatures of 30oC (Gaum et al., 1994). Short photoperiods do not appear to induce reproductive diapause in glasshouse populations (Brødsgaard, 1994; Ishida et al., 2003).

Adult thrips may enter closed buds, and eggs are laid concealed within such buds in the parenchymatous tissues; eggs are also laid in similar tissues of leaves, flower parts and fruits. Eggs hatch in about 4 days at 27°C, but take 13 days at 15°C. The eggs are probably susceptible to desiccation and subject to high mortality. There is also considerable mortality due to failure of larvae to emerge safely from their egg.

There are two active larval stages and two non-feeding pupal stages. Larvae begin feeding soon after emergence, and moult within 3 days at 27°C (7 days at 15°C). Second-instar larvae are very active, often seeking concealed sites for feeding, and they develop to the propupal stage in about 3 days at 27°C or 12 days at 15°C. When attacked by predators, larvae produce an anal droplet containing an alarm pheromone, which signals conspecifics to disperse (Teerling et al., 1993). At the end of the second larval stage, larvae normally drop to the ground to seek a pupation site. The pupation site varies; most commonly it is in the surface layer of dead leaves beneath a plant, rather than in the soil, or even on the plant itself. The proportion of individuals dropping to the ground depends on plant architecture (Buitenhuis and Shipp, 2008).

The propupa matures rapidly (1 day at 27°C; 4 days at 15°C), but the pupal stage usually takes more than a week before the adult is ready to emerge.

A newly emerged female is relatively quiescent during her first 24 hours, but soon becomes active, particularly at higher temperatures. Females may live about 40 days under laboratory conditions, but can survive as long as 90 days. Males typically live only half as long as females. Females undergo a preoviposition period, the duration of which is temperature dependent (Lublinkhof and Foster, 1977). Once oviposition begins, females will lay eggs throughout adulthood. At 27°C, females lay a mean of 0.66 to 1.63 eggs per day, but the number of eggs each female lays per day can be quite variable (Reitz, 2008). McDonald et al. (1997) have demonstrated that adults and larvae of this species can survive sub-zero temperatures and still reproduce effectively afterwards at higher temperatures.

Larvae and adults feed on the contents of plant cells. They also feed on pollen grains and animal prey, such as eggs of plant-feeding mites, when available. The addition of pollen to the diet speeds up development rate and increases female fecundity by supplying dietary protein (Hulshof et al., 2003). The presence of a species of Erwinia bacterium as a gut symbiont speeds up the developmental rate in the absence of pollen but slows down the developmental rate in the presence of pollen (de Vries et al., 2004).

Adult males form mating aggregations on bright, sunlit objects such as flowers. Females visit the aggregations, mate and then leave. At low densities, male western flower thrips fight with each other by flicking at a rival with the apex of their abdomen, but when more crowded this competitive behaviour is less apparent (Terry and Dyreson, 1996). A male-produced aggregation pheromone has been identified that appears to be involved in mating behaviour (Hamilton et al., 2005). Copulation is not prolonged. Males are haploid, produced from unfertilized eggs, whereas females are diploid and derive from fertilized eggs. Most populations have female biased sex ratios, possibly because males have a shorter adult life, but it has yet to be determined if mated females exert control over the sex of offspring (Terry and Kelly, 1993).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
A - Tropical/Megathermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coolest month > 18°C, > 1500mm precipitation annually
Af - Tropical rainforest climate Tolerated > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
B - Dry (arid and semi-arid) Preferred < 860mm precipitation annually
BW - Desert climate Preferred < 430mm annual precipitation
C - Temperate/Mesothermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coldest month > 0°C and < 18°C, mean warmest month > 10°C
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)
D - Continental/Microthermal climate Tolerated Continental/Microthermal climate (Average temp. of coldest month < 0°C, mean warmest month > 10°C)
Df - Continental climate, wet all year Tolerated Continental climate, wet all year (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, wet all year)
Dw - Continental climate with dry winter Tolerated Continental climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry winters)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
55 50

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 41
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) -14

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Amblyseius barkeri Predator Larvae Ramakers et al., 1989
Amblyseius degenerans Predator Larvae Houten and Stratum, 1995
Amblyseius limonicus Predator Larvae Netherlands
Amblyseius swirskii Predator Larvae not specific Calvo et al., 2010 glasshouse crops
Beauveria bassiana Pathogen Adults/Larvae/Pupae Butt and Brownbridge, 1997
Ceranisus americensis Parasite Larvae Loomans, 2006
Ceranisus lepidotus Parasite Larvae Lacasa et al., 1996
Ceranisus menes Parasite Larvae Loomans, 2006
Dicyphus tamaninii Predator Adults/Larvae Castañé et al., 1996
Geocoris pallens Predator Adults/Larvae Schoenig and Wilson, 1992
Geocoris punctipes Predator Adults/Larvae Reitz et al., 2003 USA Capsicum
Grandjeanella multisetosa Parasite Adults/Larvae Goldarazena et al., 2000
Hypoaspis aculeifer Predator Pupae Premachandra et al., 2003
Hypoaspis miles Predator Pupae Berndt et al., 2004
Lecanicillium lecanii Pathogen Adults/Larvae/Pupae Gouli et al., 2009
Macrolophus caliginosus Predator Adults/Larvae Riudavets and Castañé, 1998
Macrolophus rubi Predator Larvae
Neoseiulus cucumeris Predator Larvae Gillespie, 1989
Neozygites parvispora Pathogen Adults/Larvae Vacante et al., 1994
Orius albidipennis Predator Adults/Larvae Chyzik and Orna Ucko, 2002
Orius insidiosus Predator Adults/Larvae Demirozer et al., 2012; Reitz et al., 2003 USA Capsicum, aubergine
Orius laevigatus Predator Adults/Larvae Sanchez and Lacasa, 2006 Spain Capsicum
Orius majusculus Predator Adults/Larvae Blaeser et al., 2004
Orius niger Predator Adults/Larvae Atakan, 2006 Turkey cotton
Orius tristicolor Predator Adults/Larvae Higgins, 1992 Canada Greenhouse vegetables
Steinernema feltiae Parasite Adults/Larvae/Pupae Buitenhuis and Shipp, 2005
Thripinema nicklewoodii Parasite Lim et al., 2001
Typhlodromips lailae Predator Larvae Steiner et al., 2003
Typhlodromips montdorensis Predator Larvae Steiner and Enkegaard, 2002 Australia strawberry

Notes on Natural Enemies

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Various species of the worldwide anthocorid genus Orius are used in biological control against thrips, and these bugs are important as predators in many natural populations. Sabelis and van Rijn, in Lewis (1997) review the range of Hemiptera and other insects, spiders and mites that have been reported as attacking thrips. Amblyseius swirskii and Neoseiulus cucumeris are two of the most widely used predatory mites in the biological control of F. occidentalis. Control with hymenopterous parasites has been less effective, although the polyphagous eulophid, Ceranisus menes, has been used in several countries with varying levels of success (Loomans et al., 1995). Fungal pathogens and nematodes, such as Beauveria bassiana and Steinernema feltiae, are also being used commercially (Murphy et al., 1988; Buitenhuis and Shipp, 2005). The high level of insecticide resistance shown by F. occidentalis and the withdrawal of many insecticides on safety grounds is driving the search for further natural enemies that can be exploited for biological (Reitz and Funderburk, 2012). Recent research has shown that some native species of thrips can outcompete invasive western flower thrips and thus act to reduce the development of western flower thrips populations (Paini et al., 2008; Demirozer et al., 2012).

Further information on the natural enemies of F. occidentalis may be found in Sabelis and van Rijn (1997).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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The movement of F. occidentalis is probably by human-assisted transport and natural dispersal once established in a new geographic area.

Natural dispersal

The timing of discoveries of F. occidentalis and Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) across the southern USA suggest that it may have naturally dispersed across eastern Texas and several southern states of the USA (Kirk and Terry, 2003). After F. occidentalis became established in the Netherlands, Kirk and Terry (2003) estimated its continued spread within Europe at a rate of 229 km per year.

Accidental introduction

Most invasions of F. occidentalis have been associated with its transport on infested plant material (Frey, 1993; Morse and Hoddle, 2006). It is routinely intercepted in plant shipments (Nickle, 2003; Vierbergen, 1995). Frey (1993) found that 12% of plants imported into Switzerland were infested with F. occidentalis.

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Crop production Yes Yes
Cut flower trade Yes Yes
HitchhikerInadvertently transported in infested plant material. Yes Yes Nickle, 2003; Vierbergen, 1995
HorticultureInadvertently transported in infested plant material. Commonly intercepted on transported plant mate Yes Yes Nickle, 2003; Vierbergen, 1995
Nursery tradeInadvertently transported in infested plant material. Commonly intercepted on transported plant mate Yes Yes Nickle, 2003; Vierbergen, 1995
Self-propelledAdults are capable of flight and long range dispersal on wind currents. Yes Mound, 1983

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
AircraftCommonly infests cut flowers that are shipped by air. Yes Nickle, 2003; Vierbergen, 1995
Plants or parts of plantsCommonly transported locally and over long distances on cut flowers, transplants, ornamental plants. Yes Yes Mound, 1983

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Flowers/Inflorescences/Cones/Calyx adults; eggs; larvae; pupae Yes Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Fruits (inc. pods) adults; eggs; larvae Yes Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Growing medium accompanying plants pupae No Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Leaves adults; eggs; larvae Yes Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants adults; eggs; larvae Yes Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Bark
Bulbs/Tubers/Corms/Rhizomes
Roots
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches
True seeds (inc. grain)
Wood

Wood Packaging

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Wood Packaging not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Loose wood packing material
Non-wood
Processed or treated wood
Solid wood packing material with bark
Solid wood packing material without bark

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Animal/plant collections None
Animal/plant products None
Biodiversity (generally) None
Crop production Negative
Cultural/amenity Negative
Economic/livelihood Negative
Environment (generally) Negative
Fisheries / aquaculture None
Forestry production None
Human health None
Livestock production None
Native fauna None
Native flora None
Rare/protected species None
Tourism None
Trade/international relations None
Transport/travel None

Impact

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F. occidentalis affects commercial plant production in various ways, directly by reducing yield and market quality, whether through feeding damage or by the transmission of virus pathogens, but also indirectly when the mere presence of thrips on a crop is used as a reason for denying it entry to a profitable market.

Systematic national records of crop damage are not kept and growers are reluctant to publicise that they have a pest problem or that they have suffered a large economic loss, so figures for economic impact are hard to obtain. Losses range from total loss of a crop to minor yield reductions, and from serious financial losses as a result of down-grading following superficial damage to fruit to minor reductions in profits through the targeting of less sensitive markets.

In some crops, including rose flowers, strawberries, capsicums and cucumbers, it is the marketable product that is physically attacked by thrips resulting in direct losses due to down-grading. In other crops, attack is more insidious, whether due to leaf damage, or due to the introduction of tospoviruses leading to weaker plants and yield reductions. Sometimes entire crops are lost to virus attacks vectored by thrips, such as Impatiens in glasshouses, and lettuces, capsicums and tomatoes out of doors. The worst attacks are commonly associated with poor crop hygiene, where a grower has failed to recognize the relationship between a susceptible crop and a weed as a source of infection (Cho et al., 1986). Indeed, all too frequently a susceptible crop can be seen newly planted alongside some other crop that is seriously infected but not yet harvested. In contrast, some careful growers mass produce even the most susceptible of crops, such as New Guinea Impatiens, with no losses due to thrips or tospoviruses because their attention to crop hygiene and glasshouse construction is so meticulous.

A vast amount of crop damage has been caused by F. occidentalis since it began to spread in the late 1970s. It is one of the most important insect pests of most glasshouse crops worldwide (Cloyd, 2009) and it is also a major pest of some outdoor crops in warm climates. For example, it is one of the most serious pests of Phaseolus vulgaris in Kenya (Gitonga et al., 2002) and fruiting vegetables in Florida USA (Demirozer et al., 2012; Reitz and Funderburk, 2012).

Losses are usually very high when F. occidentalis first arrives in a country, but go down gradually as growers adjust and new pest management methods are developed. The effects are more serious when thrips populations carry virus. Outbreaks can cause complete crop loss. For example, a grower on the east coast of the USA lost a crop with a wholesale value of US$150,000 after an outbreak of Impatiens necrotic spot virus on Exacum transmitted by F. occidentalis from infected begonias (Daughtrey et al., 1997). A few national estimates of damage have been produced. In the Netherlands, the predicted annual cost to the country of F. occidentalis was estimated to be US$30 million, excluding the effects of Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV), and a further US$19 million from TSWV (Roosjen et al., 1998). This included both crop loss and costs of treatment. In Finland, eradication measures from 1987-1990 cost the government US$0.23 million, which was mainly to compensate growers for crop destruction. Even though F. occidentalis has not been eradicated, it is estimated that the cost of its damage to the industry would have been US$1.3 million per year if the eradication campaign had not taken place (Rautapää, 1992). Worldwide, crop damage from tospoviruses transmitted by F. occidentalis probably exceeds US$1 billion per year (Goldbach and Peters, 1994).

Economic Impact

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There is increased use of insecticides in areas where F. occidentalis has become an agricultural pest. This increased use of insecticides has led to the development of insecticide resistance within populations of F. occidentalis and the disruption of IPM programmes for other pests (Bielza et al., 2008; Demirozer et al., 2012). In addition to the increased costs of production, growers may experience the loss of crop markets and capital due to quarantine requirements.

Environmental Impact

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The overuse of insecticides in attempts to control F. occidentalis reduces the abundance of natural enemies that provide biological control in agroecosystems (Reitz et al., 2003) which can lead to further outbreaks of the pest. The loss of natural enemies also disrupts management programmes for other pests, leading to secondary outbreaks (Morse and Hoddle, 2006).  

Social Impact

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F. occidentalis is a serious pest of many crops. It is regarded as the most important pest of greenhouse-grown ornamental flowers (Cloyd, 2009). Growers of ornamental plants, as well as vegetable and fruit crops, may incur great costs in managing F. occidentalis. Despite efforts to control the pest, direct feeding damage and tospovirus transmission frequently lead to significant crop losses and complete crop failures (Morse and Hoddle, 2006).

Risk and Impact Factors

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Impact mechanisms

  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Herbivory/grazing/browsing
  • Interaction with other invasive species
  • Pest and disease transmission
  • Predation
  • Rapid growth

Impact outcomes

  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Host damage
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts cultural/traditional practices
  • Negatively impacts livelihoods
  • Negatively impacts trade/international relations
  • Reduced amenity values

Invasiveness

  • Abundant in its native range
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Capable of securing and ingesting a wide range of food
  • Gregarious
  • Has a broad native range
  • Has high genetic variability
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Reproduces asexually
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc

Likelihood of entry/control

  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field
  • Difficult/costly to control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally

Uses

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In contrast to the normal pest status of F. occidentalis, it is seen as a beneficial predator of spider mite eggs on cotton in the USA (Wilson et al., 1991). However, it can cause severe damage to seedling cotton (Greenberg et al., 2009).

Uses List

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Environmental

  • Biological control

Detection and Inspection

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The majority of thrips species are so small and cryptic that, except when present in very large numbers, many inspectors and commercial operators may fail to see them. Adults and larvae are able to hide in concealed places on plants such as beneath plant hairs, within tight buds, enclosed in developing leaves, or underneath the calyx of fruits. Eggs are laid concealed within plant tissues. Casual inspection may thus not reveal the presence of thrips, and even insecticide treatment may be ineffective because the chemical fails to contact the hidden thrips. Effective detection methods have yet to be deployed by most quarantine inspection systems, reliance usually being placed on inspection for feeding damage and simple beating to reveal thrips. However, adult and larval thrips can be extracted from plant material within two or three minutes if a sample is placed in a small Tullgren Funnel using turpentine as an irritant rather than light; the living thrips then run down into a glass tube at the bottom of the funnel where they are readily observed and counted.

Infestation levels in glasshouse crops are usually monitored by means of blue or yellow sticky traps. One shade of blue is particularly attractive to flying adult thrips and is widely used for monitoring the species (Brødsgaard, 1989a). Pheromone lures that attract males and females are now available to increase the sensitivity of monitoring at low levels of infestation or in easily damaged crops (Hamilton et al., 2005). Thrips can also be monitored by extracting thrips from flowers and recording their numbers or the percentage occupancy of flowers (Navas et al., 1994; Steiner and Goodwin, 2005). Western flower thrips adults are easily carried into glasshouses by wind, as well as on the clothes or in the hair of working personnel, thus making re-infestation from surrounding weeds a constant probability. Indeed, weed control around a crop, whether inside a glasshouse or on surrounding land, is the first measure to be adopted in any control strategy. Thrips are also easily carried on equipment and containers that have not been properly cleaned, and infestations in sterile laboratories with filtered air are usually due to thrips being carried in on the clothes and hair of workers. Nationally and internationally, F. occidentalis is readily transported to new areas on all types of planting material as well as on cut flowers, both commercial and domestic (Vierbergen, 1995).

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Adults of most of the 159 species now recognized (Nakahara, 1997) in the genus Frankliniella have two pairs of long setae on the anterior margin of the pronotum and two pairs on the posterior angles of the pronotum. All of the species have two complete rows of setae on each forewing (i.e. the setae are regularly spaced along each forewing), and three pairs of setae on the head in association with the ocelli, including one pair in front of the first ocellus. An essential diagnostic character is the presence of a ctenidium laterally on the eighth abdominal tergite; this is a comb-like row of microtrichia that in Frankliniella species always lies just in front of each spiracle (it lies behind the spiracle in members of Thrips genus). A full diagnosis of the genus, and a key to help identify 80 species from Central America and the Caribbean, is given by Mound and Marullo (1996). Species identification in Frankliniella is particularly difficult, and unfortunately, the key to world species by Moulton (1948) is misleading and full of errors, but Nakahara (1997) has listed all the species of this genus, together with their current synonymies. The species F. occidentalis has no unusual distinguishing features, indeed in structure it is one of the most generalised of all the species within the genus. It is most similar to the Central American species, F. panamensis, which differs only in being consistently dark and having a longer and more regular comb on the posterior margin of the eighth tergite. The European flower thrips, F. intonsa, which is also a pest of horticulture in Taiwan, is also closely related, but has shorter setae on the head behind the eyes. An advanced comprehensive key to European and Mediterranean species of terebrantian thrips is given in German by Zur Strassen (2003) and a pictorial key to F. occidentalis and other pest thrips worldwide is given by Mound and Kibby (1998).

Molecular methods have now been developed for identification of individual specimens of F. occidentalis by PCR (Liu, 2004) and even the detection of Tomato spotted wilt virus in individual specimens (Boonham et al., 2002).

Molecular methods for recognition of the tospoviruses transmitted by F. occidentalis are well developed and are available as commercial kits. These are easy to use and can distinguish viruses transmitted by F. occidentalis from other viruses that might also show symptoms in crops infested by F. occidentalis.

Prevention and Control

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Because F. occidentalis breeds so rapidly and virus transmission is so rapid, cultural and biological methods of control should be attempted before turning to the use of pesticides (Stavisky et al., 2002; Reitz et al., 2003; Momol et al., 2004). Chemical control is important and widely practised, but is often constrained by the secretive habits of F. occidentalis, and because populations have been found to develop resistance quickly. A review of chemical methods used in the earlier years of this century is given by Lewis (1997). Since 1990 more than 50 chemicals have been tested against F. occidentalis, and new ones continue to be added to this list. Spinosyn based insecticides have been found to be some of the most effective chemicals, but local overuse of spinosyns has led to resistance development in F. occidentalis populations (Herron and James, 2005; Bielza et al., 2007). Similar results have been observed for other classes of insecticides. For example, MacDonald (1995) demonstrated 30-fold differences in susceptibility to malathion among populations of F. occidentalis in the remarkably small area of the southern half of England. A disturbing practice is mixing insecticides into &apos;cocktails&apos; to obtain short-term control enhancement when one insecticide loses efficacy, because of the added risk of longer term resistance that this brings. The range of formulations of insecticides, also the methods of application, that have been used against this pest are very great, but the most effective growers are now placing greater reliance in IPM strategies and ensuring that, when insecticide use is necessary, growers use appropriate rotations of chemistries to forestall the development of resistance (Demirozer et al., 2012; Reitz and Funderburk, 2012).

The basis of good IPM strategies in covered crops is firstly to produce thrips-free conditions through weed control, screening against the pest, and the production of pest-free mother plants. For many years, some growers created their own pests, notably in Chrysanthemum houses, because older plants were used as mother-plants; the apices of each mature plant were removed, rooted and used as the basis for the next crop, although almost every such plant apex contained one live thrips and its eggs. IPM control on mother plants now involves release of the predatory bugs of the genus Orius, as well as predatory mites of the genus Amblyseius or Neoseiulus.

Currently there is an upsurge in the use of novel insecticides, including soaps and organic products such as extracts of neem trees. One approach has involved the use of UV-blocking films to reduce the flight activity of F. occidentalis (Antignus et al., 1996). Plant breeding to produce strains of crops that are more tolerant to F. occidentalis feeding is also being strongly pursued (reviewed in de Kogel, 1997).

In open field situations, minimizing colonization of the crop by F. occidentalis and fostering development of natural enemy populations has been a successful management approach. UV-reflective mulches disrupt host location by F. occidentalis, and the use of optimal fertility regimes minimizes preference of F. occidentalis for a crop (Brodbeck et al., 2001; Stavisky et al., 2002). Conservation of predators such as Orius insidious can significantly reduce F. occidentalis populations and the incidence of tomato spotted wilt in crops such as capsicum and aubergine (Demirozer et al., 2012).

Post-harvest treatments of commodities can reduce the likelihood of F. occidentalis being transported to countries where it does not yet exist (USDA, 2015). Methyl bromide is still used as a fumigant in certain quarantine situations, but the use of this chemical is restricted by the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Alternative fumigants, including phospine, are being developed as replacements for methyl bromide (Fields and White, 2002).

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Stuart Reitz, Department of Crop and Soil Science, Malheur County Extension, Oregon State University, 710 SW 5th Ave., Ontario, OR 97914, USA. 

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