Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Gynaikothrips ficorum
(Cuban laurel thrips)



Gynaikothrips ficorum (Cuban laurel thrips)


  • Last modified
  • 15 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Gynaikothrips ficorum
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Cuban laurel thrips
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Uniramia
  •         Class: Insecta

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TitleAdult female
CopyrightYu Yan-Fen
Adult femaleYu Yan-Fen
First-instar nymph (after Morrcos, 1944).
TitleFirst-instar nymph
CaptionFirst-instar nymph (after Morrcos, 1944).
CopyrightChen Rui-jin
First-instar nymph (after Morrcos, 1944).
First-instar nymphFirst-instar nymph (after Morrcos, 1944).Chen Rui-jin
TitleSecond-instar nymph
CopyrightYu Yan-Fen
Second-instar nymphYu Yan-Fen
Second-instar nymph (after Morrcos, 1944).
TitleSecond-instar nymph - line drawing
CaptionSecond-instar nymph (after Morrcos, 1944).
CopyrightChen Rui-jin
Second-instar nymph (after Morrcos, 1944).
Second-instar nymph - line drawingSecond-instar nymph (after Morrcos, 1944).Chen Rui-jin
Pseudoprepupa (after Morrcos, 1944).
TitlePrepupa - line drawing
CaptionPseudoprepupa (after Morrcos, 1944).
CopyrightChen Rui-jin
Pseudoprepupa (after Morrcos, 1944).
Prepupa - line drawingPseudoprepupa (after Morrcos, 1944).Chen Rui-jin
Pseudopupa I (after Morrcos, 1944).
TitlePupa I - line drawing
CaptionPseudopupa I (after Morrcos, 1944).
CopyrightChen Rui-jin
Pseudopupa I (after Morrcos, 1944).
Pupa I - line drawingPseudopupa I (after Morrcos, 1944).Chen Rui-jin
Ventral view of a pseudopupa (pupa) of internal parasite Tetrastichus gentilei.

(After Bournier, 1967)
TitleInternal parasite
CaptionVentral view of a pseudopupa (pupa) of internal parasite Tetrastichus gentilei. (After Bournier, 1967)
CopyrightYu Yan-Fen
Ventral view of a pseudopupa (pupa) of internal parasite Tetrastichus gentilei.

(After Bournier, 1967)
Internal parasiteVentral view of a pseudopupa (pupa) of internal parasite Tetrastichus gentilei. (After Bournier, 1967)Yu Yan-Fen
Damage on leaves of Ficus sp. caused by G. ficorum.
TitleSymptoms on leaves
CaptionDamage on leaves of Ficus sp. caused by G. ficorum.
CopyrightYu Yan-Fen
Damage on leaves of Ficus sp. caused by G. ficorum.
Symptoms on leavesDamage on leaves of Ficus sp. caused by G. ficorum.Yu Yan-Fen


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Gynaikothrips ficorum (Marchal, 1908)

Preferred Common Name

  • Cuban laurel thrips

Other Scientific Names

  • Gynaikothrips flavus Ishida, 1931
  • Haplothrips blesai Plata, 1973
  • Leptothrips flavicornis Bagnall, 1909
  • Leptothrips reticulatus Karny, 1912
  • Liothrips bakeri Crawford, 1910
  • Mesothrips bakeri Karny, 1912
  • Mesothrips ficorum (Marchal)
  • Phloeothrips ficorum Marchal, 1908
  • Smerinthothrips bakeri (Crawford)

International Common Names

  • English: laurel thrips
  • Portuguese: lacerdinha

EPPO code

  • GYNAFI (Gynaikothrips ficorum)

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Uniramia
  •                 Class: Insecta
  •                     Order: Thysanoptera
  •                         Family: Phlaeothripidae
  •                             Genus: Gynaikothrips
  •                                 Species: Gynaikothrips ficorum

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page Gynaikothrips ficorum (Marchal, 1908) was first described under the name of Phloeothrips ficorum (Bull. Soc. ent. France, 1908:252). An extensive list of synonyms and references is given by Jacot-Guillarmod and Brothers (1986). Some of the references under G. uzeli may also apply to G. ficorum (see Mound et al., 1996 for further discussion).


Top of page Female

The body is about 2.5 to 2.8 mm long, and is mainly black in colour, with the median antennal segments, fore tibiae, and distal part of mid- and hind tibiae and all tarsi yellow; the forewings are usually clear without dark markings, and the major setae pale in colour.

The head is about 300 µm long, about 1.3 times as long as wide, with the eyes about one third of the head length. The major postocular setae are pointed, but are variable in length and the median dorsal setae are sometimes as long as the postoculars. The antennae are 8-segmented, with one sense cone on segment III and three sense cones on segment IV.

The pronotum is transverse, and the surface bears many lines of sculpture that form characteristic swirls laterally. Of the five pairs of major pronotal setae characteristically found in thrips of the family Phlaeothripidae, usually only the epimeral setae are elongate in this species. The metanotum is weakly reticulate, and the forewings are parallel-sided with about 18 duplicated cilia on the distal posterior margin. The fore tarsus bears a small tooth, but this is sometimes difficult to see in small females.

The abdominal tergite I, the pelta, is triangular with reticulate sculpture. Each abdominal tergite bears two pairs of sigmoid wing-retaining setae, and the tube is longer than the head.


Smaller than the female, with the fore tarsal tooth very small. Tergite IX sub-median pair of setae is shorter than the median pair, in contrast to the female.

Immature Stages

These live in association with the adults in the rolled-leaf galls. They are yellow in colour and typical of this family in structure.


Top of page Species of the genus Gynaikothrips are found naturally from India to the Pacific and Australia. However, G. ficorum has been distributed widely by the horticultural trade on the decorative Ficus microcarpa (Mound et al., 1996).

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


ChinaPresentJacot-Guillarmod and Brothers, 1986; Han, 1996
-FujianPresentHan, 1996
-GuangdongPresentHan, 1996
-GuangxiPresentHan, 1996
-HainanPresentHan, 1996
-HebeiPresentHan, 1996
-Hong KongPresentUK CAB International, 1983
-SichuanPresentHan, 1996
-YunnanPresentHan, 1996
-ZhejiangPresentZhao and Chen, 2008
IndiaPresentJacot-Guillarmod and Brothers, 1986
-MaharashtraPresentUK CAB International, 1983
-Tamil NaduPresentUK CAB International, 1983
IndonesiaPresentJacot-Guillarmod and Brothers, 1986
-JavaPresent, 1960; UK CAB International, 1983
-SumatraPresent, 1960; UK CAB International, 1983
IsraelPresentUK CAB International, 1983; Jacot-Guillarmod and Brothers, 1986
JapanPresentJacot-Guillarmod and Brothers, 1986
MalaysiaPresentJacot-Guillarmod and Brothers, 1986
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentUK CAB International, 1983
SingaporePresentUK CAB International, 1983; Jacot-Guillarmod and Brothers, 1986
Sri LankaPresentUK CAB International, 1983
TaiwanPresentPriesner, 1960; UK CAB International, 1983; Han, 1996
ThailandPresentUK CAB International, 1983; Waterhouse, 1993
VietnamPresentJacot-Guillarmod and Brothers, 1986


AlgeriaPresentUK CAB International, 1983; Jacot-Guillarmod and Brothers, 1986
EgyptPresentUK CAB International, 1983; Jacot-Guillarmod and Brothers, 1986
LibyaPresentUK CAB International, 1983
MoroccoPresentJacot-Guillarmod and Brothers, 1986
-Canary IslandsPresentUK CAB International, 1983
TunisiaPresentJacot-Guillarmod and Brothers, 1986

North America

BermudaPresentUK CAB International, 1983
MexicoPresentUK CAB International, 1983; Jacot-Guillarmod and Brothers, 1986
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-CaliforniaPresentDenmark, 1967; UK CAB International, 1983
-FloridaPresentDenmark, 1967; UK CAB International, 1983
-HawaiiPresentUK CAB International, 1983; Jacot-Guillarmod and Brothers, 1986
-TexasPresentDenmark, 1967

Central America and Caribbean

BarbadosPresentUK CAB International, 1983
Costa RicaPresentMound & Marullo, 1996
CubaPresentDenmark, 1967; Jacot-Guillarmod and Brothers, 1986
DominicaPresentDenmark, 1967
NicaraguaPresentDenmark, 1967
PanamaPresentDenmark, 1967
Puerto RicoPresentDenmark, 1967; UK CAB International, 1983

South America

ArgentinaPresentJacot-Guillarmod and Brothers, 1986
BrazilPresentJacot-Guillarmod and Brothers, 1986
-AmazonasPresentUK CAB International, 1983
-CearaPresentUK CAB International, 1983
-Espirito SantoPresentUK CAB International, 1983
-MaranhaoPresentUK CAB International, 1983
-ParaPresentUK CAB International, 1983
-ParaibaPresentUK CAB International, 1983
-PernambucoPresentUK CAB International, 1983
-Rio de JaneiroPresentUK CAB International, 1983
-Rio Grande do SulPresentUK CAB International, 1983
-Santa CatarinaPresentUK CAB International, 1983
-Sao PauloPresentUK CAB International, 1983
ColombiaPresentDenmark, 1967
EcuadorPresentDenmark, 1967
PeruPresentUK CAB International, 1983; Jacot-Guillarmod and Brothers, 1986
VenezuelaPresentUK CAB International, 1983


Czechoslovakia (former)PresentPelikan, 1991
DenmarkPresentJacot-Guillarmod and Brothers, 1986
FrancePresentJacot-Guillarmod and Brothers, 1986
GermanyPresentzur, 1977
GreecePresentAntonatos et al., 2011
ItalyPresentLaudonia and Viggiani, 2005
MaltaPresentUK CAB International, 1983
NetherlandsPresentMantel et al., 1988
PortugalPresentJacot-Guillarmod and Brothers, 1986
-MadeiraPresentzur, 1977; UK CAB International, 1983
SpainPresentUK CAB International, 1983; Jacot-Guillarmod and Brothers, 1986
UKPresentJacot-Guillarmod and Brothers, 1986


AustraliaPresentMound & Gillespie, 1996
-QueenslandPresentTree and Walter, 2009
GuamPresentDenmark, 1967; Jacot-Guillarmod and Brothers, 1986
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentJacot-Guillarmod and Brothers, 1986
PalauPresentJacot-Guillarmod and Brothers, 1986

Risk of Introduction

Top of page This thrips is readily transported around the world. It is recorded as being introduced to Europe from Cuba and from Florida (Pelikan, 1991; Collins, 1993), and is known to have been transported between towns in China (Hong and Men, 1987). Plant nurseries in Taiwan were observed to have a very high level of infestation on Ficus plants awaiting sale, even on bonsai varieties (Mound et al., 1996).

Habitat List

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Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page G. ficorum breeds almost exclusively on the young leaves of Ficus microcarpa, of which F. nitida and F. retusa are synonyms (Mound et al., 1996), although adults may be collected from a wide range of other plants on which they have alighted casually. Breeding may also occur at times on other species of Ficus, but the evidence for this in the published literature is equivocal.

Growth Stages

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


Top of page Adults and larvae of G. ficorum suck the contents from the cells of young leaves, causing reddish and whitish spots, and inducing the young leaves to fold along the midrib, or to roll inwards from the margin, thus providing a space within which the thrips then breeds. These damaged leaves become progressively hard and brown around the curved surfaces of the galls.

List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Leaves / abnormal forms
Leaves / abnormal leaf fall
Leaves / external feeding
Leaves / leaves rolled or folded
Leaves / necrotic areas

Biology and Ecology

Top of page The colonies of G. ficorum that can be found living within the leaf-roll galls of Ficus microcarpa sometimes comprise several hundreds of individuals. Although the species is common and widespread, there seem to be no reliable studies on the development of the galls, with observations on their speed of development or on whether they are induced by a single adult or by groups of adults. Other species of thrips are commonly found in these galls in South-East Asia, including species of Androthrips, Liothrips and Mesothrips, together with predatory anthocorid bugs (Mound et al., 1996). In other parts of the world, a range of insect species are reported to invade these galls, including anthocorids aphids, aleyrodids, diptera, psocids and lepidopterous larvae, also various arachnids (Morcos, 1944; Tawfik, 1967).

In California, G. ficorum populations within leaf galls reach a maximum during summer, and again during winter (Paine, 1992). New galls were formed from midsummer through to the autumn. Development time from egg to adult ranged from 16 days at 30°C to nearly 50 days at 15°C. Slow rates of leaf expansion in winter and spring presumably limited the successful induction of new galls during this period. Similarly, in Sichuan, southern China, this thrips does not become active until the temperature reaches 18°C in spring or early summer, damage being most severe in mid- to late August when the temperature rises to 30°C, with five to six generations occurring each year (Hong and Men, 1987).

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Adactylidium nicloae Predator Eggs
Chrysoperla carnea Predator
Goetheana shakespearei Parasite Bermuda Ficus
Macrotracheliella nigra Predator Adults/Nymphs
Macrotracheliella thripiformis Predator Hawaii Ficus
Montandoniola moraguesi Predator Adults/Nymphs Bermuda; Hawaii Ficus
Ocyptamus zenia Predator
Orius albidipennis Predator Adults/Nymphs
Orius insidiosus Predator
Orius tristicolor Predator Hawaii Ficus
Pediobius thysanopterus Parasite Nymphs
Termatophyllum insigne Predator Adults/Nymphs
Thripastichus gentilei Parasite Nymphs
Thripsobremia thripivora Predator

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page Lewis (1973) and Jacot-Guillarmod and Brothers (1986) record many natural enemies of G. ficorum. Anthocorid bugs of the genera Orius, Macrotracheliella and Montandoniola seem to be particularly effective predators within the galls (Tawfik, 1968; Tawfik and Ata, 1973; Pericart and Halperin, 1989; Paine, 1992). Chrysopidae such as Chrysoperla have been found to eat adults and larvae in both California and Egypt. Similarly, Eulophid wasps and Pyemotid mites are widely reported as attacking various stages of this thrips (Burks, 1971; Abreu-Rodriguez, 1982).


Top of page The host tree, Ficus microcarpa, is widely planted around the world both for decoration and as a shade tree. For example, it provides shade in the market places of many Latin American towns and villages, lines the streets of cities in southern China, and decorates air-conditioned shopping malls in North America. The thrips sometimes breeds in such large numbers that the adults become a nuisance by flying into people's eyes or irritating their skin (Morcos, 1944; Denmark, 1967; Mumcuoglu and Volman, 1988), or flying into food and drinks. Nurseries producing these trees may suffer problems due to leaf shedding (Hong and Men, 1987; Pelikan, 1991). In former Czechoslovakia, G. ficorum lives only in greenhouses. It is a serious pest on F. microcarpa and closely related varieties with small, soft leaves (Pelikan, 1991).

Detection and Inspection

Top of page Adults and nymphs of laurel thrips are found on damaged leaves, and all stages are found in galls. For inspection, galls, damaged leaves or other part of the host plant with thrips on it are collected, carried to the laboratory in sealed bags, and examined under a magnifying glass.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page G. ficorum induces leaf roll and leaf-fold galls on the young leaves of Ficus microcarpa. It is sometimes reported from other species of Ficus, but many published records are based on misidentifications of either the Ficus species or the thrips species. This thrips lives and breeds within the leaf galls, and it is sometimes accompanied by other insects including other thrips species. From these it can be recognised by the pattern of sculptured lines that form swirls on the pronotum. The species with which it is most commonly found are members of the genus Mesothrips, in which the head is instinctively constricted into a basal neck, and the members of Liothrips, in which the pronotum bears five pairs of long, dark setae.

About 35 species are placed in the genus Gynaikothrips, but many of these cannot be recognised using the published literature. In particular, the common South-East Asian species G. uzeli is frequently confused with G. ficorum, and Mound et al. (1996) suggest that G. ficorum may be an inbred strain that has been distributed by the world-wide horticultural trade in Ficus plants.

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Cultural Control

On the small, shrubby cultivars of Ficus microcarpa, it is standard gardeners' practice to pick and burn all infested leaves, and to prune the bushes to promote the growth of fresh, healthy leaves (Hong and Men, 1967; Loche et al., 1984; Pelikan, 1991). This technique is not possible on trees, however.

Biological Control

The most successful attempts at biological control of this thrips have employed the anthocorid bug Montandoniola moraguesi. This has been used in Hawaii (Denmark, 1967), Sardinia (Loche et al., 1984) and Bermuda (Bermuda Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, 1981).

Chemical Control

As G. ficorum and their eggs hide within leaf galls, systemic insecticides and fumigants should be used.

In Egypt, demeton-S [superseded] was the most effective pesticide for control of G. ficorum, followed by amidithion [superseded], formothion and dimethoate (Soliman et al., 1969). In Sardinia, Italy, both pyrethrins and synthetic pyrethroids (deltamethrin, resmethrin and permethrin) gave effective control (Loche et al., 1984). In the southern states of the USA, container-grown nursery stock and hedges of Ficus microcarpa were treated with a range of insecticides, as sprays or soil-applied granules. Chlorpyrifos, bendiocarb, acephate and permethrin gave good control; chlorpyrifos was the most rapid acting (Reinert, 1983).

Plant spikes containing fertilizer alone or combined with an insecticide (for example aldoxycarb), which have long been available to private householders, have now been developed for use with pot-grown plants in commercial nurseries (Parrella et al., 1986; McConnell and Short, 1986).


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Abreu-Rodriguez E, 1982. Adactylidium sp. (Acarina: Pyemotidae), a new record of a predatory mite of thrips eggs in Puerto Rico. Journal of Agriculture of the University of Puerto Rico, 66(4):310

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