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Invasive pepper thrips could become a major pain for growers in Florida, US

Updated Apr 1, 2023
Don’t look now, but another invasive pest is starting to make a name for itself in Florida. Thrips parvispinus — commonly known as pepper thrips — was first detected in Florida in 2020 but has since spread significantly across the state. What once was isolated to greenhouses now has begun to harm a wide range of plants including those in residential landscapes.
The tiny insects fly and hop from plant to plant, rasping the plant with their mouth parts and sucking the sap. Feeding on the plant restricts the plant’s growth and reduces crop yields. Researchers don’t know of any viruses this species transmits, but often, thrips can transmit viruses between plants, killing the plants. “In order to minimize any kind of negative impacts we started warning people right away that this pest had made its way to Florida,” says Lance Osborne, UF/IFAS Entomologist at the Mid-Florida Research and Education Center (MREC). “We better be careful. This insect is notorious for damaging peppers around the world but now it has moved from the greenhouse to the environment and has established itself in several areas around the state.” The pest has been detected on a wide variety of plants including 43 species from 19 plant families including fiber crops, vegetables, and ornamental plants. In November, a South Florida grower lost an entire pepper crop to the pest ...
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