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Onion Thrips

Thrips tabaci

Onion Thrips, Cotton Seedling Thrips, Potato Thrips, Tobacco Thrips

A bouquet of flowers
Onion thrips are a tiny, oblong insect with feather-like wings. Throughout the life-cycle, onion thrips target the leaves of onion plants. They feed by sucking the liquid from plant tissue, and by doing so can spread nasty diseases. Commercial onion farms are most at risk of significant losses in yield. Infestations are less likely in gardens, but still possible nonetheless.
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Traits

Heavy infestations can impede plant growth.

Appearance

Adults: They range from 0.8 - 1.2mm. Colour-wise, these insects can appear yellowish to dark grey. Nymphs: The nymphs look identical to the adults; however, are smaller in size and lack wings. Eggs: They are so tiny, they're almost impossible to see with the naked eye.

Symptoms

New growth is stunted of dies back. Flower discolouration. Loss of colour in leaves. Twisting and distortion of new growth. Foliage may darken and wilt.

Activity

Nocturnal

Personality

Order

Thysanoptera

Family

Thripidae

Metamorphosis

Incomplete

Distribution

Worldwide

Biological treatment

Attracting predatory insects such as lacewing can help control thrips in your garden. Provide a refuge for natural garden enemies by incorporating strips of wildflowers or native grasses. Likewise, hanging baskets, climbing plants and log piles make great hiding spots for spiders, predatory bugs and centipedes. Biocontrol is not recommended for commercial growers that may use chemicals to eradicate pests.

Chemical treatment

Organic insecticides are suggested if you have noticed significant dulling in leaves before late summer.

Attracts

A collection of different coloured Onions - some sliced into rings -  sitting on a table

Onion

Allium cepa

Welsh Onion

Allium fistulosum

Garlic

Allium sativum

A close up of the white roots of a bunch of green and white leeks.

Leek

Allium porrum

Repels

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