Alabama Extension Agent: Thrips Are Out of Control

Web AdminAlabama

By Clint Thompson

Thrips pressure is high in southern Alabama. Vegetable producers should be ready to combat the high populations with insecticide applications.

Alabama thrips
Adult western flower thrips. Adult thrips have four slender wings with hairs around one or more edges. The hairs increase the surface area of the wing. (Photo credit: Jack T. Reed, Mississippi State University,

Fortunately, for the region’s farmers, insecticides are available, says Jacob Kelley, Alabama regional Extension agent.

“With this warm weather, thrips are out of control. The last two weeks, the calls about thrips have gone up substantially, and I’ve got them on just about every vegetable plant I’ve got in my (research) trials. With thrips comes all kinds of viruses. We’re seeing a lot of tomato spotted wilt virus on tomatoes and other crops as well,” Kelley said. “There’s a lot of products out there, and I always tell folks to look at the vegetable handbook that we put out in the Southeast. I always tell people to look in there first, but we’re using Spinosad right now, which is labeled as Entrust. Later on, we’re going to be using a product called Beleaf and some other, more translaminar products.

“We can spray on top of the leaf and don’t have to worry about getting inside the canopy as much. It’s going to move from the top of the leaf to the bottom of the leaf where the aphids and the whiteflies and thrips are all hanging out and feeding. Those are the kind of products I like pushing. But they’re newer and really expensive, so they’re kind of cost prohibitive. But I think if more growers would use them, they would like what they saw. And they’re really safe for our pollinators.”

Kelley attributes the spike in thrips infestations to the warmer temperatures experienced during the spring.

“It’s just been a really warm spring, not absolutely hot, but it’s been really warm. I think the thrips have been staying at these smaller populations or maybe medium sized populations, and then all of a sudden, we get the summer heat coming in where we’ve had several days in the 90s down here in Mobile. The population has just exploded,” Kelley said.