Tiny but Destructive: UGA Entomologist Discusses Thrips Research

Clint ThompsonGeorgia, Pests

By Clint Thompson

Thrips management is an annual challenge for specialty crop producers. One University of Georgia Extension entomologist is hopeful a new insecticide will be registered in the fall to help manage the tiny but destructive pest.

Stormy Sparks

Stormy Sparks, University of Georgia (UGA) Cooperative Extension vegetable entomologist, talked about his latest research pertaining to thrips management.

“We do something with thrips every year just to monitor what’s working and looking at new products. We’re always looking for something new with thrips,” Sparks said. “Our primary product for thrips is Radiant. It does a pretty good job of controlling thrips. You can use Lannate, but it knocks them down, and they come right back. If you’re almost done, you can get by with a Lannate, but for the most part, Radiant is our major product. It probably gives 80% to 85% control. That’s the best way we can get, I mean that’s not great, but that’s the best we’ve got. That’s what we always compare new products to.

“If we lose Radiant, we would be in a lot of trouble.”

Syngenta Product

Sparks said he has been researching a new product from Syngenta on the UGA Tifton Campus. It is comparable to Radiant, which is why Sparks hopes it will be available for commercial use soon.

Thrips are the major pest for onion producers, but they can also transmit tomato spotted wilt virus in peppers and tomatoes.

“The big thing in fruits and vegetables, they can scar the fruit. It doesn’t hurt the size or anything like that. If it gets damaged early, it can cause some misshapen stuff, but it’s unmarketable,” Sparks said. “If they get into a crop really early, transplants, with high populations, they can cause abnormal growth. They can stunt plants, delay harvests, that type of thing.”