The binomial name of onion thrips, potato thrips, tobacco thrips, or cotton-seedling thrips is Thrips tabaci. This agricultural pest can leave noticeable damages to the onion and other plants and is distributed worldwide. Besides causing damage to plants, thrips can be a vector for different plant viruses. This blog explores the various aspects of this tiny insect, its appearance and lifecycle, damages it can cause to onion plants and how to manage it effectively. Read on!
The loss of global crop production is linked to pests and insects
Invasive pests have been significant threats for farmers for ages. According to a FAO study, as much as 40% of global crop production is lost to pests annually. Plant pests cost the global economy over $220 billion, invasive insects at least $70 billion. They have a long-standing impact on the quality and quantity of overall food production annually.
They can damage plants in several ways, including chewing the leaves, tunnelling into the plant tissues, sucking out plant juice, weakening the stems and leaves through boring of the roots, deforming plants and stems etc., to name a few. They are not just a massive threat to continued agricultural production but can annoy domestic animals, transmit diseases, inflict bites and cause several other issues.
They are aggressive feeders, multiply quickly, spread from one plant to another, and could cause massive agricultural damage if left unchecked. It is a matter of concern that many of these insects and pests are adaptable to changing climatic conditions. That’s why it is essential to keep a close eye on them, regularly watch plants for any instances of infestation, and take proactive measures to control them, including judicious use of effective insecticides.
Onion thrips is one of the common agricultural pests. They are usually found in hot, dry weather during the growing season and could vary in colour - ranging from yellow to black. They lay eggs in leaves, flower petals and the soft parts of stalks. Thrips can leave damage to the onion plants by piercing the latter’s cells of the surface tissue, sucking out their contents. It causes the surrounding tissues to die eventually. Damages to the crops can appear in silver lines, white patches, curling and twisting of leaves. Thrips attack can result in slow crop growth. Major infestation can result in stunted growth and blisters in brown colour. When heavily attacked, the young terminal leaves start showing signs of malformation.
They can also cause purple blotch (Alternaria porri) because fungus can enter into the plant through the wounds caused by feeding. They can carry viruses. In some countries, they have been found to be an essential vector of tomato spotted wilt virus. Simply put, onion thrips can cause severe damage to onion plant growth and development. They can multiply in favourable conditions and must be checked to protect the yield.
Controlling onion thrips
Avoid planting onion plants near wheat, alfalfa, or clover since these plants can carry a good number of thrips. Effectively sanitize the field with proper measures. Ignore imported transplants that may potentially be infested. Besides these and other preventive measures, insecticides help prevent onion thrips.
Insecticides for onion thrips management
Always inspect the plants for signs of infestations, and if traces of thrips are found, control it immediately before further damages are done. Insecticides can be highly effective. Please click here for recommended product solutions to control pests and diseases in onions.
Deva Shakti, for example, is a new generation photostable pyrethroid insecticide used to control a broad spectrum of chewing and sucking insect pests. It can be used for crops including onion, cotton, brinjal, tomato, mango, chickpea etc., to name a few.