Saturday, March 03, 2012

Pest of the month: Cuban Laurel Thrips

Some of my fig trees have a problem. Every new leaf they have gets red dots and curls-up (Fig. A). On close examination of the foliage I noticed small black insects (Fig. B), which tend to hide inside curled leaves. After examining these insects under the microscope they turned out to be Cuban Laurel Thrips Gynaikothrips ficorum (Fig. C, D). In Australia this species causes leaf roll on Ficus microcarpa and F. retusa, however when infestations get out of hand it can infect other figs such as F. benjamina and even Citrus species.
I control them by cutting off all the curled leaves, putting them in a plastic bag and placing the bag in the freezer for a couple of days, but this is only half of the job. Right after that, I spray the plants with a systemic insecticide. Insecticide spray doesn’t kill thrips hiding inside curled leaves and this is why they have to be removed and frozen.

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