Chilli thrips, an unwelcomed Florida visitor that feeds on up to 250 different host plants, may have met its match in the form of a minute predatory mite.
In trials conducted in greenhouses on bell peppers, University of Florida researchers found the mites consumed enough thrips to reduce populations to less than 1 per leaf. That compares with 70 per leaf in the untreated control plants.
Similar results were obtained in trials with peppers outdoors, says Lance Osborne, a professor with the university's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences in Longwood, Fla.
"This mite has a lot of potential for greenhouses, which is where it's used now," Osborne said in a news release.
The mite, Amblyseius swirskii, is available commercially to manage whiteflies and broad mites.
Because the mite is already approved for use in Florida, growers also can use it against chilli thrips, Osborne says.
But he cautioned that the mite may not be successful on every crop.
Trials with roses outdoors, for example, yielded no benefits."Maybe there is a plant issue—they prefer peppers, but not roses," Osborne says.
For more information on chilli thrips, visit http://mrec.ifas.ufl.edu/lso/thripslinks.htm.