Hercinothrips femoralis

Hercinothrips femoralis (Reuter)

Common name: Banded greenhouse thrips, sugar beet thrips.

Taxonomic placing: Insecta, Hemimetabola, Thysanoptera, Terebrantia, Thripidae.

Geographical distribution: Most tropical and subtropical countries, in other regions in glasshouses. Distribution Maps of Plant Pests, 1979, Map # 402.

Host plants: Highly polyphagous.

Morphology: Adult body about 1.5 mm in length, mostly dark brown, with dark stripes across the forewings. The head, thorax, posterior abdominal segment and legs are yellow. The head is ornamented with reticulations. The larvae are pale-yellow with dark eyes.

Life history: A generation may be completed in 3-4 weeks at 25ºC and they live for 5-8 weeks. In tropical and subtropical regions all thrips stages may be found on host plants and generations are continuous the year around. In cooler countries the pest overwinters as adult. It aggregates in the shaded parts of trees, in hidden sites, often between leaf sheaths and stem. The pest usually reproduces by thelytoky, but a few males are often found. In the laboratory it can be reared on sugar beet leaf disks. .

Economic importance: A serious pest of many crops, including banana, citrus, beans, papaya, sugar beets, some ornamentals and others. Feeding induces the appearance of silvery spots on the fruits, which later turn brown, reducing market value. Damaged foliage becomes silvery, disfigured by the pest’s pellets appearing as small black spots and later turning brown and withering. When feeding on flowers, petals become flecked and deformed and buds may fail to open. On banana the thrips causes the fruit’s skin to turn silvery and then smoky-reddish, making it unmarketable. In addition, H. femoralis mechanically transmits a bacterial disease of beans.


Chemical control: Organophosphates and pyrethroids have been used for control.

Biological control: Only a few natural enemies of this pest have been found. Species of the anthocorid predator Orius were recorded in several regions. Foliar applications of entomopathogenic nematodes resulted in approximately 30-50 % mortality when tried at 25°C.


Ben-Dov, Y., Klein, M. and Weizman, Z. 1986. Preliminary observations on the life history and control of the banana pest Hercinothrips femoralis (Reuter) (Thysanoptera: Thripidae) in Israel. Hassadeh 67: 284-286 (in Hebrew with an English abstract).

Buchanan, D. 1932. A bacterial disease of beans transmitted by Heliothrips femoralis Reut. Journal of Economic Entomology 25: 49-53.

Lacasa, A. and Martinez, M.a C, 1988: Notas sobre la biografía de Hercinothrips Femoralis (Reuter) (Thys.: Thripidae), potencial plaga en las plantas ornamentales. Boletín de Sanidad Vegetal Plagas 14: 67-75.

Laughlin, R. 1971. A culture method for Hercinothrips femoralis (Reuter) (Thysanoptera). Journal of the Australian Entomological Society 10: 301–303.

Oetting, R.D. and Beshear, R.J. 1980. Host selection and control of the banded greenhouse thrips on ornamentals. Journal of the Georgian Entomology Society 15: 475-479.

Roditakis, E., Mound, L.A. and Roditakis, N.E. 2006. First record in Crete of Hercinothrips femoralis in greenhouse banana plantations. Phytoparasitica 34: 488–490.

Trdan, S., Kužnik, L. and Vidrih, M. 2007. First results concerning the efficacy of entomopathogenic nema¬todes against Hercinothrips femoralis (Reuter). Acta Agriculturae Slovenica 89: 5–13.

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