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Scouting for Tobacco Thrips and Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus

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When to scout for tobacco thrips and tomato spotted wilt virus

Tobacco thrips are not primary pests in tobacco and are of most significant concern as vectors of Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV). TSWV infections cause the most damage to plants when they occur within the first six weeks following transplant, although symptoms from infections occurring during this time may not develop for a few weeks after infection.

What part of the plant to scout for thrips and TSWV

Tobacco thrips are visible on leaf surfaces in the first three to four weeks following transplant. TSWV symptoms can be highly variable but often begin as leaf lesions. If the infection becomes systemic, the bud may be infected, and the plant often exhibits “classic” bilateral wilting. TSWV infection can confirmed via the NCSU Plant Disease and Insect Clinic.

TSWV infected plant. Photo: Hannah Burrack

TSWV infected plant. Photo: Hannah Burrack

How to scout for thrips and TSWV

Thrips are very small and may require a hand lens or magnifying glass to observe. When the thrips are young, they are yellow, and wingless. However, direct scouting for thrips may not provide an accurate picture of the population. Thrips population models are more effective at determine when thrips generations (or “flights”) may occur.

A magnified picture of a thrips. Photo: Robert M. McPherson, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

A magnified picture of a tobacco thrips. Photo: Robert M. McPherson, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

Thrips and TSWV thresholds

There are no economic thresholds for thrips and TSWV rescue treatments in tobacco, as all management tools are preventive. Preventative management is recommended in locations where TSWV incidence is greater than 10% infection without intervention.

Page Last Updated: 7 years ago
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