A Ficus Pest That Isn’t Whitefly: Weeping Ficus Thrips

Weeping Ficus Thrips. If we look inside a curled leaf, we can see the light-colored eggs and juvenile stages of this insect, as well as some of the dark-colored adults. UF Laura Sanagorski

With all of the recent discussion of Ficus Whitefly, I thought it was important to mention a pest of Ficus that is a little bit different.  This one is Weeping Ficus Thrips (Gynaikothrips uzeli).

HOSTS.  This pest is found on several Ficus species throughout Florida and

Signs of Weeping Ficus Thrips: tightly curled leaves, reddish spots, and small galls. UF Laura Sanagorski

beyond, but it is of most concern on Ficus benjamina.

LIFECYCLE.  This Thrips species is pretty interesting.  Adults feed on younger, tender leaves, which causes them to curl tightly inward.  The curled leaves act as a protective structure in which immature Thrips can develop.  Thrips, like whiteflies, have piercing/sucking mouthparts and cause damage by feeding on a plant’s fluids.

Weeping Ficus Thrips. If we look inside a curled leaf, we can see the light-colored eggs and juvenile stages of this insect, as well as some of the dark-colored adults. UF Laura Sanagorski

TREATMENT. It should be noted that it isn’t always necessary to treat this pest.  There are a lot of natural enemies, such as ladybugs and lacewings, that will help keep populations in check.  If treatment becomes necessary, pruning and disposal of infested new growth may be the most effective management option.  Systemic insecticides in the neonicotinoid family will also provide control.

For further information, please view Dr. Catherine Mannion’s Weeping Fig Thrips publication.

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