Scirtothrips dorsalis

From Bugwoodwiki

Authors: Espinosa, A. and A.C. Hodges Unversity of Florida

Hexapoda (including Insecta)
S. dorsalis
Scientific Name
Scirtothrips dorsalis
Hood, 1919
Common Names
chilli thrips

Introduction and Distribution:

Chilli thrips may also be known as Castor, Berry, Assam and Yellow Tea Thrips.

Old World Distribution:

Japan, China, India, Pakistan, Taiwan, Korea, Thailand, Africa, Australia

New World Reports:

  • Hawaii
  • Intercepted, port of Miami, Florida, 2003
  • St. Lucia and St. Vincent were determined to be the points of origin for interception
  • Subsequent to the initial finds, it has been detected in the following Caribbean countries and/or U.S. Territories: Barbados, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Tobago, and Trinidad
  • Established populations first reported in the continental U.S., during 2005, Palm Beach County, Florida
  • Follow-up surveys of chilli thrips in Florida confirm detections throughout central and south Florida counties
  • Detections in Texas and Georgia have also occurred


Cut flowers, fruits and vegetables are believed to be the primary source of introduction for chilli thrips.

Chilli thrips have a wide host range of over 40 different families and 150 host plant species that include bananas, beans, chrysanthemums, citrus, corn, cotton, cocoa, eggplant, ficus, grape, grasses, holly, jasmine, kiwi, litchi, longan, mango, onion, peach, peanut, pepper, rose, soybean, strawberry, tea, tobacco, tomato, viburnum, among others.

The following list includes all the families and species confirmed as host in Florida:

  • Acanthaceae: Strobilanthes dyerianus Mast.;
  • Araliaceae: Hedera helix L.;
  • Berberidaceae: Mahonia bealei;
  • Caprifoliaceae: Viburnum suspensum;
  • Combretaceae: Conocarpus erectus, Laguncularia racemosa (L.) Gaertn. f.;
  • Compositae: Gerbera jamesonii H. Bolus ex Hook. f.;
  • Ericaceae: Rhododendron spp.;
  • Euphorbiaceae: Ricinus communis;
  • Illiciaceae: Illicium floridanum, Ellis;
  • Moraceae: Ficus elastica;
  • Oleaceae: Jasminum sambac (L.) Ait., Ligustrum japonicum Thunb.;
  • Pittosporaceae: Pittosporum tobira (Thunb.) Ait. f.;
  • Rosaceae: Raphiolepsis indica, Rhaphiolepis umbellata (Thunb.) Mak. Rosa sp.;
  • Rubiaceae: Gardenia jasminoides, Richardia brasiliensis Gomes;
  • Rutaceae: Citrus sp., Murraya paniculata (L.) Jack;
  • Solanaceae: Capsicum annuum L., Capsicum frutescens L., Capsicum sp.

Potential Economic Impact and Description of Damage:

Before its detection in the continental U.S., chilli thrips was considered a serious economic pest in Asia and Australia where it attacked crops such as strawberries, tea, citrus, cotton, soybeans, chilies, castor beans, peanuts and roses among others. Chilli thrips prefer young leaves, buds, and fruit. Typically auxillary leaf branches tend to be the most damaged. In contrast to western flower thrips, Frankliniella occidentalis, chilli thrips do not feed on flower pollen. Common damage includes browning, bronzing or blackening of infested plant parts, also stains and scars may occur. Severe infestations may result in deformation, leaf distortion, defoliation, stunting, and dwarfing. Feeding may cause buds to become brittle and drop. In addition to directly damaging the host, chilli thrips is a known or suspect vector of the following tospoviruses: Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus, Yellow Spot Virus, Chilli Leaf Curl Disease, Peanut Chlorotic Fan Virus, and Peanut Yellow Spot Virus.

Identification Characteristics:

Adult chilli thrips are approximately 1 mm in size, and pale yellow in color. Adults have dark wings and light dark bands across their abdomen. Although other flower thrips are also a pale yellow color, chilli thrips are approximately half their size. The following items will help you collect and view thrips:

  • Hand lens or magnifier (10X-20X)
  • Small vial or container with alcohol or rubbing alcohol
  • Small paint brush
  • Small white paint board

In order for you to collect thrips, it will be easier if you try to shake the thrips from the foliage onto the paint board. You will then be able to use your small paint brush to gently place your specimens in your vial or container with alcohol. Note that chilli thrips may be in the flowers, but they are often found on new foliage growth. If you collect both flower thrips and chilli thrips adults, you will be able to easily see the size difference. Note that you may see other predators, such as predatory thrips, mites, or other insects with the thrips specimens you collect. If you suspect that you have chilli thrips, it is important that you collect a sample. Other problems such as mites or plant diseases could also cause damage that is similar to a chilli thrips infestation.

Need More Information?

Further thrips screening questions can be directed to your local cooperative extension service or NPDN laboratory

Other Interesting Details:

Did you know that researchers believe that the species currently known as chilli thrips may either represent four new species or biotypes? Differences in species or biotypes at the molecular level could be the reason for differences in pest status worldwide. Researchers with USDA-ARS and Land Grant Universities are currently investigating the potential occurrence of biotypes and/or new species within the species currently known as chilli thrips. Since chilli thrips is of limited distribution in the U.S. and concerns exist for the possibility of new biotype and/or species introductions, USDA-APHIS does not allow plant material infested with chilli thrips to arrive at U.S. ports of entry. Also, the state-to-state movement of chilli thrips within the U.S. is regulated.

Life History:

The life cycle is similar to western flower thrips, with the entire life cycle complete within 14 to 20 days. Average time for life cycle stages includes the following:

  • Eggs: 6-8 days
  • 1st and 2nd instar larva: 6-7 days
  • Pre-pupa: 24 hours
  • Pupa: 2-3 days

A single female is capable of laying 60 to 200 eggs in her lifetime. Temperature and moisture influence the number of generations that may occur per year. Males insert their eggs inside the plant tissue or on or near leaf veins, terminal plant parts and floral structures. Females are capable of reproducing without mating, also known as parthenogenesis. Pupation occurs in the soil, and the entire life.


Several characteristics make chilli thrips difficult to control, including the following:

  • Broad host range
  • Rapid life cycle
  • Reproduction through parthenogenesis
  • Small size
  • Mobility

For localized, specific questions on chilli thrips control, please contact your cooperative extension office

The use of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is advisable in the landscape setting. Possible natural enemies reported for thrips management include the following, Predators: Anthocorids, Chrysopids, Nabids, Aeolothrips, Phlaeothrips, and predatory mites, (Euseius sojanensis, Amblyseius swirskii), predatory thrips (Franklinothrips vespiformis); Parasites: Thripinema (Tylechida: Allantonematidae); Parasitoids: Chalcidoidea (Megaphragma sp.) Ceranisus (Eulophidae); Pathogens: fungal pathogens were recently reported in India. The use of UV mulch, actigard, proper selection of planting date, rotation between different modes of action, are some considerations that growers should keep in mind when trying to control chilli thrips. Insecticidal soaps have shown to be effective suppressing this pest, but in order for them to work, the product needs to be applied regularly on a schedule basis.

Due to the regulatory status of this pest, nursery growers may have fewer options. As with other thrips species, chilli thrips has the potential to develop resistance to pesticides with the same mode of action. If you are using insecticides to control chilli thrips, be sure to rotate the modules of action used. There is a list of pesticides on the page such as abamectin. acephate, acetamiprid and chlorfenapyr among others that are labeled to control thrips and might be effective controlling this pest. The best time to treat is when plants are actively growing because chilli thrips feed on actively growing tissue. Foliar applications for chilli thrips appear to be the most effective. Pyrethroid insecticides such as permethrin and bifethrin are not effective so should be avoided. As long as chilli thrips remains a regulated pest, chemical control or destruction of plant material are the only options for retail nurseries.

Image Gallery:



  • Chamberlin, J., M. Ciomperlik, A. Hodges, J. Michel, C. McKenzie, S. Ludwig, L.S. Osborne, C. Palmer, C. Regelburgge, L. Schmale and D. Schuble. Scirtothrips dorsalis (Chilli thrips) Found at:
  • Hodges, A., S. Ludwig, and L. Osborne. Draft 2009. Chilli Thrips Module. Found at:
  • Hodges, A., S. Ludwig, L. Osborne, M. Ciomperlik, G. Hodges. National Pest Alert: Scirtothrips dorsalis Hood. Published by: USDA-APHIS, USDA-CSREES, Southern IPM Center and National Plant Diagnostic Network.