Vegetables New Zealand

Poinsettia Thrips

Poinsettia Thrips

Posted by on 21 December 2017


Have you seen Poinsettia Thrips in your greenhouse?  If you detect, or suspect that you have seen Poinsettia thrips, please immediately contact MPI on 0800 80 99 66.

In August this year we reported that a new Thrip species (Pointsettia) was reported in a greenhouse in South Auckland, and we asked you to keep an eye out for the thrip on your property.

Echinothrips americanus live resize 2

Please continue to stay vigilant over the coming weeks and if you suspect you may have this thrip ring the MPI Pest and Disease hotline number above.

We recommend that you check that contractors and others coming to your property from another production side are taking biosecurity precautions such as wearing coverall suits, booties and hats and bringing only clean equipment, especially if you are in the Auckland region.

Vegetables NZ Inc. and other affected industry groups have continued to work with MPI, providing coordination, technical input and our larger members have also provided crop scouting staff for the surveillance.

Fact sheets in English, Chinese and Korean are available here - 

Poinsettia-Thrips-Fact-Sheet-English-Sept-2017.pdf / Poinsettia-Thrips-Fact-Sheet-Chinese-Sept-2017.pdf / Poinsettia-Thrips-Fact-Sheet-Korean-Sept-2017.pdf

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Poinsettia Thrips are 1.7mm in length and have a pale band across the body.

In August 2017, Echinotrhips americanus were detected in one Auckland greenhouse.  We are asking for growers' help to determine if they have spread.

  • Poinsettia thrips are an Unwanted Organism in New Zealand, and can feed on a wide range of host plants, causing damage to greenhouse crops such as house plants and cut flowers, capsicums and tomatoes.

  • This species is already widespread throughout the USA, and parts of Europe and Asia.

  • Poinsettia thrips cause mechanical chewing and feeding damage to host plants, particularly on older leaves.

  • Greenhouse plants with woody stems (e.g. houseplants) seem to be more affected than softer stemmed plants such as vegetables.

  • From overseas experience, it seems they are not likely to add to the pest burden for capsicums, cucumber, eggplant, tomato and leafy green production.

  • Due to New Zealand’s cooler climate, we understand that Poinsettia thrips will not survive outside greenhouses.

  • So far, we have not detected Pointsettia thrips in any other part of New Zealand.

Crop Inspection Guidance

Poinsettia thrips will be found on all foliage of a plant.

As the thrips are very small and prefer to live on the underside of the leave the quickest way to detect them is to look underside of the leaves.  If no signs of thrips on leaves, beating i.e. a fairly gentle tapping of the foliage over a white collecting tray, or alternately white disposable plates can be used.

The Pointsettia thrips can be distinguished from other thrips by the white band across them (as shown in the fact sheet); other thrips do not have a band.

If you detect something that may be a poinsettia thrip, transfer into a collection vial using a small brush.  As the thrips can be fast moving, a brush dampened with ethanol or water can aid in collecting and transferring them to a suitable container.  Cleaned pottles used for tissue culture would make a suitable vessel for collection.

Contact the MPI Exotic Pest and Disease hotline on 0800 80 9966.

Once collected, place the container in a freezer for 24 hours to kill the thrips.  This will ensure the thrips are not spread further by accident.