How to recognize onion thrips 

The body color of adult onion thrips changes depending on their food, ranging from lightbrown to lightyellow with browngrey colored wings. Both adults and larvae have short antennae. The adult onion thrips ranges from 0.8 to 1.2 mm. This species is very similar to the western flower thrips (Franklinielaa occidentalis). 

Onion thrips damage and distribution 

The onion thrips can be found on all plant parts, but has a preference for young leaves in the middle of the plant. It can usually be found on the underside of the leaves along the large veins. Pupation happens in the soil. The thrips are very active and scatter and hide when disturbed. Adult thrips can fly, which they do, especially when disturbed. They feed by puncturing and sucking leaf cells. Punctured cells will change color and form silver-white spots.  During heavy infestation, leaves will wither and die. In onion, this leads to reduced bulb size. Onion thrips is known vector of several viruses, including tomato spotted wilt virus. 

Onion thrips Thrips tabaci
Onion thrips

Onion thrips life cycle

  • 80-100 eggs per female
  • eggs in leaves and petioles
  • development time 10-20 days
  • several generations per year
  • parthenogenetic reproduction

Onion thrips host plants

  • in greenhouses, horticulture and floriculture
  • also in agriculture
  • tomato, beans, cucumber
  • cabbage, onions
  • bulbous plants
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Onion thrips

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– European pepper moth

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Common thrips species

Echinothrips
Orchid thrips
Onion thrips
Greenhouse thrips
Palm thrips
Western flower thrips

Banded greenhouse thrips