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Southern California Regional Reports

Pest Alert: Chilli Thrips

Recognize the warning signs of these insects before they destroy your roses

Leaves rolling upward may be an early sign of chilli thrip presence. Photo: courtesy of Linda McKendry Design

The chilli thrip (Scirtothrips dorsalis) has become a serious problem in Southern California. This is a small insect native to Southeast Asia that has made its way to the United States, first appearing in Florida and Texas. Although it is quite mobile—able to fly up to 60 feet on a wind current—it has most likely been brought in on plants. Chilli thrips attack more than 150 species of plants, but one of their favorite plants to feed on are roses (Rosa spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9). This is because they prefer new growth, which roses are continually producing.

You may be more familiar with the western flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis). The chilli thrips are only about a third of the size but are even more deadly. They have piercing, razorlike mouthparts that cut open and suck the life out of plant material.

To get more information, I spoke to local expert…

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