Science Into Practice - Tackling thrips on strawberries

Western flower thrips (WFTs) have become an increasingly important pest of strawberries in recent years and everbearing varieties have been particularly badly affected, resulting in serious financial losses.

The HDC is part funding Defra Horticulture LINK Project HL01107 (SF 120) to develop a comprehensive range of new effective methods for managing western flower thrips on protected strawberries in the UK.

A number of key findings have been made to date. Before flowering, WFTs can be most effectively monitored using blue sticky traps with a pheromone lure with the bottom of the trap (landscape orientation) about 10cm above the top of the crop.

From flowering, the number of adult thrips per medium age flower taken from the top of the plant can be used to estimate populations, and a sampling programme is being developed to identify accurate damage thresholds.

Overwintering results in significantly higher populations of WFTs in second-year crops than those found in first-year crops.

A WFTs emergence prediction model was developed early in the project and pest development data is now being incorporated into the model.

Experiments have also been assessing the potential of using the predators Orius laevigatus and Neoseiulus cucumeris as predators of WFTs in strawberry.

The use of blue sticky roller traps along the tunnel legs (30cm wide, 100m long, Optiroll, Russell IPM) can significantly reduce thrip numbers and fruit damage.

Horticultural Development Company

For details on all HDC activity, visit

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