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Citrus Pests


Florida flower thrips


Scientific name


Frankliniella bispinosa (Thysanoptera: Thripidae)

Similar species


Frankliniella cephalica

flower thrips, Frankliniella tritici

western flower thrips, Frankliniella occidentalis



United States: Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.

Worldwide: Bahamas, Bermuda, Columbia, Japan, Mexico, Taiwan, and Trinidad.

Diagnostic characteristics

  • 1.1 mm (0.043 in.) in length.
  • Yellow with brown hairs (setae) and yellow legs.
  • Four, narrow, feathery wings with comb-like edges surrounding the entire margins.
  • Eight-segmented antennae, with a pair of stout setae on the second segment.
  • Elongate body with a head wider than its length.
  • Thorax (pronotum) has five pairs of hairs (setae) in all species in the genus Frankliniella.
  • Florida flower thrips have two setae (group II) on the front corners (antero-angular) of the pronotum and a second group of setae (group I) on the front edge, approximately one half of the distance between the corner and middle (median) front edge (antero-marginal) of the pronotum. Group I setae are distinctly shorter than group II setae.
  • Western flower thrips can be separated from Florida flower thrips since group I and group II setae are approximately equal in length.
  • Pale yellow.
  • Cylindrical, with a slight kidney-shaped curvature.


Citrus hosts

All Citrus species and their hybrids.

Non-citrus hosts

Known to infest 29 families of plants including those listed below.

  • bean, Phaseolus spp.
  • corn, Zea mays
  • cucumber, Cucumis sativus
  • oak, Quercus spp.
  • pine, Pinus spp.
  • pigweed, Amaranth spp.
  • Rosa spp., particularly white-flowered varieties
  • Spanish needle, Bidens alba
  • squash, Cucurbita spp.
  • strawberry, Fragraria spp.
  • tomato, Solanum lycopersicum
  • watermelon, Citrullus lanatus

Host damage

  • Young citrus flowers and buds can be damaged.
  • Feed on the petals, pistils, and stamens of the flowers.
  • Damaged parts turn brownish-yellow.
  • Navel and valencia oranges may experience premature flower drop.
  • Young citrus fruit can be damaged, causing premature drop.
  • Cosmetic scarring of fruit tissue encircling the stem can indicate feeding by thrips.



The insect feeds on the plant during the first and second larval instars and adult stage of its life cycle. The pre-pupa and pupa are found in the soil and do not feed. During the summer in southeast Florida, flower thrips can attain maturity in 11 days and have 12 - 15 generations per year.



There are more than 160 species listed in the genus Frankliniella which can make correct identification difficult and require microscopic examination. For example, Florida flower thrips, Frankliniella bispinosa can only be differentiated from the Caribbean species, F. cephalica visually by the shape of the pedicel of the third antennal segment.

Florida flower thrips are able to vector a damaging plant pathogen, Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV), a Tospovirus capable of infecting many economically important crops, including citrus, blueberries, strawberries, avocados, vegetables, and ornamentals.



Childers, C.C. 1999. Flower thrips: Frankliniella bispinosa (Morgan), F. kelliae Sakimura (Thysanoptera: Thripidae) and postbloom fruit drop disease are economic pests on Florida citrus. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 112: 88-95.

Childers C.C., and S. Nakahara. 2006. Thysanoptera (thrips) within citrus orchards in Florida: species distribution, relative and seasonal abundance within trees, and species on vines and ground cover plants. J. Insect Sci. 6: 1-19. (

Hoddle, M.S., L.A. Mound, and D. Paris. 2008. Thrips of California. Frankliniella cephalica. (

Mound, L.A. 2006. Florida flower thrips (Frankliniella bispinosa). Pest and Diseases Image Library (

(OEPP/EPPO) European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization. 2002. Diagnostic protocols for regulated pests. Bulletin OEPP/EPPO 32: 281-292 (

Osborne, L.S., and L.O. Durant. 1994. Flower thrips, pp. 1-108. In J.R. Baker (Ed.) Insect and related pests of flowers and foliage plants some important, common, and potential pests in the southeastern United States. (

Watson, J.R. 1923. The proper name and distribution of the Florida flower thrips. Fla. Entomol. 7: 9-11. (

Whitfield, A.E., D.E. Ullman, and T.L., German. 2005. Tospovirus-thrips interactions. Annu. Rev. Phytopathol. 43: 459-89.

Yolanda, Y., J. Stavinsky, S. Hague, J. Funderburk, S. Reitz, and T. Momol. 2006. Evaluation of Frankliniella bispinosa (Thysanoptera: Thripidae) as a vector of the Tomato spotted wilt virus in pepper. Florida Entomologist. 89: 204-207. (



Martin, K.W., A.C. Hodges, and N.C. Leppla


Citrus Pests
Content last updated June, 2012