The Valencian Institute for Agrarian Research (IVIA) has made significant progress in the study of orchid thrips (Chaetanaphothrips orchidii), a citrus pest that is spreading rapidly across all Valencian production areas and which threatens to damage a considerable share of the next orange harvest.

A research project has served to expand the knowledge about their biology, ecology and behaviour. The goal is to develop different control methods (biological, cultural and chemical), identifying various pesticides already on the market that are very effective against this pest.

However, the active substances that can help control this thrips are not yet authorized for use in citrus crops, so there is an urgent need for the formulation companies and the Administration itself to work in obtaining the necessary permits, at least in an extraordinary way, so that what has been rigorously demonstrated in IVIA laboratories and experimental plots can be used in cultivation fields.

Alberto Urbaneja, coordinator of the IVIA Department of Entomology and Plant Protection, said that the list of insecticides that are effective against this thrips includes Spinosad, Spiroteram, Etofenprox, Tau-fluvalinate, Spirotetramat and Azadiractin. Out of these, only the last one is currently authorized for use in citrus, and also in integrated production. The rest are used against other citrus pests, but do not have official authorizations for use against orchid thrips.

European regulation is extremely strict in this regard. Each use must be requested, for each crop and each pest, and a multitude of parameters must be demonstrated, investing large sums of money in each case; hence the prevailing limitations and deficiencies.

The Citrus Exporters Management Committee has acknowledged the work carried out by IVIA researchers, who have also discovered the existence of a predator for this thrips, the Franklinothrips megalops, but since its population is not yet large enough to fully control the pest, it will remain necessary to resort to chemical treatments in order to avoid serious damage.  Source: lasprovincias.es. Image: agric.wa.gov.au