Cuban Laurel Thrips – Gynaikothrips ficorum

Cuban Laurel Thrips: Appearance, Territory, Damage and Life

Latin name: Gynaikothrips ficorum

Appearances: Gynaikothrips ficorum, the Cuban laurel thrips, is a huge (up to 1/8 inch) elongated dark brown to the black insect. Smooth and translucent white, the egg is cylindrical with rounded ends. The larvae in the initial stage are tiny, translucent white insects. The first stage larva seems practically round when viewed from above. The second-stage larvae are equally translucent white, but their size and shape are comparable to that of the adult. Red eyes are seen in both stages. From the thorax, the abdominal segments taper. The second stage larvae are fashioned like an elongate diamond in top view.

Host plants: Indian laurel, weeping fig, India rubber plant, different figs, and various shrubs and herbs are all eaten by Cuban laurel thrips. Weeping fig is the most commonly affected host in the floricultural industry.

Territory: While the majority of Gynaikothrips spp. are found in Asia, the genus has also been found in Africa. Gynaikothrips ficorum is a pantropical thrips that can be found growing on Ficus microcarpa L. f. Algeria, the Canary Islands, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Guam, Taiwan, Ecuador, India, Java, Mexico, Nassau (Bahamas), Nicaragua, Israel, Palestine, Panama, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Thailand, Spain, Sicily, and the United States are among the countries where it has been discovered. In the USA, it is recorded from California, Florida, Hawaii, and Texas.

Damage insect caused: The depressed, reddish to purplish blotches along the midrib is caused by this bug feeding on the fragile, pale green leaves. Immature thrips force the leaves to coil inward or fold into a pocket where the thrips can develop and lay their eggs. Leaves that have been heavily infested eventually turn rough and brown or yellow in color. They gradually fall off the plant before it matures. Infested trees will not die, but their decorative value will be greatly reduced. The Cuban laurel thrips, like the flower thrips, bite people.

Life cycle and habits: It takes around 30 days for a life cycle to complete. Within 2 to 3 days of infestation, the adults migrate to the terminal leaves and form folded-leaf galls. Within a single gall, mating, egg-laying, and an entire generation occur. Adults emerge from galls within a few days of emergence and travel to new terminal leaves on the same or different terminal stems to start a new generation. The egg is smooth and translucent white, cylindrical in shape with rounded ends.