Flower Color Preferences of Western Flower Thrips

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  • 1 Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois, 1201 S. Dorner Drive, Urbana, IL 61801.
  • 2 Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois, 1101 West Peabody Drive, Urbana, IL 61801.

Flower color preference of western flower thrips [WFT (Frankliniella occidentalis) (Thysanoptera: Thripidae)] was assessed by observing insect location after introduction into chambers containing four different colored flowers of each of three plant species: transvaal daisy (Gerbera jamesonii), matsumoto aster (Callistephus chinensis), and chrysanthemum (Dendranthema ×grandiflorum). Preference was based on the number of WFT adults found on each flower 72 hours after infestation. Significantly higher numbers of WFT were found on yellow transvaal daisy and yellow chrysanthemum. When these accessions were compared in a subsequent experiment, WFT displayed a significant greater preference for the yellow transvaal daisy. Visible and near infrared reflectance spectra of the flowers used in the study were measured to determine the presence of distinct spectral features that would account for the relative attractiveness of the flowers. Likewise, the reflectance spectra of three commercially available sticky cards (blue, yellow, and yellow with a grid pattern) that are used to trap or sample for WFT were compared to those of the flowers to determine any shared spectral features that would support observed WFT flower color preference. The observed similarity between the yellow transvaal daisy and yellow sticky card reflectance spectra supports the hypothesis that flower color contributes to attractiveness of WFT. In particular, the wavelengths corresponding to green-yellow (500 to 600 nm) seem to be responsible for attracting WFT. These findings also indicate that yellow sticky cards may be more appropriate in sampling for WFT than blue sticky cards. Although further research is needed, under the conditions of this study, yellow transvaal daisy appears to be a potentially useful trap crop for WFT.

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