New greenhouse thrips detected

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Poinsettia thrips detected in an Auckland greenhouse

In August 2017, Poinsettia thrips, Echinothrips americanus, were detected in an Auckland greenhouse. We are asking growers and retailers to check house plants and greenhouse vegetable and fruit plants to help determine if the thrips have spread.

If you detect, or suspect that you have seen Poinsettia thrips, please immediately contact MPI on 0800 90 80 66.

  • Poinsettia thrips are an Unwanted Organism in New Zealand, and can feed on a wide range of host plants, causing damage to greenhouse crops such as house plants and cut flowers, tomatoes, and capsicums. Overseas it's also been reported on impatiens and chrysanthemum.
  • This species is already widespread throughout the USA, and parts of Europe and Asia. No previous incursions of E. americanus into New Zealand have been recorded.
  • Poinsettia thrips cause mechanical chewing and feeding damage to host plants, particularly on older leaves.
  • Greenhouse plants with woody stems (eg houseplants) seem to be more affected than softer stemmed plants such as vegetables.
  • Due to New Zealand’s cooler climate, we understand that Poinsettia thrips will not survive outside greenhouses.
  • So far, no Poinsettia thrips have been detected in any other part of New Zealand.

We are seeking the assistance of all greenhouse growers and retailers to undertake surveillance for thrips to find out whether or not it is more widely distributed.  

Please see the Poinsettia thrips fact sheet on what to look for, and actions to take if thrips are detected.

Crop inspection guidance

Poinsettia thrips will be found on all foliage of a plant.

As the thrips are very small and prefer to live on the underside of the leaves. The quickest way to detect them is to look underside of the leaves. If no signs of thrips on leaves, beating i.e. a fairly gentle tapping of the foliage over a white collecting tray, or alternately white disposable plates can be used.

The Poinsettia thrips can be distinguished from other thrips by the white band across them (as shown in the fact sheet); other thrips do not have a band.

If you detect something that may be a poinsettia thrips, transfer into a collection vial using a small brush. As the thrips can be fast moving, a brush dampened with ethanol or water can aid in collecting and transferring them to a suitable container. Cleaned pottles used for tissue culture would make a suitable vessel for collection.

Contact the MPI Exotic Pest and Disease hotline on 0800 80 99 66

Once collected, place the container in a freezer for 24 hours to kill the thrips. This will ensure the thrips is not spread further by accident.


Poinsettia Thrips are 1.7mm in length and have a pale band across the body