Thrips exhibit different reproductive modes including thelytoky (females produced from unfertilized eggs), arrhenotoky (males produced from unfertilized eggs and females produced from fertilized eggs) and deuterotoky (females and males produced from unfertilized eggs). We investigated patterns of reproductive modes in onion thrips, Thrips tabaci Lindeman, populations and potential effects of the bacterium Wolbachia and temperature on these modes. We also examined the possibility that male-producing T. tabaci populations were resistant to the frequently used insecticides, lambda-cyhalothrin and methomyl. In New York during 2002–2004, T. tabaci populations were sampled from 20 onion fields and reproductive mode was determined by identifying sex of progeny from virgins. Half of the populations were thelytokous and half were a mix of thelytokous, arrhenotokous and deuterotokous individuals, which we refer to as a male-producing population. In two of four cases, the reproductive mode of a population from the same onion field changed across years, suggesting that populations either mix or an external factor caused the change. To address the latter, we speculated that Wolbachia or high temperature mediated reproductive modes. Samples of T. tabaci representing each reproductive mode were examined for Wolbachia using diagnostic polymerase chain reaction (PCR), but it was not detected. Cytological examination of ovaries from two additional thelytokous lines also showed no evidence of Wolbachia. Similarly, high temperature did not affect sex allocation ratios in either thelytokous or male-producing populations. Male-producing T. tabaci populations were not positively correlated with resistance to lambda-cyhalothrin, or tolerance to methomyl. The role of the different reproductive modes in T. tabaci populations in onion fields remains unclear.
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