The effect of tomato, Solanum lycopersicum L., plant and leaf age on the probing and settling behavior of Frankliniella fusca (Hinds) and F. occidentalis (Pergande) was studied using electrical penetration graph technique and whole plant bioassays. Male and female F. fusca probed and ingested more and for longer periods of time on 3- and 4-wk-old plants compared with 6- and 8-wk-old plants. Female F. fusca probed and ingested more frequently than males in the plant age experiment, but not in the leaf age experiment. F. fusca probed and ingested more frequently on 2- and 4-wk-old leaves compared with 1-wk-old leaves. Plant age did not affect the probing frequency or duration of F. occidentalis; however, males probed and ingested longer than females in the plant age experiment and on the oldest leaf in the leaf age experiment. Both thrips species preferred to settle on 3-wk-old plants. F. fusca preferred to settle on 4-wk-old leaves after settling randomly for an hour. F. occidentalis showed no settling preference relative to leaf age. The preference of F. fusca for young plants suggests that this species could attack tomato plants at a very early stage, which is important for understanding its role as a vector in the transmission of Tospovirus in the field.
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