The dispersal behavior of flower thrips was studied during two field seasons within blueberry (Vaccinium spp.) plantings in Florida and southern Georgia. A “shake and rinse” technique used to extract thrips from inside the blueberry flowers was not significantly different from the conventional dissecting technique, but the time taken to complete the extraction of thrips was significantly shorter. Overall, the highest concentration of thrips was captured inside the canopy of blueberry bushes. Using a grid of traps to monitor the dispersal of thrips during the blueberry flowering season, we analyzed their dispersion with graphical and analytical methods to determine and describe their distribution within blueberry plantings. Thrips began to form “hot-spots” 5–7 d after bloom initiation. A hot-spot is defined as a large number of thrips concentrated in a small area of the field, whereas the rest of the field has a low population. The behavior of the population inside these hot-spots fit a Gaussian tendency and a regression was conducted to describe this tendency. Green’s and Standardized Morisita’s indices were used to determine thrips level of aggregation. Results showed significantly aggregated populations of thrips in both years. Formation of hot-spots in blueberry plantings seemed to be random. However, the formation of hot-spots was higher in places where more than seven thrips per day were captured on sticky traps, 5 to 7 d after the bloom begins. With these results, producers will be able to monitor thrips populations and locate and manage hot-spots before they become a more serious a problem on blueberry farms.
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Vol. 100 • No. 5