Banana flower thrips

Thrips hawaiiensis

Small, slender-bodied active insects are readily seen moving on the surface of young banana fruit, particularly near the 'bell' or male end of the new bunch. Adult females (1 mm) are distinctly coloured - bright orange and black - and are usually found under bracts or inside flowers.

Males (0.75 mm) are pale straw-coloured and are usually found on the outer surface of the bracts. Adult thrips have characteristic wings; the transparent wings have a fringe of hairs around the outside edge standing out in the same plane as the wing. They are easily seen with a x10 hand lens.

Fruit damage is caused by feeding and oviposition. Feeding damage results in slightly raised areas on the fruit that are grey-brown to grey-silver at first. They develop to form the corky raised areas of brown corky scab. Damage is confined in most cases to the outer curve of the fruit, particularly near the cushion end where the fruit finger joins the bunch stalk.

In severe infestations, damage can spread to other areas of the fruit. Bottom hands (closest to the male flower) are most at risk, but in severe cases, damage can extend to cover most of the bunch.

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