Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Attack of the Thrips
About this time of year we are subject to various beasties and ghouls coming out to play. Some of these are the Cuban laurel thrips, Gynaikothrips ficorum, a large population of which lives in my neighbor's ficus forest. As is common during an October heat spell, a mass of them matured into adults today and flew off in search of new territory. Often they will alight on you if you're wearing bright green or yellow; I suppose those colors mimic the young foliage which would be a good place for these thrips to lay eggs.
The sun was obscured by smoke from the Silverado fire as the thrips emerged at midday, but apparently they were attracted by the lights in my office. Underneath each of my lights a pile of squirming black things started building up: on this ledger, all over the Sunset Western Garden book, and unfortunately on my desktop where I was attempting to work. Relatively easy to brush off of these surfaces, the thrips also sometimes get on people (like me) and bite. The 'Green Gem' variety of Ficus nitida was developed for its resistance to these thrips and is recommended for planting anywhere you might (for whatever perverted reason) want to plant ficus trees.