Frankliniella fusca (Hinds) is a species of thrips that is a pest of peanuts and an important vector of tomato spotted wilt virus. In previous research, populations of thrips declined in peanut during midseason for unexplained reasons. Nematodes in the genus Thripinema are parasites of thrips that render infected females sterile. A new species, T. fuscum Tipping & Nguyen, was recently described as a parasite of F. fusca in peanut. In 1997 and 1998, the temporal changes in percent parasitism of F. fusca in plots of peanuts were determined. Parasitism of adult female thrips increased from an estimated 1% on seedling peanut each year to a maximum of 68% later in the 1997 growing season and 38% in the 1998 growing season. Treatments of several insecticides for control of thrips reduced percent parasitism of the females on most sample dates in 1997, but parasitism was not significantly affected in 1998. Estimates of the numbers of F. fusca in the flowers and terminal buds of peanuts declined each year as parasitism increased. The very high levels of parasitism in 1997 were associated with near extinction of larval populations of thrips during midseason. As a result, the spread of tomato spotted wilt virus by this vector species was reduced. Thus, T. fuscum may be an important natural enemy of F. fusca responsible for suppression of populations of thrips in peanut.
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