Onion thrips, Thrips tabaci Lindeman, is a key foliage-feeding pest of onion worldwide and the principal vector of a serious onion pathogen, Iris yellow spot virus (IYSV). Long-term management of T. tabaci and IYSV will require an understanding of T. tabaci ecology and IYSV epidemiology in onion ecosystems. This study focused on identifying winter-annual, biennial and perennial weed species that host both T. tabaci and IYSV. Unlike summer-annual weeds, weeds with these habits survive overwinter and could serve as a green bridge for IYSV to survive between onion-growing seasons. T. tabaci larvae and adults were sampled every two weeks from 69 weed species in five areas located adjacent to onion fields in western New York in 2008 and 2009. Twenty-five of the 69 weed species were identified as hosts for T. tabaci larvae and populations were highest on the Brassicaceous weeds, Barbarea vulgaris Ait. f., Sinapis arvensis L., and Thalspi arvense L. None of these species are hosts for IYSV. Four of the 25 weed species were hosts for both T. tabaci larval populations and IYSV: common burdock, Arctium minus Bernh., dandelion, Taraxacum officinale G.H. Weber ex Wiggers, curly dock, Rumex crispus L., and chicory, Cichorium intybus L. Of these four weed species, T. officinale and A. minus may play an important role in the epidemiology of IYSV in New York onion fields because they may survive between onion-growing seasons, they are relatively abundant in the landscape, and they support relatively high densities of T. tabaci.
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