The tobacco thrips, Frankliniella fusca (Hinds) (Thysanoptera: Thripidae), is generally the most common insect pest of seedling cowpea, Vigna unguiculata (L.), in the south-central USA. Tobacco thrips damage cowpea by puncturing and feeding on the cells of leaves, thereby causing the leaves to curl and yellow. In 2007 field studies, a mean of 0.82 F. fusca were detected per plant and few significant differences in thrips abundance were detected among the planting dates. Emergent (folded) leaves held significantly more immature and adult F. fusca than more-developed and open leaves. In 2008 samples, mean total thrips numbers were 2.28 per plant. Cowpea planted in May and early June held significantly more adult, immature, and total F. fusca per plant than did cowpea planted in late June, July, or August. Again in 2008, new emergent (folded) leaves held significantly more adult and immature F. fusca than either unifoliate or unfolded trifoliate leaves. Unifoliate leaves exhibited little feeding injury from F. fusca; injury to 1st and 2nd trifoliate leaves was greater. Although foliar injury ratings varied greatly, cowpea seedlings from the latest plantings generally sustained less injury than was observed on earlier plantings.
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