Plant odours with potential for a push-pull strategy to control the onion thrips (Thrips tabaci)

R.W.H.M. van Tol, D.E. James, W.J. de Kogel, D.A.J. Teulon

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    45 Citations (Scopus)


    We compared the efficacy of four plant essential oils to repel onion thrips, Thrips tabaci (Lindeman) (Thysanoptera: Thripidae), in the presence of an attractive odour, ethyl iso-nicotinate in a pasture field. Four horizontal white sticky plates were placed adjacent to (directions: N, S, E, W) a central horizontal white plate (C). After 24 h, in the treatment combination where the four plates were sprayed with essential oil surrounding a central sticky plate sprayed with ethyl iso-nicotinate, fewer onion thrips were found on the plates treated with sweet marjoram [Origanum majorana L. (Labiatae)] or clove basil [Ocimum gratissimum L. (Labiatae)] (87 and 71% less, respectively) compared to the control treatment of four water-sprayed plates surrounding a central plate with ethyl iso-nicotinate. We also compared the distribution of onion thrips on the plates. Relative thrips numbers on each plate were compared with similar (N, S, E, W, and C) plates in the control treatment. There were relatively lower thrips numbers on the south (23% reduction) and west (26% reduction) O. majorana-treated plates and higher numbers (37% increase) on the central attractant-treated plate indicating a short-distance push-pull effect. When four plates were sprayed with the thrips attractant surrounding a central sticky plate sprayed with an essential oil or water (control), only O. majorana reduced the number of thrips on the attractant-sprayed plates (62% reduction). The distribution of thrips on the different plates within this treatment combination did not change substantially when compared to the distribution in the water-control treatment. Other essential oils tested (wormwood [Artemisia arborescens L. (Compositae)]) and tea tree [Melaleuca alternifolia (Maiden. & Betche.) Cheel. (Myrtaceae)]) were not effective in any of the treatments. It appears that O. majorana is a promising thrips repellent which could be used for further testing in a push-pull system with the attractant ethyl iso-nicotinate. The field setup used also proved to be a valuable tool for evaluating the potential of repellents to control onion thrips.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)69-76
    JournalEntomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


    • essential oils
    • bark beetles
    • pest-control
    • volatiles
    • protect


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