Klabothrips myopori thrips on a Myoporum plant. Inset shows scale. Image: Gevork Arakelian
Identification: Naio thrips, aka Myoporum thrips, is a new pest insect which attacks the Hawaiian naio tree. Thrips are small sucking insects with feathery wings. Pest thrips can cause scarring of leaf, flower, and fruit surfaces leading to lethal plant damage. Naio thrips can be found on many Myoporum species, but is especially noticeable on naio (Myoporum sandwicense). The leaf curling and gall formation effects of thrips on naio plants will be noticed before any insects are seen. These thrips are small, less than 1/20th inch long, and are shiny dark brown with a noticeable posterior tube. Immature thrips are similar in shape but are yellow to orange in color.
Impacts: Naio thrips are causing widespread damage on the popular landscaping Myoporum plants in southern California and the San Francisco area. In Hawaii, this new pest can potentially have devastating effects on our native naio trees which are an important component of lowland and coastal dry forest and comprise roughly one half of the plant biomass of the mamane-naio forest ecosystem.
Dispersal Mechanism: Naio thrips, which are probably native to Australia and New Zealand, can be transported to new areas in infested landscaping plants and locally via the wind. This pest was first noticed on the island of Hawaii in March 2009. It appears to be restricted to the areas of South Kohala and North Kona districts and Waikoloa Village (map). There is still a chance of preventing this pest from establishing in Hawaii. Please report any sightings to 643-PEST or online.
Funding and support for this project was made possible by the Hawai'i Invasive Species Council, the USDA Forest Service State and Private Forestry assistance, and University of Hawai'i-Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit.