Bug on Melon Trees
Location: Malaysia
December 4, 2010 2:00 am
Hi, I am having problems with my melon crops within a netted green house. Location is in Malaysia (tropical climate).
The melon plants grows as usual during the first 2 weeks, after that the grown is stunned and clustering of leaf on the top of the plant becomes apparent. Eventually the plant shoots will dry up and the leaf becomes hard and brittle.
I have lost a few thousand plants due to this.
Recently we have spotted these tiny insects on the leafs and could be the answer to the problems. They are very thin and the length is about 1mm long.
They crawl around the leafs like ants and doesnt seem to fly or hop.
I have not have any luck identifying the class of this pest, in order to determine the right insecticide to use.
Sorry for the poor quality image, hope this will help.z
Signature: Kenny

Possibly Thrips

Hi Kenny,
We cannot make out enough detail in your photo to be certain about an identification, however, you may have Thrips.  We will link to the BugGuide page on Thrips in the order Thysanoptera.  Even though you may have Thrips, we do not believe they are responsible for your high melon mortality rate.  There are other insects that bore in the stems of melons and related plants, and there may be something destroying the roots.  You may want to read this website on the control of Squash Vine Borers, a North American Moth as there may be a Malaysian relative with similar feeding habits.  We are posting your letter in the hopes that one of our readers may have a positive suggestion.  Good luck with your melon crop.

Brian from United States Department of Agriculture comments
As always great job!  Had to comment on this one.  The Thrips can very well be killing these melon plants.  Its well known that thrips are vectors of plant diseases.   “Over 20 plant infecting viruses are known to be transmitted by thrips. These enveloped viruses are considered among some of the most damaging of emerging plant pathogens around the world.”  Their feeding spreads the disease from plant to plant as the suck the juices from an infected plant and move on to a healthy plant and then inoculating it. Its like an contaminated hypodermic needle spreading a disease every time it is use on a new patient.
#1 Fan

Thanks so much Brian.  Your comment was a nice treat after a long, rough day.

Update: January 11, 2011
Dear Daniel,
I managed to get better pictures of the thrips, they are identified as Western Flower Thrips. See attached files.
They are a major pest for greenhouse growers and very difficult to control.


Thanks for the update on your Western Flower Thrips.  Now we have to determine if the singular form of Thrips is Thrip.


Location: Malaysia

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