May 2007. Over the past 3 to 4 months, the effects of a pest or disease have been noticed on Tabebuia spp. in Antigua, including White cedar and Golden trumpet plants. Symptoms typically include the crinkling of the leaves inwards along the axis of the mid-vein and generally associated with a dark coloured insect usually about 3-4 mm in length.
Later, on 22 February 2008, in an email to CariPestnet from the Forest Officer, MAFF, St Lucia, it was said that the crinkling was noticed on Dominica last year (though it may have started before) and it has since been seen on Saba (October 2006) as well as on Montserrat (October 2007), although it was not seen in Grenada earlier this year.
Dominica has two native species of White cedar, Tabebuia pallida – which is distributed along the windward coast (mature leaves are mostly entire) in the littoral woodland – and Tabebuia heterophylla – with its 5-lobed leaves, distributed along the Caribbean coast in the dry and seasonal forest.
The cause of the problem on the White Cedar was positively identified by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (Division of Plant Industry) as the White cedar thrip: Holopothrips iniquilinus (Family: Phlaeothripidae).
Both species have been affected on Dominica, but the Pink pouis (Tabebuia rosea), which has been planted as an ornamental, has not been affected, although the trees would sometimes be right next to affected White cedar.