Getting rid of thrips


Thrips: How to Identify and Get Rid of These House Plant Pests

What They Look Like

Thrips are thin, black insects with feathery wings. They’re tiny and difficult to see unless disturbed, hopping quickly or flying away.

They’re not common on indoor plants. More typically found in the outdoor flower garden, they can hitch a ride indoors on plants, people and pets. Once inside, they have no choice but to feed on your house plants. They multiply quickly, so it doesn’t take long before you have a large infestation on your hands.

Their young are yellowish and wingless.

Where to Find Them

Green Thumb Tip

Cleaning your plants regularly does double-duty. You’re not only removing dust — you can prevent insects from taking up residence on your plant.

Use a clean cloth for each plant to avoid giving bugs a ride from one plant to another.

These insects suck plant juices with their needle-sharp mouthparts, causing a great deal of damage to plants. They feed on both leaves and flowers.

Thrip larvae is on the surface of the soil, so be sure to treat the soil, too.

Thrips damage is worst in hot, dry conditions. Obvious signs of infestation are silvery streaked areas on leaves and dark spots on flowers.

Check your house plants regularly and treat any infestation as soon as you notice it. Insects manage to reproduce quickly, and with a large population, will do a lot of damage.

How to Get Rid of Thrips

Isolate the plant so they don’t move on to your other plants. Prune any heavily damaged leaves or flowers.

The easiest way to remove these insects is to wash them off with a fine spray of water. It’s a good idea to spray your plant again after a few days.

If that doesn’t do the trick, there are other non-toxic treatments that will work. Use an insecticidal soap made for indoor plants. Spray every 2-3 days for 4 weeks or as needed. Make sure your plant is listed on the product label. Read the label carefully and follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.

Neem oil sprays, such as Bon-Neem for house plants is effective in getting rid of thrips. Neem oil doesn’t kill them immediately — it causes them to stop feeding so that they die.

Blue sticky traps placed near the plant are also a good option. Although many other pests are drawn to yellow sticky traps, research shows thrips are attracted to bright blue.

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Thrips are tiny insects which have piercing mouth parts which can do damage to most any plant. If given the chance, they will take advantage of garden species as well as common landscape vegetation spreading disease and causing damage. Since they will readily live on just about any type of plant, it is important to control outbreaks when first identified to help keep damage and populations in check. A few thrips can easily go unnoticed; a large infestation can decide the local plants are not enough to eat and once they start stinging people and pets, you will surely know they are present.


Thrips are small insects, measuring about 1/25 to 1/8 of an inch long. They range in color from clear to white to yellow to brown to black. It is generally believed local populations will take on a color similar to that of the plant they are mostly feeding upon. Although there are Tobacco thrips or Flower thrips, it is evident they are not specie specific and they can in fact live on just about any type of plant which is able to provide them with a source of sap, juice and water.

Thrips may or may not have wings but most stages do and these are clear and feather like. Thrips are mobile and will crawl, jump, walk and fly to any target they focus upon. Their light bodies and wing structure enable them to ride wind currents great distances allowing them to find new food and nest locations as needed. Though plants are generally where they want to be nesting, water and high moisture seem to be more important.

Its not uncommon for local activity to be centered around some area in the landscape holding water. This may serve as a prime reproductive ground for them to go through their pupal stage and to provide protection during times of drought or plant dormancy. This is more typical in the northern regions; in the southern growing zones thrips will remain active year round.


  1. The life cycle of a thrip is unique and fast. Eggs are laid on plant tissue and hatching young will immediately begin to feed on any part of the plant which presents sap and vital fluids containing nutrition.
  2. After a week or so, larva will pass through two stages having eaten during this time.
  3. Once the third stage begins eating will stop and at this stage some may even develop wings, fly off or simply crawl down into leaf litter and mulch to pupate. It is probably the hatching of the pupa which are most responsible for the cases involving biting thrips.
  4. The fourth stage, the pupa, is where they turn into fully mature adults ready to mate and reproduce. Females have the unique ability to lay eggs which will prosper whether they mate with a male or not. In general, eggs produced from fertile females will yield offspring of either sex; eggs generated by females which could not find males will produce nothing but males. This biased result insures the local population gets a good balance for the future since thrips develop so quickly.

This whole process from egg to adult can happen in as little as two weeks depending on the species and the local environment. For this reason its important to realize just how quickly a few can turn into a few thousand and further explains why it is all important to head off these developing colonies and populations when first found.


Though rapid development of thrips by itself may not seem like reason to stop this small, innocent insect from having it’s time in the sun, the damage and discomfort it will cause is more than enough. Here are some of the common problems associated with having thrips active and living on plants in or around the home.

  1. The sucking and piercing mouth parts of thrips are enough to cause substantial damage to any plant. Young plants are more vulnerable and targeted more; older more established vegetation can be seriously damaged as well when a large enough population is feeding on vital sap – the life’s blood of any plant – during the dry and stressful hot season.
  2. Leaves of vegetation will turn brown and curl causing them to loose their ability to provide shelter and perform life sustaining photo synthesis. Defoliation can occur as well which can mean the certain death for some plants.
  3. The biting and sucking of thrips is responsible for the transmission of plant disease including many types of fungus and virus.
  4. Thrips will readily sting people and pets. Though not generally identified as a biting pest, thrips are readily attracted to people. This is thought to happen because people perspire. This moisture will readily attract thrips seeking a drink during hot dry spells. However, they will readily land on people once populations get large and begin foraging and migrating. As host plants get filled with thrips and sap begins to dry and deplete, thrips will begin to move away by flying, jumping and crawling.


Yes. Any time people are in close proximity to hatching thrip pupae, they will become targets as hungry thrips turn to anything in their way which provide nutrition. Stings will hurt and cause rashes. Its also believed the fourth stage of thrips, the pupa, will readily target people as they hatch. This is common in landscape which has high moisture. Well irrigated lawns, flower beds and gardens are prime targets for pupating thrips and when people move about in the yard they will in turn awaken the developing thrips causing them to hatch. At that time their first goal is to eat because they will emerge quite hungry.

If people are still present, they will become immediate targets. Since thrips are small, it s not uncommon for them to go unseen and many times misidentified as either a No-seeum, a mosquito or some type of biting fly. The fast flying Thrip is the common culprit and since they can pass through just about any window screen, they will readily find their way into homes. Once in the home, people and pets will become targets for food; potted plants will become the prime location for egg laying and reproduction.

If you’ve been targeted by thrips and find their bites to be itchy, BITE SWABS can be applied to the skin for itch relief.

For skin with long term damage, extensive scabbing or rash like patches, use GENES CREAM. Made with all natural ingredients, this formulation is designed to help relieve the itch and discomfort associated with thrip bites and in turn, allow for rapid healing.


To help keep active thrips from biting, 100% DEET will keep them off treated skin. Use it on arms, legs and necks to keep them away. 100% Deet is strong enough to remain active all day and will repel any flying pest.

A longer lasting repellent are BUG BANDS. They use citronella for actives and no doubt easier to deploy. Plus they can last 2-4 weeks.


For plants prone to getting infested every summer, treat them with PEST RID every 30 days to keep them insect free. This organic spray is made with plant oil and food grade actives which act as a repellent for certain insects including thrips. It’s safe to spray on plants like roses, privets, azalea’s and anything thrips like to infest. Pest Rid will not kill insects and only repels them so once you get infested, you’ll be better served using one of the traditional sprays listed below.


Thrips can be managed using a range of organic gardening approved products including traps and sprays.


For random thrip activity in the yard, THRIP TRAPS can be placed where activity is noticed. They’ll readily attract and capture foraging thrips and in turn, reduce the activity. Space them 10 feet apart along flower beds, mulch lines or walkways.

For plants, use hanging YELLOW GLUE TRAPS. These will work on a wide range of pests like whiteflies and aphids too.

Keep in mind that even though these traps will catch and kill a lot of pests, they should not be used as the sole method of pest eradication. Glue traps at best will only alert you to the presence of pests and cannot control or eliminate an ongoing infestation. Nor can they protect plants from future problems.


If you have sensitive vegetables, roses or any type of plant with a small problem, spraying ORGANIC FLYING INSECT KILLER. will knock them down immediately. This is a ready to use formulation and won’t be a hazard to the plants or people eating harvested fruits or vegetables. You can use this it on fruit, vegetables, and any tree or shrub and it won’t hurt the foliage or impact growth.

Applications only last a few days so expect to use it 1-2 a week to keep things under control during the warm season.

A longer lasting organic option is MULTIPURPOSE INSECT KILLER. Treatments using this concentrate will last at least a week and it’s water based so it won’t harm treated plants. Spray shrubs and garden plants too since its approved for use on fruit and vegetable producing plants.


If you want something a little stronger and more traditional for the vegetable garden, go with VEGETABLES PLUS PERMETHRIN. This is a true insecticide which is odorless, easy to mix and works on just about any pest in and around the garden. Since it works well for whiteflies and aphids, Permethrin is a natural for plants which are subject to a wide range of pests including thrips. Most importantly, it is the strongest product available for use on fruits and vegetables so if you have a garden you are trying to protect, this is your best bet.

Mix 2 oz per gallon of water for maintenance spraying; 4 oz per gallon when treating established populations.

When using Multipurpose Insect Killer or Vegetables Plus, a standard PUMP SPRAYER will be needed.

For large areas or gardens, CYONARA RTS might be more efficient to use. It comes in a container which hooks to your garden hose and is “ready to spray”. Basically the water from the hose will mix with the concentrate and provide the proper solution as you water with the hose. 1 jug can treat up to 1/2 acre so for large scale treatments or just to save time, Cyonara is a good way to go.


If you want the strongest thrip option available and don’t intend on treating plants to eat or plants which will produce fruits or vegetables, go with MAXXTHOR EC. This concentrate will handle thrips well and a little bit goes a long way. 1 oz used in 5 gallons of water will cover up to 5,000 sq/ft.

Use a HOSE END SPRAYER to apply the Maxxthor. Using the power of your garden hose will enable you get fast and thorough coverage.


For non-fruit bearing trees and shrubs, using a systemic will provide long term control from just one application. For most regions in the United Stated, just one application per year will usually do the job when using the right option.

One of the best is PROTHOR SC. To protect your trees for the whole year, use .2 oz per inch of tree diameter. So for if your tree is 10″ wide, use 2 oz in 5 gallon bucket with 3-4 gallons of water. Pour the solution around the base of the tree, close to the trunk, making sure it soaks in. Punching a few holes in the ground can help get it down fast.

For shrubs, add 1/2 oz to a gallon of water and use the gallon on plants with a 4 foot wide base. For a bush just 2 feet wide, 1/2 gallon of the mixed solution will be enough.

The great thing about Prothor is treatments will last a long time. Generally you only need to apply them once a year. Now they do take some time to “grow into” the treated plants. So if you want to knock down the current activity, lightly spray the plants foliage where insects are active. Prothor can be used as a foliage spray too.


Once thrips get established out in the yard, they may find their way inside the home. You’ll know this is happening when people start getting bit. And if you keep plants inside the home, thrips will many times start to nest in the soil of these plants and become a permanent resident. And once this happens, they live, breed and bite all year long.

So if you’re finding thrips inside, get the outside treated as explained above.

Next, potted plants kept inside should be treated with VEGETABLES PLUS. Be sure to mist the plant’s leaves and stems so no area is missed. Next, drench the soil in the pot by mixing 2 oz per gallon of water and then using this mixture to water the plants. Vegetables Plus is odorless, won’t bother the plant and will control anything living in the soil.

To kill adults flying around the home, use AQUACIDE. This aerosol contains pyrethrin as the active and can be used as a space spray for flying pests like thrips. It can be safely applied anywhere in the home and used as often as is needed. Expect to treat 2-3 times a day to maintain an active population if they’re breeding in the home. One can will be enough to treat an average home 5-10 times so for treating a room or two, a can should last a month or more.

But if the problem is ongoing and the Aquacide has to be applied daily for several weeks, consider installing some AEROSOL MACHINES. These devices are small (about half the size of a cigar box), are powered by batteries and will work automatically around the clock. They’re safe to use in the home where people and pets are active yet strong enough to kill flying insects like thrips. Set one machine out for every 400 sq/ft of room you want to protect. They should be placed on a shelf or hung on the wall at least 5 feet hight.

Inside the machine you’ll need to add a can of CLEAR ZONE. These cans will be releasing the same active in the Aquacide (pyrethrin) but since the machine will be doing this every 15 minutes, you’ll always have enough active ingredient working for you around the clock. This way the local thrip population will eventually be eradicated because hatching adults won’t be able to reach maturity.

One can will last 30-45 days and should be replaced when empty so the treatments can continue uninterrupted.


With the legalization of medicinal marijuana, we frequently get asked for “pot safe chemicals”. The most common pests found on marijuna are thrips, whiteflies, symphilids, fungus gnats and spider mites. No doubt marijuana plants will readily attract a wide range of insect pests and many of these can prove devastating to the growers crop. So are there products specifically for use on marijuana?

Not really. You see, since there are countless thousands of plants, it’s simply not possible to list them all on any one specimen label. And since legally growing marijuna is just a fledgling business, it will take some time before the products on the market start to list this plant specifically.

So at this time the “strongest” chemicals are limited to non edible plants like ornamentals. Since these do not yield edible fruit or vegetables, the actives used on them can be long lasting. Such products (live Avid), should NOT be used on marijuana.

But anything approved for organic gardening or labels which are ORMI certified can be considered. These products typically have a short life on the plant and if the active ingredient isn’t “lingering” with persistent residue or residual action, there is no chance of exposure to people consuming the harvest.

In fact, one way to determine if a product might be leaving a long lasting residue or residual is to check the label to learn the “days to harvest” value. If this number is 1 day or less, it means the chemical being applied is essentially gone in one day.

And if a spray has a “one day to harvest” value when used on edible fruits or vegetables, its safe enough for use on marijuana. An example of such a product is the MULTIPURPOSE INSECT KILLER 567 (also listed above). Multipurpose Insect Killer is actually a combination of Soap and Pyrethrin so it’s fast acting yet very safe. Treatments won’t leave any residual (they’re gone within a day of being applied). Of course, the obvious problem with this feature is that targeted pests can come back which in turn means you’ll no doubt have to spray more frequently. But this is the trade off when using a concentrate safe enough for use on an edible fruit or vegetable plant.


The other option is to “space spray” the air around your plants with a pyrethrin based aerosol like AQUACIDE or METERED INSECTICIDE listed above. These products use pyrethrin for actives and break down within hours of being applied. The Aquacide can be applied manually as needed; the Metered Insecticide needs to be applied using the automated AEROSOL MACHINE.

Basically you set the machine to go off on a regular schedule (the default setting is once every 15 minutes which is ideal). These two options are good choices for small green houses, closets, etc. and like the liquid sprays listed above, won’t leave persistent or long lasting chemicals on the plants.

Thrips are a common pest that will readily infest many plants in and around the home. Though small and easy to crush with your fingers, thrips are a persistent and annoying insect. Help prevent getting them on any sensitive plant because once you get them they can cause a lot of damage to host vegetation as well as spread disease. Use the Flying Insect Killer for prevention; use either Insecticidal Soap, Permethrin Concentrate or Talstar once you have them and want to eliminate local populations. Permethrin or Deltamethrin Dust are two other products that will work to knock out existing colonies once found and if you have a lot of damp mulch areas where they are nesting, use some ECO Exempt Granules for long term control and residual. By keeping this small but troublesome pest under control you will assuredly keep local plants protected and not enable them to get so populated that they start stinging people.


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Thrips belong to order Thysanoptera that are tiny, slender, sucking insects having fringed wings and feed on the outer layer of small leaves, tender shoots and flowers causing stippling on the upper surface of the leaves besides silvering of the lower surface of the leaves. The stippling of the leaves leads to discoloration usually turning them yellow and eventually defoliate from the plant. Thrips secrete black frass on the lower surface of the leaves. Thrips are also considered responsible for spreading some plant pathogens and diseases while they are present in a garden. Some species of Thrips live on fungal spores and pollen and are considered harmless for the host plants while some other species feed on some plant pests and mites that are beneficial for the green escape. They are capable of spreading with the wind and water splashes along with the infested stuff transported to your garden. If you are experiencing leaf stippling, discoloration and defoliation then its time to learn how to get rid of Thrips in your plants using some effective and powerful biological, organic and natural remedies;

How to kill thrips on plants?

#1 Neudorff BugFree (Chemical – Editors’ Choice)

BugFree is easy to use spray that contains pyrethrins and rapeseed oil at 0.045% and 8.25% respectively as its active ingredients. Pyrethrins are extracted from the flowers of the chrysanthemums that decompose rapidly on its exposure to air and sunlight that’s why it poses no threat to the environment or humans at all and is permitted to use in organic gardening. It works well against eggs, larva and mature insects altogether. This Thrips control spray performs well if sprayed in the evening.

#2 Dragonfli Thrip Killer sachets – (Amblyseius cucumeris) (Natural – Editors’ Choice)

Amblyseius cucumeris is tan-colored predatory mites that feed Thrips on plants when applied early during the growing season. They need almost 12 days to reach the adult stage that lasts for 30 days. Adult females may further lay up to 35 eggs during this period whereas it can eat 1 Thrips in a day.

As cucumeris need 3-4 weeks for its development in the garden, its release must be timely so that it can provide long control for another 3-4 weeks. Each sachet contains 1000 predatory mites and holds an easy release method.


Its active ingredient is Chitinase derived from the worm castings concentrate. It works on the chitin of the Thrips that stops further shedding their skin and die immediately on coming contact with Chitinase. It’s strong against the Thrips while no harm to the garden plants. It’s purely organic control that is made from the red worms and provides you overnight strategy to get rid of Thrips in your edible greens and ornamental plants.

Simply point the spray aperture to the direction of infestation on your plants keeping a distance of 10 cm to give a concentrated burst. Liquid concentrate will leach down to the hiding places of Thrips and destroy them. Avoid applying if rain is expected as it reduces its efficacy to kill Thrips. Always apply in the evening and check with the dead Thrips the next morning by gently shaking the foliage. Putting a white sheet under foliage will yield the dead, that is gone.

#4 Doctor Zymes Eliminator Spray

Eliminator spray is composed of all naturally occurring materials combined with biologically stimulating ingredients using the fermentation process. Its main ingredient i.e. citric acid that works as contact poison kills Thrips that directly come under spray coverage along with other soft-bodied insects in your garden. Citric acid is considered to break down organic matter quickly that’s why Thrips eggs are broken down to organic matter before hatching takes place. It is considered a revolutionary green formula and best spray for Thrips in house and Thrips on plants as well. Moreover, due to organic listing, it can be sprayed till the day of the harvest on your garden plants. Eliminator doesn’t block stomatal openings on leaves that lead to more photosynthesis and enhance the yield of your edible greens.

Add 4 ounces of Eliminator Spray in 1 gallon of warm water using a power sprayer and completely wash your plants from upside down. No need to add any other insecticide or adjuvant while making mixtures for spray.

#5 City Hydroponics Spray and Grow Thrips Killer

This is a foliar spray that contains additional nutrients along with the killing properties of insecticide derived from different plant extracts and is considered best to kill Thrips on hibiscus and other edible plants. It is safe to use during all growth stages of the plants that ensure healthy and pest free plants in your garden. Foliar nutrients give a boost to the garden greens and edibles while essential salts of fatty acid kill Thrips biologically.

Add 25 ml of this solution in 1 liter of water and apply on the entire foliage of the plants using a mist sprayer.

#6 RHS- Bug & Mildew Control

It’s a pesticide-free ready to use spray that contains the blend of different surfactants and adjuvants that adhere thrips with the surface of the leaf, unable to move and die of starvation. It also works great against aphids, whiteflies and spider mites in the edible gardens. It also kills thrips in soil that tends to cling to the stem or shoots of the plants to reach on plant foliage. Due to its adherence qualities, it becomes a popular choice for organic gardeners to use on fruits, vegetables, and flowers. It also contains nutrients necessary to bloom and flourish flowers. No harvest interval is needed after its application on the edible greens.

#7 Bonide Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew

This product contains Spinosad derived from the bacteria that naturally occur in the soil. It performs well on the variety of pests including but not limited to whiteflies, aphids, codling moth, caterpillars and especially Thrips. It can be used on the variety of fruits, vegetables, and ornamentals but have certain limitations to use on microgreens and short tenure vegetables due to some residual effects that may prolong for many days after its use.

Complete coverage is needed both in the upper and lower plant foliage. Simply connect the garden hose with the concentrate bottle and follow the instruction on the label. Spraying is advised on the first sighting of the Thrips in any garden.

What are Thrips?

Bodies of most of the adults are often slender and elongate measuring less than 1/20th of inch bearing long threads on the edges of both pairs of long and narrow wings. Larvae are slender or elliptical without the formation of wings. Their color ranges from semi-transparent to white, yellow to brown and black in different species. More than 6000 species have been reported so far in different parts of the world.

What do Thrips look like?

Thrips are tiny, slender, sucking insects having fringed wings and feed on the outer layer of small leaves, tender shoots and flowers causing stippling on the upper surface of the leaves besides silvering of the lower surface of the leaves. Their color ranges from semi-transparent to white, yellow to brown and black in different species.

Where do thrips come from?

Adults feed on the pollens in the flower and the lower surface of the leaves where females lay down their elongated and kidney-shaped eggs on the leaves, curvatures and on the buds of the plant. Most of the eggs drop on the soil or within crevices where hatching takes place. Under favorable conditions, there are almost 8 generations in a year. Thrips overwinter on organic litter or debris to start reproducing upon getting favorable conditions. Some thrips come from the newly arrived nursery stuff while others through winds and rain splash in your garden.

Are Thrips harmful?

Thrips are associated with transmitting different plant viruses by feeding on your edible garden and microgreens. Topsoviruses being common among 20 virus transmitted diseases on vegetables especially Tomatoes. Besides sucking sap from the leaves and tender shoots they cause discoloration and defoliation of the leaves and de-shape the fruits and vegetables infested. This fear is more prominent when the plants are in a younger stage. Upon heavy infestations, there is a fear that they might bite you but it just causes a minor skin irritation that doesn’t last long.

How to get rid of thrips naturally?

#8 Garden Safe ASDFFG Neem Oil Extract Concentrate

This is a botanically derived formula that contains Azadirachtin in 70% Neem oil extract that works fine against Thrips, spider mites, and Aphids along with strong control over the fungi borne diseases. It’s organic and safe on all edible greens to the day of harvest. Moreover, it holds longevity in control and can be repeated without any harmful effects on the edibles.

Put 1 ounce of concentrate in 1 gallon of water and thoroughly wet plant foliage using a mist sprayer in the evening. Apply water to the plants immediately after spraying to avoid any sort of physiological stress on the leaves.

#9 Sticky Thrip Leafminer Traps

Sticky traps are the best natural way to control infestations of Thrips on your garden plants. Hang these traps at the level of plant foliage by keeping a distance of 7 feet between the traps. Traps can also be placed at the start and end of every row in your garden. Avoid them from getting dirt or replace if the infestations caught is too high to stick more insects. This is fairly cheaper and one of the best natural ways to control Thrips on all edible plants in your garden.

Coldwater treatment

Thrips infest your garden plants when the temperature is fairly high around 77°F or above and relative humidity is comparatively low. This is the time to give a burst of chilled water from the undersides of the leaves to wash Thrips away. Large scale commercial farmers often adopt this practice during the hot summer days when the infestations are high during the early stages of crop growth. This natural phenomenon works significantly well and proven across the commercial farming systems while practicing at a small scale can be more fruitful for the home gardeners. And, another option is to wait for a good rain to wash them away from your edible plants.

#10 Green Cross Isopropyl Alcohol (70%)

Isopropyl Alcohol or Rubbing Alcohol does a good job against all soft-bodied insects if you are afraid of applying insecticides to your edible greens and want to stay organic. Rubbing Alcohol contains 70% Ethanol that works on the Chitin of the insects on the exoskeleton. The melting of the chitin results in the killing of the insects as they lose the ability to molt hence die of starvation. It is necessary that the Water-Alcohol solution reach the hiding places of the insects on plants. For this reason, you need to wash your plants thoroughly using a pressure hand-Sprayer.

Add 1 part of Rubbing Alcohol to 4 parts of water and spray your plants in the evening avoiding the sensitive indoor plants. You may repeat spray after consecutive days if the infestations prolong. Furthermore, alcohol spray also destroys eggs of the Thrips lay down in the crevices of your edible plants.

#11 Harris Diatomaceous Earth (DE) food grade

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is derived from the tiny, fossilized aquatic organisms that contain several tiny pores while the insects consider these pores as their hiding place on the plants. Once they are inside DE they can’t move out as their skin tangles inside pores that don’t let Thrips come out of this stuff. The result is the restriction in their feeding that kills them at the spot where they were stuck.

Simply pour this fine mesh on the floral parts of the plants and wait for them to attack your plants. This is another best organic solution to prevent Thrips attack on your plants.

Besides working on the number of organic, natural and biological control, few cultural practices are necessary to keep your edible plants free from the infestations of the Thrips in your garden space. These practices will help you minimize all-time Thrips infestations whether you stay organic or natural;

How to prevent Thrips infestation on your plants?

– Prune and destroy leaves that are more infested with Thrips if you are growing a limited or small amount of plants in your garden.

– Control weeds and plant debris in the corners of the garden or at neglected areas of your garden because weeds serve as the alternate host of Thrips.

– Grow only those plants that are well-adapted to the climatic conditions of your garden.

– Work on the plant vigor and health by feeding them with balanced essential nutrients and fertilizers while the over-fertilizing with nitrogen may bring more infestation. Whereas, thrips damages are more often on the stressed plants.

– Try to manage fair intervals while irrigating your plants. Long irrigation gap brings dryness, more favorable for Thrips infestation.

– Apply reflective mulch or ribbons to deter Thrips flying on your plants.

A common pest found in greenhouses and indoor/ outdoor gardens, thrips damage plants by sucking their juices and scraping at fruits, flowers and leaves. Plant leaves may turn pale, splotchy, and silvery, then die. Injured plants are twisted, discolored and scarred.

Adults are very small (less than 1/25 inch) straw-colored or black slender insects with two pairs of feathery wings. Without the use of a hand lens, they resemble tiny dark threads.


Extremely active, thrips feed in large groups. They leap or fly away when disturbed. Host plants include onions, beans, carrots, squash and many other garden vegetables, and many flowers, especially gladioli and roses. Both adults and the wingless larvae are attracted to white, yellow and other light colored blossoms and are responsible for spreading tomato spotted wilt virus and impatiens necrotic spot virus.

Life Cycle

Adults and pupae overwinter in garden soil. In spring, newly emerged females insert eggs into the tissues of flowers, leaves or stems. (They do not need to mate for reproduction.) Each female can produce up to 80 eggs, which hatch within days in warm weather or weeks to months in colder weather. They become wingless larvae (nymphs), which feed on plant sap. After two or more nymphal stages, many thrips drop to the soil to pupate. Emerging adults fly to the plant and repeat the cycle. There may be 12-15 generations per year with the entire cycle from egg to adult requiring less than 16 days in warm weather.


Thrip management is a matter of garden maintenance — reducing the places where thrips may breed — and requires removing plant debris while it’s still on the ground and green. Thrips lay their eggs in slits they cut in live plant stems. Vigilance — spotting problems early and responding to them — is also required. Check your plants for damage and clusters of the pests at the place where leaves are attached to stems. Don’t wait to take action. Take the measures listed below. And be sure to use the safest, most proven products.

  1. To get rid of thrips remove weeds and grass from around garden areas to eliminate alternate hosts. Clean up crop debris in the garden, especially onion leaves after harvest. (Dry mulch will not attract thrips. Green mulch will.)
  2. Inspect all plants you import into the garden for signs of thrips or their damage. Discard any infested plants by securely bagging and putting in the trash.
  3. Blue sticky traps are helpful for monitoring adult populations.
  4. If found, use the Bug Blaster to hose off plants with a strong, encompassing spray of water to reduce pest numbers.
  5. Release commercially available beneficial insects, such as minute pirate bugs, the effective thrips predator (feeds on eggs and larvae before they can become adults), ladybugs, and lacewing, (especially effective in green houses) to attack and destroy all stages of this pest. For best results, make releases after first knocking down severe infestations with water spray or other method.
  6. BotaniGard ES is a highly effective biological insecticide containing Beauveria bassiana, an entomopathogenic fungus that attacks a long-list of troublesome crop pests – even resistant strains! Weekly applications can prevent insect population explosions and provide protection equal to or better than conventional chemical pesticides.
  7. Severe populations may require a least-toxic, short-lived botanical insecticide (pyrethrin) to reduce pest numbers. Follow-up with predatory insects to maintain control.
  8. Safe, smothering insecticidal soaps made from naturally occurring plant oils and fats, are also effective for knocking down heavy infestations (and won’t harm most naturally occurring beneficial insects). Spinosad and neem oil can be used to spot treat heavily infested areas.

Tip: Thorough coverage is necessary when using natural contact insecticides, especially on the undersides of leaves and where leaves attach to stems, a favorite place for thrips to congregate.

Pesticides and Insecticides

Agricultural products and services are flooded with a vast list of products, which can fulfill your requirements very quickly. Also making sure that the insects, pests, bugs, termites, and spiders don’t get sticky to your sincere grown-ups. For which, the manufacturer offers a wide range of products that are available in the market. However, there is something that you cannot afford to happen. These products are constituted with a large number of chemicals and other things that are hazardous to your plantation and crops. Also making the roots weaker and not able to sustain, with the effects of the product.

For achieving the sigh of relief, some of the leading business companies have introduced organic and natural remedies for the benefit of various areas. Since the whole system is based upon the use of harmless constituents, which can fulfill your needs of growing the natural products. That too, without any kind of trouble related to your health or surroundings. How to kill thrips naturally, is no longer a matter of concern for you. Now, you can stay assured and satisfied with the quality of the most secure and effective product range.

Organic Models Are Blessings

Technology has brought changes in every industry, and it’s not restricted to anything. Now, you can simply avail the affordable benefits of the natural remedies for better conditions of your crops and plantation. In fact, changes have also increased the growth to a considerable extent. So that you can get the best possible revenue, output and return quicker than expected. The manufacturers are introducing various types of product, depending upon your requirements and the weather conditions. So that you can easily earn a lot of money and satisfaction while working dedicatedly.

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Previously mentioned, how to kill thrips to safeguard your crops and plant. Now, you can be sure to make it work successfully on natural remedies. Since most of the products composed are prepared with natural ingredients, that are tried and tested by the experts of the industry. Neem is one of the most useful and effective ingredients, which is quite helpful to assist you in how to get rid of thrips naturally. It doesn’t kill the good nutrients of plants and does not affect adversely, on the environment also.

Breeding of Thrips

Since various insects and pests breed in muddy, watery, untidy and weedy surrounding areas. It is always advisable to not to let it happen but keep your area clean and tidy. Normally, it doesn’t happen as you have to take care of different aspects to make it realistic. However, Healthy environmental conditions are all the more impressive and important. Not only for you or your family members but also for the nature to adapt in the most appropriate manner. For which, you must take considerable steps to ensure that you are being served in the best health condition.

It is not necessary that the thrips and bugs adapt in gardens or fields. Since there are so many places, where these small insects and bugs can breed easily. So, you have to be conscious about it and plan how to get rid of thrips around the pool; along with other expected places to breed. You must make proper arrangements for the cleaning of the place, on a regular basis. Also making sure, that the required quantity of insecticides and pesticides are sprayed at periodic intervals. In order to make sure that the adaptation of thrips, bugs, termites, and spiders doesn’t get favorable climate and conditions of the environment.

Control, Don’t Kill

Don’t feel shocked to read. You need to understand that how it works. Like, oxygen and carbon dioxide are an equally important portion of your life. Similarly, thrips and other pests are good and bad for your concern. Controlling thrips in the garden and fields is essential. Since you need not kill these soft-bodied creatures altogether. As they prove to be the good thing also, for the growth of your plants and leaves. However, that completely depends upon the species of the thrips. So, you must start using the mild soapy detergents and cleaners initially. In order to make sure that further breeding doesn’t happen.

Leading manufacturers of the most wanted industry are selling different products, that can be used to control the emergence of the thrips and various other small creatures. Since you do not need to be dependent upon the chemicals anymore. You can simply order and use the natural remedies, which consists of organic ingredients and essential oils for the health of your plants. These are not only meant to save your garden from the attack of the thrips. But also helpful, for the increasing growth of the plants and yields.

Solutions and Distinctive Remedies

Nowadays, everyone wants to achieve the maximum possible solutions for every issue. In addition, to which, affordable prices and discounts have become a vital part of every deal. It is a good idea for you to research and select the best available organic pesticides through the online store, which can offer you a lot of discounts and promotions for you to be benefitted. Agriculture and gardens need full-time care and growth, that can easily be achieved by using the right strategy and modern products specifically prepared for the purpose. It is always better to not to choose the products, without research and reviews. Since there are so many fake and illegal products prevalent in the market. So, you need to be serious and alert while making the right decision for your concern.

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You must follow the Stepwise strategy to make sure that you are going in the right way. That makes you feel more comfortable and satisfied while ordering the desired products. First of all, you can simply keep your plants and surroundings clean and clear. So that, there are fewer chances for the breeding of unwanted creatures. Secondly, provide your plantation and vegetation with the right quantity of water and manures; depending upon the advice of the experts. Lastly, keep spraying the best available organic pesticides solution at regular intervals. Also making sure that the product used is mild in nature and not so strong enough to kill the roots of your plants, along with the pests and bugs.

Effective Use Matters

How to get rid of thrips around you, can be managed easily now. Since you do not have to worry about the chemical composition and the damage occurred due to the same. It is no more than a history for you, as you can simply visit the renowned websites for looking at the availability of the naturally prepared concentrate; which serves your purpose at best. Also making sure that you can achieve the remarkable growth of the plants and vegetation, whichever you choose to grow. You can choose from the wide variety of products and stay assured for a longer time period.

Now, you can simply start using the organic way to grow your yields and take significant precautions to protect your plants from the attack of unwanted threats. It makes your life easier and better, without any kind of trouble related to your crops and garden environment. You can spray and spread the natural solutions for the future of nature so that you can prevent your surroundings from any kind of negative effects. Since harmless products do not cause any problems to the health of human beings and plants, being nature-friendly. This is a great way to spend less time and money, yet receive the maximum results and contention.

What are Thrips? Thrips are tiny insects about 1/20 of an inch, with over 5,000 species. Some with no wings, the winged species have fringed wings.

Their asymmetrical mouthparts with a mandible a little bit longer than the other. Some species puncture the outer layers of plants using their mouthparts to extract sap. The other species pierce the skin of other insects to extract body fluids.

Thrips Their Behaviors, Habits And Dieting Methods?

Those feeding on plants bring a lot of damage to crops. Once they extract the sap, plants show signs of thrips damage such as black skin and numerous deformities.

Thrips also lay their eggs on crops or fruits causing discolorations to the affected part. They can also mar flowers as well as spread various plant diseases such as the tomato spotted wilt virus and necrotic spot virus.

Most consider these garden pests problematic because their dieting habits destroy numerous commercial crops. The flower thrips usually swarm very fast and reproduce very fast in areas lots of flowers and crops. They can also invade homes, especially potted plants.

Keep in mind some thrips species can bite humans. If the pest population isn’t controlled it can affect the reproduction ability of flowering plants.

Learn more about –> Controlling Thrips on Roses

Controlling Thrips With Natural Solutions

Once these pests attack your crops, the damage can’t go away. However, natural solutions can be applied to control thrips or prevent them from attacking anything else in the garden.

Removing The Infected Plant

It can take a while to get rid of these tiny pests after they’ve done their plant damage. First, consider removing the infected plant, it’s not going to get better.

On the other hand, you can replace it with another plant not susceptible to thrips. Also, if you’re planning on replanting the same variety of crops, consider springing for a biological control or natural enemies of pest, Hypoaspis Miles a beneficial mite that feeds on fungus gnats, springtails, thrips pupae, and other small insects in the soil. Or Neoseiulus Cucumeris a predatory mite.

Remove Infected Leaves

Once they attack a particular plant, thrips spend some part of their life cycle in the affected leaves. If you notice any severe damage on your plans, remove the affected leaves to control the population. You can always keep the new leaves from getting hurt since the damaged ones can’t recover.

Pyrethrum Spray

Usually very active during summer, control an infestation, with a pyrethrum spray extracted from chrysanthemums. Apply the pyrethrum spray once a week for 3 weeks. The first application will kill the adult thrips while the second one will get any recently hatched babies. The last spray application will clean out any leftovers.

Note: The spray will harm other pests in the garden as well, this includes beneficial insects or natural predators such as the predatory mites. Keep in mind it can also harm you if sprayed in a large quantity. However, the toxicity levels of the active ingredient decrease immediately after spraying, allowing the beneficial insects to come back without any effect.

Spinosad Spray

This new spray released into the market comes brewed from soil bacteria in the Caribbean. An extremely useful method of handling thrips, but is also mildly toxic to birds and humans.

Besides being so effective Spinosad spray carries some limitations, as it kills larvae and caterpillars after application for about a month. Therefore, if you have plants with butterfly nests, consider using the pyrethrum spray as an alternative to this one.

Always spray pests when they are very active usually summer and coat the whole plant with the spray. Start with the undersides, move to the center of the plant then move outwards to coat the top part of the leaves. Make a point of spraying in the morning or before dusk to allow the spray to dry before the bees become active. Always wear protective gear when handling the spray to prevent any toxicity.

NOTE: Systemic insecticides do not significantly affect thrips in the flowers.

How To Prevent Re-Infestation

If thrips come back after using the organic pest control methods consider using the following measures. Care for your soil by watering plants regularly and applying mulch. Rake up fallen leaves and remove any litter near the plants. Also, remove damaged leaves from susceptible plants and avoid over-fertilizing your plants.

Greenhouse thrips can attack many plants but primarily enjoys evergreen, broad-leaved perennials. They’re found mainly on the underside of leaves and on fruit clusters or other plant parts that touch each other. Greenhouse thrips are sluggish, and adults tend not to fly.

Individuals feed in groups and populations usually begin in a limited part of the plant and spread slowly. Regularly inspect the underside of leaves on susceptible plants for early detection. Remove new infestations, pruning off colonies can be effective.

How to Manage Pests

Pests in Gardens and Landscapes


Revised 5/14

In this Guideline:

  • Identification
  • Life cycle
  • Damage
  • Management
  • About Pest Notes
  • Publication
  • Glossary

Stippling as result of greenhouse thrips feeding.

Black feces and white feeding scars from thrips.

An adult, egg, and two larvae of Cuban laurel thrips.

Euseius predatory mite attacking thrips.

Greenhouse thrips larvae (yellow) with black pupae and adult of the Thripobius parasitic wasp.

Thrips, order Thysanoptera, are tiny, slender insects with fringed wings. They feed by puncturing the epidermal (outer) layer of host tissue and sucking out the cell contents, which results in stippling, discolored flecking, or silvering of the leaf surface. Thrips feeding is usually accompanied by black varnishlike flecks of frass (excrement). Pest species are plant feeders that discolor and scar leaf, flower, and fruit surfaces, and distort plant parts or vector plant pathogens. Many species of thrips feed on fungal spores and pollen and are often innocuous. However, pollen feeding on plants such as orchids and African violets can leave unsightly pollen deposits and may reduce flower longevity. Certain thrips are beneficial predators that feed on other insects and mites.

Thrips can readily move long distances floating with the wind or transported on infested plants, and exotic species are periodically introduced. For example, myoporum thrips causes severe galling of Myoporum laetum and M. pacificum. Originally from New Zealand, this thrips was introduced into Southern California and spread to most areas of the state where its hosts are grown. See Pest Note: Myoporum Thrips for more information.


Most adult thrips are elongate, slender, minute (less than 1/20 inch long), and have long fringes on the margins of both pairs of their long, narrow wings. Immatures (called larvae or nymphs) are oblong or slender and elongate and lack wings. Most thrips range in color from translucent white or yellowish to dark brown or black. A few species are brightly colored, such as the distinctive reddish-orange larvae of the predatory thrips, Franklinothrips orizabensis and F. vespiformis.

Feeding results in various tissue responses, including scar formation and distorted growth. Behavior, body appearance, and host plants help to distinguish among thrips species (Table 1). For example, three dark spots on each forewing distinguish the adult predaceous sixspotted thrips from pest thrips. Adults of western flower thrips and onion thrips are noticeably larger than avocado and citrus thrips adults, so mature body size helps to distinguish them when they occur together on the same host plant. Nonprofessionals may be able to identify thrips using the resources listed in References. However, thrips can be positively identified to species only by an expert. Fortunately, most thrips are susceptible to some of the same controls, such as exclusion and certain insecticides.

It is more important to distinguish among thrips species in situations where integrated pest management methods are used. For example, each species of natural enemy preys on and helps to control only certain species of thrips or other pests. Certain thrips occur on many different plants but damage only a few of the plant species on which they are found. Identifying the species of thrips may reveal that it is harmless in certain situations and no control action is needed. For example, avocado thrips and greenhouse thrips superficially scar avocado fruit skin. Citrus thrips and western flower thrips are also found in avocado but do not damage avocados. Citrus thrips occur on many species of plants but damage only blueberries and citrus.


Thrips hatch from an egg and develop through two actively feeding larval stages and two nonfeeding stages, the prepupa and pupa, before becoming an adult. Late-instar larvae change greatly in appearance and behavior and are called prepupae and pupae, even though thrips do not have a true pupal stage.

Females of most plant-feeding species lay their elongate, cylindrical to kidney-shaped eggs on or into leaves, buds, or other locations where larvae feed. The pale prepupae and pupae of most species drop to the soil or leaf litter or lodge within plant crevices or galls. Greenhouse thrips pupate openly on lower leaf surfaces; while pupae (and eggs) of some gall-making species, such as Cuban laurel thrips and myoporum thrips, occur on leaf surfaces but are enclosed within distorted plant tissue. Thrips have several generations (up to about eight) a year. When the weather is warm, the life cycle from egg to adult may be completed in as short a time as 2 weeks.


Thrips feeding on plants can damage fruit, leaves, and shoots and very noticeably affect plants’ cosmetic appearance. However, thrips rarely kill or threaten the survival of trees and shrubs. Herbaceous ornamentals, and certain vegetable crops, are more susceptible to serious injury from thrips feeding and thrips-vectored viruses, especially when plants are young.

Thrips feeding can stunt plant growth and cause damaged leaves to become papery and distorted, develop tiny pale spots (stippling), and drop prematurely. Infested terminals may discolor and become rolled. Petals may exhibit “color break,” which is pale or dark discoloring of petal tissue that was killed by thrips feeding before buds opened. On some plants thrips can cause severe stunting to the early season flush of terminal growth. Cuban laurel thrips create tightly rolled, podlike leaf terminals on Ficus and form galled foliage from midsummer through fall. Myoporum thrips can create tightly bunched and twisted terminal growth that resembles a gall, within which large numbers of thrips can survive and reproduce.

Western flower thrips is primarily a pest of herbaceous plants; but high populations can damage flowers on woody plants, such as roses. Rose petals may develop dark streaks and spots from feeding injury that occurred before the buds opened, or the flower buds may deform and fail to open. Western flower thrips also vectors Impatiens necrotic spot virus and Tomato spotted wilt virus, which can severely damage or kill certain vegetable crops and herbaceous ornamentals.

Thrips cause brown to silvery, scabby scarring on the avocado and citrus fruit surface but do not harm the internal quality or flavor of the fruit. Where thrips lay eggs on grapes, fruit may develop dark scars surrounded by lighter “halos.” Thrips feeding on apples, nectarines, and raspberries can deform or scar developing fruit. Citrus thrips feeding severely distorts blueberry shoot tips and foliage, reducing fruit yield.

In many thrips species, by the time their damage is observed, such as after buds open, the thrips may no longer be present. Some abiotic disorders, pathogens, and certain other invertebrates can cause damage resembling that of thrips. For example, various true bugs and mites also stipple foliage; and some true bugs produce dark fecal specks. Before taking control action, look carefully for the insects themselves to be certain that pest thrips are present and the cause of the damage.


Thrips are difficult to control. If management is necessary, use an integrated program that combines the use of good cultural practices, natural enemies, and the most selective or least-toxic insecticides that are effective in that situation.


If thrips are a suspected cause of plant damage, thrips adults and larvae can be monitored by branch beating or gently shaking foliage or flowers onto a light-colored sheet of paper, beating tray, or small cloth. For thrips that feed in buds or unexpanded shoot tips, clip off several plant parts suspected of harboring thrips, place them in a jar with 70% alcohol (ethanol), and shake vigorously to dislodge the thrips. Strain the solution through filter paper so thrips can more readily be seen. Watch the online video demonstration of this technique.

Adult thrips can also be monitored by hanging bright yellow sticky traps in or near host plants.

Be aware that the presence of thrips does not mean that damage will result from their feeding. Large numbers of thrips in traps, or adults in flowers feeding on pollen, do not necessarily indicate that control action is needed. Plants suspected of being infected by thrips-vectored viruses can be reliably diagnosed only by sending properly collected samples from symptomatic plants to a laboratory that tests for plant pathogens.

Biological Control

Predatory thrips (Table 2), green lacewings, minute pirate bugs, mites, and certain parasitic wasps help to control plant-feeding thrips. To conserve and encourage naturally occurring populations of these beneficials, avoid creating dust and consider periodically rinsing dust off of small plants, avoid persistent pesticides, and grow a diversity of plant species.

Where thrips are a problem, learn whether that pest has specific natural enemies important in its control. For example, a minute pirate bug, Macrotracheliella nigra, and green lacewing larvae are important predators of Cuban laurel thrips. Euseius species mites are important predators of citrus thrips. With greenhouse thrips in Southern California up to 50% of its eggs are killed by a tiny wasp, Megaphragma mymaripenne. After feeding inside during its larval stage then pupating, the emerging adult parasite leaves a relatively large round hole in the tiny thrips egg. Conversely, when a greenhouse thrips emerges from an unparasitized egg, part of the egg shell is often visible at the side of the egg blister. Thripobius semiluteus parasitizes greenhouse thrips larvae. Thrips parasitized by this wasp’s larvae become swollen around the head and turn black, in contrast to the pale color of unparasitized greenhouse thrips larvae. Unlike healthy black mature thrips, the black parasitized larvae are smaller and do not move.

There is little research-based information on the effectiveness of releasing thrips natural enemies in gardens and landscapes. Releasing purchased natural enemies, in most situations, is unlikely to provide satisfactory thrips control.

Cultural Control

Thrips species that feed on many different plant species often move into gardens and landscapes when plants in weedy areas or grasslands begin to dry in spring or summer. Avoid planting susceptible plants next to these areas, and control nearby weeds that are alternate hosts of pest thrips. Grow plants that are well-adapted to conditions at that site. For example, plants adapted to grow in full sun can be stressed when planted in shady conditions and may be more susceptible to thrips damage. Provide appropriate cultural care to keep plants vigorous and increase their tolerance to thrips damage. Keep plants well irrigated, and avoid excessive applications of nitrogen fertilizer, which may promote higher populations of thrips. Old, spent flowers can harbor thrips, so their removal and disposal is sometimes recommended. However, the general benefit of this practice in landscapes is unknown; and old blossoms also commonly shelter beneficial predators of thrips.

Investigate the availability of resistant cultivars. For example, western flower thrips more often damages fragrant, light-colored, or white roses. Rose cultivars, with sepals that remain tightly wrapped around the bud until just before blooms open, have fewer thrips problems. Where Cuban laurel thrips is a problem on Indian laurel fig you can plant Ficus microcarpa, “Green Gem,” which is mostly resistant to this pest.


Prune and destroy injured and infested terminals when managing a few small specimen plants in the landscape. Avoid shearing plants, which is the clipping of dense foliage to maintain an even surface on formal hedges or creating specific shapes (topiary). Shearing stimulates thrips-susceptible new growth. Prune by cutting plants just above branch crotches and nodes instead of shearing off terminals.

Prune during specific times of the year to help control certain thrips. Prune off galled, rolled terminals of Indian laurel fig during winter to greatly reduce thrips damage the next summer. Relatively few Cuban laurel thrips can survive the winter outside of the protection provided by the leaves they gall. Instead of pruning avocado during February through April, January pruning may reduce thrips scarring of fruit. January pruning can induce additional avocado growth flush during May fruit set and reduce thrips scarring of fruit. When succulent foliage is abundant in spring thrips tend to remain and feed on leaves and not move to fruit. Pruning the interior of citrus trees can increase predaceous mite populations in the exterior canopy, thereby reducing fruit scarring by citrus thrips.

Row Covers

Row covers, hot caps, and other types of cages with a fine mesh can exclude thrips and other insects from vegetables and other young herbaceous plants. Apply row covers before crops emerge or to pest-free plants during planting. Plants are normally covered or caged only while they are young and most susceptible to damage. Once plants become larger or temperatures get warmer, remove covers to provide enough growing space and to prevent overheating. Drip or furrow irrigation is generally necessary when using row covers.

Any type of covering that excludes insects but allows light and air penetration can be used. With sturdy crops that do not grow too tall, floating row covers (vented polyethylene, spunbonded polyester, point-bonded polypropylene) can be placed on top of beds with no frames or hoops. The crop itself lifts the fabric as it grows. For plants that grow upright or have sensitive tips that might be damaged when pushing against covers, use hoops, plastic tunnels, or wire strung between posts to hold up covers. Wood, wire, or plastic frames covered with muslin, nylon, or other fine mesh can be used for several years.

Reflective Mulch

Mulch or mesh that reflects light interferes with certain flying insects’ ability to locate plants. If the plants are initially pest-free, and relatively small in comparison with the surface area that is covered with reflective material, reflective mulch can delay or reduce the extent to which young plants become infested by winged aphids and adult leafhoppers, thrips, and whiteflies. In flower and vegetable crops that are especially sensitive to insect-vectored viruses, the cost and effort of using reflective mulch may be justified; because the mulch can be significantly more effective than insecticides in preventing or delaying infection of small plants. As plants grow larger, reflective mulch becomes increasingly less effective and other management methods may be needed. Reflective mulch ceases to repel insects by the time the plant canopy covers more than about half of the soil surface.

Silver or gray is the most effective color for synthetic reflective mulch or mesh, but white also works. Some organic mulches (e.g., straw) and living mulches (e.g., interplanting the crop with buckwheat, Fagopyrum esculentum) may also repel certain pests, but this is not as well documented. Commercially available synthetics include aluminum-metalized polyethylene and silver-embossed polyethylene plastic films. If handled carefully, these may be used for more than one season. Aluminum foil is also effective and may be suitable for a small garden; but it is expensive and difficult to reuse because it is delicate to handle.

Synthetic mulch application methods include:

  • Transplant seedlings through holes in the mulch.
  • Apply the mulch before plants emerge from the soil and leave a narrow, mulch-free strip along the planting row.
  • Lay lightweight material that allows light and air penetration over the top of a crop that is sturdy enough to lift the material as it grows.

In addition to temporarily repelling certain flying insects, mulch may improve growth of certain crops by increasing light levels, keeping soil warmer overnight, reducing weed growth, and conserving soil moisture. Mulch can also have negative effects. It can increase crop susceptibility to root diseases, prevent the use of overhead watering, and make it more difficult to know whether you are maintaining proper soil moisture in the rooting zone of a plant. Most recyclers will not accept plastics with soil on them; therefore, plastic mulches typically are disposed of in landfills. Investigate which material and methods are likely to work best in your situation.

Chemical Control

Although thrips damage is unsightly, it does not usually warrant the use of insecticides in gardens and landscapes. Feeding injury typically does not become apparent until after tissue grows and expands. Thus, by the time damage is noticed on ripening fruit or distorted terminals, the thrips that caused the damage are often gone. No pesticide application will restore the appearance of injured tissue; plants will remain damaged until leaves drop, injury is pruned off, or new unblemished fruit is produced. Where plant viruses are a problem, insecticides typically do not kill thrips fast enough to prevent the transfer of virus from thrips to plants. Using row covers or other methods to prevent thrips infestation is the most effective way to prevent infection by thrips-vectored viruses.

Thrips can be difficult to control effectively with insecticides, partly because of their mobility, feeding behavior, and protected egg and pupal stages. Improper timing of application, failure to treat the proper plant parts, and inadequate spray coverage when using contact materials are common mistakes that can prevent potentially effective insecticides from actually providing control. Before using a pesticide, learn more about the biology of your pest species and the characteristics of available products by reading the label and consulting the Active Ingredients Database in the online version of this Pest Note at Often you will learn chemical control cannot be effective until the next season, when new plant growth develops. Certain products are available only by hiring a professional applicator. If insecticides are used, combining their use with appropriate cultural practices and other methods usually improves the pest control.

Insecticides Most Compatible with IPM

Contact insecticides that do not leave persistent residues can be effective for greenhouse thrips and other species that feed openly on plants. These products have low toxicity to people, pets, and pollinators and relatively little adverse impact on biological pest control; because they do not leave toxic residues that would kill natural enemies migrating in after their application. Contact insecticides include azadirachtin (AzaMax, Safer Brand BioNeem), insecticidal soaps (Safer), narrow-range oil (Bonide Horticultural Oil, Monterey Horticultural Oil), neem oil (Green Light Neem, Schultz Garden Safe Brand Neem Oil), and pyrethrins, which many products combine with piperonyl butoxide (Ace Flower & Vegetable Insect Spray, Garden Tech Worry Free Brand Concentrate). To be effective, contact sprays must be applied to thoroughly cover buds, shoot tips, and other susceptible plant parts where thrips are present. On plants with a history of unacceptable damage, begin treatment early when thrips or their damage is first observed. Unless directed otherwise by the product label, periodically repeat the application as long as pest thrips and susceptible plant parts are both present.

Spinosad (Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew, Green Light Lawn & Garden Spray with Spinosad 2, Monterey Garden Insect Spray) is generally more effective against thrips than the products above. Spinosad lasts 1 week or more and moves short distances into sprayed tissue (has translaminar activity) to reach thrips feeding in protected plant parts. Adding horticultural oil to the spray mix can increase its persistence within plant tissue. This insecticide is a fermentation product of a naturally occurring bacterium, and certain formulations are organically acceptable. Spinosad can be toxic to certain natural enemies (e.g., predatory mites, syrphid fly larvae) and bees when sprayed and for about 1 day afterward; do not apply spinosad to plants that are flowering.

Insecticides More Toxic to Thrips and Beneficial Insects

Systemic insecticides are absorbed by one plant part (e.g., roots) and moved (translocated) to other plant parts. Trunk spray or injection of an effective, systemic, neonicotinoid insecticide can provide relatively rapid control. With soil drench or injection, there is a longer time delay between neonicotinoid application and insecticide action. Neonicotinoids vary in effectiveness for thrips control. For example, dinotefuran (Safari), available to professional applicators, can provide good control of thrips. Imidacloprid (Bayer Advanced Tree & Shrub Insect Control, Merit) commonly fails to provide satisfactory thrips control, and imidacloprid generally is not recommended for thrips.

Neonicotinoids have low, moderate, or severe adverse impact on natural enemies and pollinators varying with the product, situation, and the species and life stage of invertebrate. Neonicotinoid insecticides can translocate to flowers and may harm natural enemies and pollinators that feed on nectar and pollen. Delay systemic insecticide application until after plants have completed their seasonal flowering, unless the product label directs otherwise. Where the roots of nearby plants grow near treated plants, those other plants may also take up some of the soil-applied insecticide. Delay soil application, when possible, until after the nearby plants are also done flowering.

To avoid tree injury and potential spread of pathogens on contaminated tools, use a soil application or trunk spray whenever possible, instead of injecting or implanting trees with insecticide. Injecting or implanting trunks or roots injures trees, and it is difficult to repeatedly place insecticide at the proper depth. If injecting or implanting multiple trees, prevent the potential spread of pathogens on contaminated tools; before moving to work on each new tree, scrub any plant sap from tools or equipment that penetrate trees and disinfect them with a registered disinfectant (e.g., bleach). Avoid methods that cause large wounds, such as implants placed in holes drilled in trunks. Do not implant or inject roots or trunks more than once a year.

Insecticides to Avoid

The systemic organophosphate acephate (Lilly Miller Ready-to-Use Systemic, Orthene) is available for ornamental, nonfood plants. Avoid using it. Acephate can be highly toxic to natural enemies and pollinators and can cause spider mites to become abundant and damage plants after its application.

Avoid foliar sprays of other organophosphate insecticides (e.g., malathion), carbamates (carbaryl), or pyrethroids (e.g., bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, fluvalinate, and permethrin). These materials are highly toxic to natural enemies and pollinators, can cause spider mite outbreaks, and are not particularly effective against most thrips. Because their use in landscapes and gardens can run or wash off into storm drains and contaminate municipal wastewater, these insecticides are being found in surface water and are adversely affecting nontarget, aquatic organisms.

Greenhouse Thrips Management

Greenhouse thrips can infest many plant species but primarily is a pest of evergreen, broadleaved perennials. It occurs mainly on the underside of leaves and on fruit clusters or other plant parts that touch each other. Greenhouse thrips is sluggish and the adults tend not to fly. Individuals feed in groups and populations usually begin in a limited part of the plant and spread slowly. If the underside of leaves on susceptible plants are regularly inspected to allow early detection and removal of new infestations, pruning off colonies can be effective.

Greenhouse thrips is readily controlled with thorough application of contact sprays such as horticultural oil, natural pyrethrins (plus piperonyl butoxide), or insecticidal soaps to the underside of infested leaves. Repeat applications may be necessary. Keep in mind that greenhouse thrips have natural enemies in the landscape (discussed above). Assess whether spraying is warranted and select materials that are least toxic to natural enemies.

Table 1. Some Common Pest Thrips and Their Host Plants (see photos).

Thrips Appearance1
Common Name Scientific Name Host Plants Primary Damage Adults Larval Body
avocado thrips Scirtothrips perseae avocado scabby brown scars on fruit 3 red spots atop head, brown lines separating segments on pale yellow abdomen pale yellow
bean thrips Caliothrips fasciatus bean, occasionally other legumes brown, distorted leaf and seedling terminals blackish body with white wing bands yellow to orangish
citrus thrips Scirtothrips citri blueberries and citrus, generally not damaging to its many other hosts scabby silvery scars on citrus fruit; distorted blueberry leaves and shoots light orangish yellow to white body light orang- ish yellow to white
Cuban laurel thrips Gynaikothrips ficorum laurel fig or Indian laurel,
Ficus microcarpa
rolled, podlike, darkscarred terminals; galls blackish body yellowish to white
greenhouse thrips Heliothrips haemorrhoidalis mostly perennials with thick, broad leaves, including avocado, azalea, hypericum, laurel (English and Grecian), photinia, and rhododendron leaves bleached with black excrement on undersides; scabby fruit black body with pale wings white to yellowish
myoporum thrips Klambothrips myopori Myoporum laetum, M. pacificum leaves swollen, curled, and distorted; terminals galled black body early instars are white to yellowish, pupae are orangish
onion thrips Thrips tabaci vegetables including garlic, onion, and pepper; many herbaceous ornamentals where it’s usually not damaging stippled and scarred petals, leaves, and other plant parts; distorted terminals yellow to dark brown body yellow to orangish
toyon thrips Liothrips ilex Christmas berry or toyon crinkled, undersized, sometimes blackened terminal leaves black body with pale wings yellow
western flower thrips Frankliniella occidentalis many herbaceous ornamentals (impatiens, petunia); vegetables (cucurbits, pepper); fruits (grape, strawberry); some shrubs and trees (rose, stone fruit) stippled and scarred petals, leaves, and other plant parts; distorted terminals, vectors tospoviruses affecting herbaceous plants thick, bristlelike hairs at the tip of the abdomen; abdomen extends beyond wing tips at rest; individuals vary greatly in color yellow to orangish

1 Color does not reliably distinguish among thrips, which can be accurately identified to species only by an expert examination of microscopic characters.

Table 2. Some Common Beneficial Predatory Thrips (see photos).

Thrips Appearance
Common Name Scientific Name Where observed Adults Larvae
banded-wing thrips Aeolothrips spp.1 among pest mites and thrips black body, white wings with black bands yellow body
black hunter thrips Haplothrips mali 2 among mites, scales, and pest thrips dark brown or entirely black body with long abdomen, white wings, much more active than similar-looking greenhouse thrips dark, reddish-brown body
Franklinothrips or vespiform thrips Franklinothrips orizabensis,
F. vespiformis 1
among lace bugs, mites, and pest thrips mostly black body, with pale or white areas; distinctly narrow where abdomen meets thorax yellow to orange body, swollen abdomen with red or dark orange band, body more stout or oval-shaped than most thrips
sixspotted thrips Scolothrips sexmaculatus 3 in colonies of mites 3 dark blotches on each forewing, body pale to yellowish yellow to whitish body
Predatory thrips can sometimes be distinguished from pest species because predators are seldom seen at high levels as can be common with certain pest thrips.

Families: 1 Aeolothripidae; 2 Phlaeothripidae; 3 Thripidae


Bethke, J. A., and L. Bates. 2013. Pest Notes: Myoporum Thrips. Oakland: Univ. Calif. Agric. Nat. Res. Publ. 74165.

Hoddle, M. S., L. A. Mound, and D. Paris. 2008. Thrips of California 2012 (CD-ROM). Australia: The University of Queensland.

Moritz, G., C. A. O’Donnell, and M. Parrella. 2009. Pest Thrips of North America – associated with domestic and imported crops. Centre for Biological Information Technology, The University of Queensland. DVD ISBN 978-1-86499-940-2.


Pest Notes: Thrips

UC ANR Publication 7429

Produced by University of California Statewide IPM Program

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What are Thrips?

There are 7,400 species of thrips in the world and quite a few are serious pests of plants. Some of the more commonly known thrips are Greenhouse thrip (Heliothrips haemorrhoidalis), Western Flower Thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis) and Plague thrips (Thrips imaginis).

Thrips are 0.5mm – 15 mm long and range in colour from white through yellow and brown to black. Thrips generally have wings that are fringed but this can only be seen with magnification. Thrips attack the flowers, fruit and foliage of vegetable crops and ornamental plants. Roses, fruit trees, azaleas, gladioli and a variety of vegetables such as tomatoes, onions and beans all suffer from thrip attacks. They also feed on a wide range of weeds.

During hot weather, weeds dry up and the insects migrate to more attractive plants. Thrips lay eggs inside plant tissue and the pupae feed on plant juices. Thrips also lay eggs in unopened buds making it difficult to control the insect.

Thrips also spread plant viruses; for example tomato thrips and western flower thrips spread the tomato spotted wilt virus.


Thrips are small, slender insects that attack plants by draining them of their juices. These attacks give the plants’ leaves a mottled appearance and limit growth. Using Safer® Brand Insect Killing Soap will eliminate thrips and prevent them from sapping your plants’ vitality.

With the information below, you can identify thrips and learn how to get rid of these lawn and garden pests.

So… What’s a Thrip?

There are about 6,000 species of thrips around the world. Most thrips feed on plants by puncturing the outer skin of the plant and sucking out the fleshy contents. Some adults have wings, though those that do are not good at flying and they are often at the mercy of the wind.

Adult thrips are thin and tiny, often being no more than 1/25 of an inch in length. These insects are usually yellow, black or brown in color. Nymphs, the immature thrips, look like smaller versions of the adults and are typically yellow or pale green in color.

Reproduction Patterns of Thrips

In early spring, adults emerge from overwintering and lay eggs in the tissues of plants by cutting the plant open with their ovipositor.

After the eggs hatch – usually in a few days – the nymphs immediately begin eating. They continue to eat as the two-week molting process begins, but, by the fourth and fifth instar, feeding stops. Any time during this molting process is a good time to use Safer® Brand BioNEEM®, which will break the molting cycle and kill them in the process.

Due to their rapid reproduction rates, there can be up as many as 15 generations of thrips in one growing season. More importantly, many species can reproduce asexually, meaning they don’t need a mate.

Thrips live about 45 days and those that are born late in summer will go into diapause until the spring so the species can continue to thrive in the following spring.

Thrip’s Habitat

Thrips can be found in all regions of North America. Look for them in flower blossoms, under leaves and hiding in bark.

During the spring and summer, these pest insects infest the vegetables, flowers, flowering plants, fruit crops and trees as they feed. They can live in greenhouses throughout the year, where they can quickly reproduce into overwhelming numbers.

To survive the winter, these bugs bury themselves under the debris of plants (often material left over from harvesting) or find shelter underground.

Symptoms of Thrip Damage

Thrips attack plant tissue by sucking out the juices found inside. This activity often creates a mottled appearance on leaves, vegetables and fruit.

Here are some symptoms of thrip infestation:

  • Damaged leaves primarily have silver streaks
  • Damaged leaves have stippled appearance
  • Damaged leaves become papery
  • Discolored flower petals, especially on the tips
  • Darkened streaks on rose petals
  • Stunted and deformed buds and flowers
  • Scarred and scabby welts on the skins on citrus and avocado, often silvery
  • Scarred apples, nectarines and raspberries
  • Scarred grapes featuring light halos around the damage

Results of a Thrip Infestation

When there is a large enough infestation of thrips, the plant can be severely damaged – showing discoloration, scarring and deformity – but a plant will rarely perish as the result.

Fruits and vegetables will not be able to fully mature, and flowers and buds may turn brown and die.

In addition, certain types of thrips can spread fatal plant viruses, including the tomato spotted wilt or impatiens necrotic spot. Try using Safer® Brand Insect Killing Soap to prevent the infestation of thrips and keep your plants looking healthy all season long.

Thrips may also leave excrement on plants. Their frass looks like black, varnish-like flecks that stick to plants.

Plants Favored by Thrips

Thrips are not too picky about the plants they will feed from during their lifetime. In fact, they are known to target more than 500 plants. Here are some of the most common lawn and garden plants for thrips to infest.

  • Apples
  • Azaleas
  • Beans
  • Begonia
  • Cabbages
  • Carrots
  • Chives
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Dahlias
  • Daylilies
  • Figs
  • Gladiolus
  • Grapes
  • Houseplants
  • Impatiens
  • Irises
  • Nectarines
  • Onions
  • Peas
  • Peonies
  • Photinias
  • Potatoes
  • Raspberries
  • Rhododendrons
  • Roses
  • Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Viburnums

Controls for Thrips

Thrips can be a difficult lawn and garden pest to control. These small insects can quickly overwhelm a garden and should be dealt with as soon as they’re discovered.


Insecticidal soap and neem oil are popular treatments for thrips. Try OMRI Listed® Safer® Brand Insect Killing Soap or Safer® Brand End ALL® with Neem Oil to control these soft-bodied garden insects.

How Do Thrip Control Methods Work?

Insecticidal soap, made from potassium salt of fatty acids, works by penetrating and destroying the outer shell or membrane of the insect. This action causes the insect to dehydrate and die.

Neem oil products work by suffocating the insect. Remember that when using Neem oil products, there is greater risk of phototoxicity (burning). Avoid using sulfur based fungicides within the active period (5 to 7 days) of the neem oil product.

Warning: Using these two products together can greatly increase the risk of plant burn.

When Should You Begin Thrip Control?

Since Safer® Brand Insect Killing Soap and Safer® Brand End ALL® are contact killers and they do not persist in the environment, several applications may be needed for full thrip control. As a general rule, much like watering, do not use these OMRI Listed® products in the peak of the day or when temperatures exceed 90 degrees F to avoid wilting or browning of the leaves.

Another option for thrip control is to encourage thrip predators, which will stalk and devour these garden pests

Natural enemies of the thrip include lady beetles, parasitic wasps and lacewings. These insects, partnered with a product such as Safer® Brand BioNEEM® are ideal to help control thrip infestations in your garden.


Lady beetles, parasitic wasps and lacewings will hunt and kill thrips without hurting your plants. When coupled with applications of BioNEEM®, your thrip problem will be taken care of fairly quickly.


Lady beetles, lacewings and parasitic wasps will appear shortly after the thrips invade your garden. You can also order some of these insects from your local garden center and release them in your garden.

To entice wild predatory insects to stake out territory in your garden, plant nectar- or pollen-producing plants as indicated by the climate and hardiness zone of your area. Most greenhouses and garden centers can help you determine the right plants and planting times for your area.

Environmental Control Options For Thrips

Aside from using Safer® Brand insect control products to manage your thrip problem, you can also make sure your lawn and garden isn’t an inviting environment to these pests.

What Can Stop Thrips?

Make sure your garden, lawn and trees do not provide a favorable environment for thrips to thrive. These insects reproduce rapidly, so its important to act just as quickly.

  • Proper irrigation
  • Avoid excess nitrogen applications
  • Clean up plant waste
  • Prune infested plants and buds
  • Add row covers
  • Install reflective mulch
  • Make sure plants are strong and robust

How Does Thrip Control Work?

Pruning the affected vegetation may be helpful in reducing thrips. Cut off the leaves or parts of plantings that have thrips on them.

Check the soil content of your garden or around trees and plantings to make sure you do not have too much nitrogen in the soil. With good intentions, people may use fertilizer that has been highly enriched with nitrogen, only to be inadvertently creating an environment highly conducive to thrips and their offspring.

Plant waste, often left after pruning and harvesting, can be used by thrips to survive the winter or cold snaps, so removing this debris is vital.

Row covers can stop new thrips from arriving. Along the same line, reflective mulch placed under plants can disrupt a flying insect’s ability to locate a new host plant.

Finally, grow young plantings inside until they are strong enough to withstand a thrip attack. If this cannot be done, use a covering for the planting or seedling outside in the garden while it is still young and vulnerable.

When Should Thrip Control Take Place?

Pruning of affected yellowing leaves should be done as soon as they are found. Row covers and reflective mulch should be applied during initial planting or transplanting. Plantings should be started indoors according to the instructions for the plants. This is usually in late winter to early spring, depending on your location.

Waste cleanup should be a year-round effort.

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