Find the Best Ways to Get Rid of Thrips to keep your garden free from these sap-sucking insects and the plants healthy and thriving!
Garden pests are a challenge to plant parents, especially the sap-sucking critters that feed on the lush foliage and fruits in no time if not checked upon timely. To keep your hard work from going in vain, follow the Best Ways to Get Rid of Thrips discussed below!
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What are Thrips?
Also known as Thysanoptera or thunder flies, thrips are sap-sucking insects like sewing needles that munch on fruits, leaves, flowers, and petioles and even tunnel across the soil in rare cases.
These insects puncture the plant cells and transmit viruses, leaving silvery-gray patches, thus interfering with the plant’s appearance.
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Thrips live around the plants they consume; you can see them on leaves, buds, bark, flowers, or stems. They also exist on indoor plants like Pothos, Orchids, and Philos, marking their beautiful foliage with unpleasant trails.
The insects lay eggs on the plant surface, between folded leaves, in the wounds, or in the plant tissues where they dig their way; on hatching, the nymphs also feed on the plant before it undergoes a few stages to develop into an adult thrip.
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Thrips are slender creatures that differ in size. The immature thrips—nymphs are wingless, while the adult has fringed wings and is less than 1/20 inch long. The color can be yellow, black, or brown, depending on the maturity. They have distinct asymmetrical rostra with one maxilla longer than others.
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Life Cycle of Thrips
The life cycle of thrips relies on the species, location, host plant, and other factors. Adult thrips and pupae overwinter in the bark, plant debris, or soil.
During spring, female thrips interpose eggs in the flower, stem, or foliage tissue. These eggs hatch after 3-5 days into wingless nymphs that feed for 1-3 weeks before resting to shed in 1-2 weeks.
They have up to 15 generations outdoors per year. Mature thrips live short about one month.
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How to Get Rid of Thrips?
Prevention is the best way to control thrips; follow these methods:
- Clean the areas where they breed after weeding or pruning and remove the debris immediately. Thrips lay eggs in pot cracks they slit through in stems, leaves, and fruits.
- Examine the plants for damage and pests where foliage connects to stems.
- Check the plants closely after bringing them home for signs of thrip infestation. The damage includes silver speckling, streaks, and small white patches. Also, do not trash the infected plants in the compost piles.
- For controlling adult thrips, use sticky traps.
- Spray an insecticide if the infestation gets out of control; pyrethrin or oil-based spray will be ideal.
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Best Ways to Get Rid of Thrips Naturally
1. Discard Infested Leaves and Stems
When you spot an infestation, remove the affected parts of the plant with heavy pruning. Thrip infestation can be controlled by examining store-bought plants and keeping them isolated after bringing them home or garden.
Repeat the process while moving potted plants indoors in winter.
2. Blast off Thrips with Water
Detach thrips from the plant by flooding them with a garden hose and blasting the infected foliage directly. Gently shake the plant to evict thrips. Do not keep the plant wet if there’s no air circulation, as moist conditions attract thrips.
3. Use Insecticidal Soap or Neem Oil Spray
Insecticidal soap is super effective against soft-bodies pests such as aphids, thrips, and scales. Mix one tablespoon of the soap solution in a gallon of warm water and spray it on the foliage thoroughly. Do not miss the undersides of the foliage, axils, and flower buds.
Make your own organic insecticidal soap recipe like this
4. Kill Adult Thrips with Blue Sticky Traps
Use blue sticky traps as this color attracts thrips; you can also use yellow traps as it will be easy to detect the pests on the light-hued surfaces. Tuck the traps near the infested plants.
5. Take Help from Natural Thrip Predator
Many predator insects feast on thrips and aid you in preventing further infestation. If you spot green lacewings, pirate bugs, and parasitic wasps in your garden, leave them to feed on these critters.
When you’re relying on these predators, avoid using pesticides that decrease beneficial insect populations, and grow different varieties of plants that attract these predators.
6. Grow Thrip Repelling Herbs
Herbs like Basil, Rosemary, and Oregano are potent for thrip management. Practice intercropping and plant these beneficial herbs to repel thrip infestation. You may also grow them as companion plants in the garden.
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7. Use Essential Oil
The fumigant characteristic of the cinnamon, clove, and turmeric essential oil blend is highly potent against adult thrips and mealybugs. It effectively damages the larvae, pupae, and these pests in all their stages.
Use two to four drops each in a gallon of water and target the infested areas for the best results.
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7. Prevent Future Infestation
To control future infestation, install a fine mesh netting, mulch around the base of susceptible plants, or use a row cover by allowing some light and moisture. Some other ways are as follows:
- Before buying and bringing plants home from garden stores, check the pests on them.
- Examine the plants frequently to detect a problem before it spreads.
- Water at the base of the plant without wetting the leaves.
- Isolate the infested plant material to avoid thrips spreading to nearby plants.
- Grow pest-resistant varieties that are vulnerable to becoming infested with thrips.
8. Use Milk Solution
Milk is a great way to get rid of thrips without posing any harm to the plants. Dilute milk with water in a 1:1 ratio and spray where you spot an infestation on leaves. You can also use it to control aphids.
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9. Press a Lint Roller
A sticky lint roller is all you need to gently lift thrips and their eggs off the foliage of the plant. Roll it across the leaves, and it will trap these pesky pests in no time. Once it collects all the thrips, peel the sticky side and throw it in the trash can.
10. Use Diluted Isopropyl
Diluted one part of Isopropyl with four parts of water. Mix well, soak a cotton ball in the solution and wipe the affected areas on the leaves with it. It will make them die quickly.
11. Keep Aluminum Foil Around the Plants
The reflective surface of the aluminum foil is going to disorient thrips, making them veer off the plants. Cut the foil in the shape of the pot and keep it at the base or at the side, where it reflects the light coming from the sun.
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12. Use Spinosad
If everything fails, get a Spinosad from a garden center, which is an effective way to get rid of thrips. Do follow the instructions on the label and keep it away from children and pets, as it is mildly toxic.