Thrips are a large species of common houseplant pests. The damage they cause to plants can be quite severe and unattractive. This is why proper thrips control measures should be taken on an infestation.
Their small size is their biggest asset, as they are almost impossible to see with the naked eye. But, you can spot them with the use of a magnifying lens or microscope.
What do thrips look like?
Thrips insects are quite small measuring less than 1/25 of an inch. They are fitted with piercing and sucking mouthparts which they use to feed. The adults vary in colors ranging from black to yellow and brown.
They are also fitted with a pair of wings. This allows them to take flight in search of young plants to feed on. Thrips nymphs are a little smaller than the adults. Their skins are lighter in color ranging from yellow to green.
Life Cycle Of Thrips Bugs
The life cycle of a thrip bug varies depending on the exact species. For most thrips, they live a pretty short life. The adults go dormant during the cold winter season. When the weather becomes more comfortable, they become active.
Thrips adopt the asexual mode of reproduction. The adults deposit eggs in the leaf tissues, stems, and flowers of healthy plants. Thrips eggs take about 3 to 5 days to hatch into hungry nymphs.
Once hatched, nymphs go on a feeding spree. They feed on the sap of plants for a period of 2 to 3 weeks before molting. Thrips larvae then molt into adults which live for a maximum of 1 month.
What plants do thrips attack?
Thrips feed on a wide variety of ornamental plants and vegetable plants. A few of these are;
- Onion plant
- Bean plants
- Tomato plant
- Busy lizzies
- African Violets
Identifying Thrips Damage
The damage caused by thrips on plants can be very devastating. Thrips damage on leaves can appear as white patches, brown and silver speckles, or stripes. This is because they damage and kill plant cells while they feed.
Thrips also spread certain viruses that could lead to stunted plant growth. Other visible symptoms of thrips include flower and fruit deformation. And this happens because thrips feed on the nutrient which could be used by the plant.
Depending on how bad the infestation is, most plants die from thrips infestation. This is why thrips control methods must be employed on time.
How To Deal With Thrips
- Before bringing a new plant into your garden or grow space, check for signs of thrips. Do a thorough search on the plant for soil thrips. Also, check the leaves for thrips eggs on leaves. Doing this can help save you a lot of trouble in the long run.
- If the infestation has become too severe to treat, you should dispose of the plant. Thrips can spread with ease to neighboring plant hosts. This is why severe infestations should be handled with care and on time.
- Thrips are attracted to the colors blue and yellow. For this, you can make use of blue and yellow sticky tapes. You can use this to set traps for them. This can be used in monitoring their movements.
- For clusters of thrips that could form at the undersides of leaves. You can use powerful hoes to dislodge them from plant leaves.
- Horticultural oils can also be used to handle large-scale infestations on vegetables. They are organic and quite effective when dealing with thrips.
- Thrips Insecticidal soaps can also work in taking care of flying thrips. Use safe soaps that are made from organic materials like fats and oils.
- Neem oil can be used as a great thrips control insecticide. You have to mix it with water and spray it on the infested plant. They are organic and could be used on fruit trees and plants.
- For severe infestations, dusting the affected leaves with Diatomaceous Earth could work. The chemical compound can be harmful to thrips species.
Frequently Asked Questions
Thrips have a very fast life cycle, this means reproduction happens fast and so does their spread.
Neem oil is the best bug killer for plant pests. They work on almost all common houseplant pests available.
No, their mouthparts are designed for piercing and sucking on plant sap. Without plants, they would die off.
Some chemical-based insecticides can be harmful to plants. This is why organic insecticides are most recommended.
No, but their bites on humans can cause certain mild skin irritations.