Thrips, known officially as Thysanoptera, are a nuisance pest common to both indoor as well as outdoor growing areas. Thrips thrive off of the internal juices of plants, but not all species are harmful. When confronted with thrips, typically we want to aim for control of the population as a number of the species are beneficial.
Dealing with a Thrips Problem
Thrips are small, winged insects that feed not only on your plants but which will actually make a meal out of other small insects, as well. They are thin and longish to the eye and feed by puncturing their prey – including plant leaves and stems – and sucking up the insides. This results in misshapen greenery and discoloration. Eventually, if left untreated, the plant will wither and die. The feces of thrips is also often present in the form of minuscule black specks in close proximity to the bugs themselves.
There are a few other pests that can do damage that will look similar to that of thrips, including mites and lacewings. Be sure to properly identify your pests as thrips before embarking on a mission of thrip control. We highly recommend aiming to control your thrip population, as opposed to total eradication, as a moderate number of thrips can actually have a positive effect on your garden.
Getting Rid of Thrips
Surprisingly, some thrips can actually prove beneficial to your plants. Predatory thrips are thrips that you’ll want to maintain in your garden or greenhouse, as they will feed off the plant-sucking thrips, as well as many other types of pests including whiteflies and lace bugs. One of the reasons why it is important to use caution when applying insecticides is so that you do not kill off the good bugs that we want to keep in our growing spaces.
Spray Your Plants (Organically, Of Course!)
If you would like to utilize an insecticidal product, a Spinosad-based treatment (affiliate link) is your best bet. Spinosad should always be used with care, but can be applied to the garden without much danger of damage to a wide variety of crops or beneficial insects. Do not apply to plants during flowering.
In addition to Spinosad, you may also handle a thrips problem by treating with insecticidal soap or neem oil (affiliate links). Simply apply these a few times during the week, even after the problem has ceased.
Prune Your Plants
Consistent pruning is a necessity for proper thrip control. You’ll want to make sure that you are regularly trimming and removing any dead or damaged areas of your plants. Thrips can be removed as soon as they are spotted by pruning the area.
Thrips are very common in the garden, but thankfully they are not one of the most destructive pests that we have encountered. If left uncontrolled, they may do a great deal of damage and could even kill your prized crops. However, it is relatively simple to keep these critters at bay with just a few tricks of the trade. As always, let us know if you have any additional questions or any tips to share!