Thrips are tiny insects that attack outdoor and indoor plants. They lay eggs on plant leaves and suck the plant nutrients. Your plants become nutrient deficient and start dying. They also spread 20 types of deadly viruses on plants.
Thrips have approximately 6000 species in the world. Not all of them are bad for economical crops. Some of them are good for the ecosystem.
260 thrips species are found in North America. They attack tomato plants, onion plants, colorful vegetables, etc. I’ll go over what are thrips, their life cycle, thrips damage, and how to get rid of them?
What are thrips?
Thrips are also known as Thysanoptera or Thunderflies. They are small insects that are not good for your growing houseplants, vegetables, and herbs. They eat and destroy the economical crops and cause financial losses.
Thrips damage plants in multiple ways. Some species suck all the plant nutrients, some of them spread viruses to their host plants.
They have a cigar-shaped body with a maximum length of 14 mm. The Thrips that we found in the USA normally are 1 mm in length.
Yellow, black, and brown adult thrips cause plant damages. Their yellow or green color larval also feed on the plant nutrients.
They lay their eggs by puncturing the plant stems and leaf veins. Half of their population have fringed wings (a pair of two wings on both sides).
Thrips only fly to a small distance. Their wings are not made for conventional flight.
The life cycle of thrips
The life of thrips depends on various factors like environment, type of host plant, availability of nutrients, and species of thrips.
Some of their species live longer than others.
The surprising part is the mother thrips are able to reproduce without the male thrips. They lay their tiny eggs on plant leaves. Before that, they cut the plant leaves to expose the leaf tissues. Then they lay eggs in plant tissues. Because their eggs need a continuous supply of nutrients to develop into adult thrip.
Baby thrips have 5 stages of growth. The first two stages are called larvae or nymphs. At his time, they do not have wings but have a cylindrical body.
In their 3rd, 4th, and 5th stage they develop wings, legs, brain, and power of reproduction. This whole process of becoming an adult from a larva takes about 8 to 12 days.
Adult thrips can only live around for 45 days.
The interesting part is adult thrips are both winged or wingless.
In winter days thrips bury themselves in a warm and sheltered location. In spring and summer, they become active and attack many lovely gardens. There are many ways to get rid of them. In this how to get rid of thrips guide every method is explained below.
Thrip damage to plants
Thrips damage the garden plants only when they are hungry or feeding their babies. Damage caused by thrips is depending on their species. Because some thrips only attack tomato plants. While other species of thrips have a broad range of their hosts.
If the second type is in your garden, then all your plants can get infected. If you do not do anything to stop them.
For example, Thrips tabaci is a species that only infects 4 types of plants (potatoes, onions, cotton, and tobacco).
They puncture the plant leaves and stems with their Syringe mouth. Then they drink the plant content. They also damage the surface of valuable crops like potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and many other vegetables.
They usually feed on flowers and leaves of plants. These insects help their host in pollination.
We felt pain when they destroy our ornamental plants and roses trees. It takes many months to grow a plant from seed or seedling. And these insects infect them and kill them in few days.
If thrips are a headache for you and you want to know how to get rid of thrips. Then read the below part carefully. If necessary, make some notes for quick access.
How to get rid of thrips?
Thrips have the unique ability to develop resistance to insecticidal soap over time. This makes them good insects for testing the effectiveness of new pesticides.
Not all of them become resistant to professional pesticide control methods. But out traditional pest control methods will not work on them. Using them is just a wastage of time. Nowadays we have many best ways to get rid of thrips.
Control Moderate infestations
This type of infection can easily be controlled by using the best insecticidal soap. Go to your local pest control and ask them for special thrip control soap. Ordinary soap will not work on them.
Safer Soap is the product that you need to get rid of thrips (moderate infestations).
To make things easier combine the soap with neem oil. We all know the neem oil is anti-bacterial and anti-viral. It has the properties to kill or weaken insects. And to repair the thrip damage.
Neem oil is beneficial to kill the virus that thrips spread on plants.
There are many brands that make specially designed products for thrips control.
Biological insecticides like Beauveria bassiana. You can also use insecticidal spray.
How to prevent thrips?
Prevention is better than cure. To prevent thrips, you need to keep the area clean and hygienic. Cut the grass and remove weeds around the plants. Because these insects hide in these locations.
Also, remove the dead parts of the plants. Keep the garden clean by removing the fallen leaves and broken plant branches.
Plant insects have the tendency to spread very quickly. Therefore, always inspect the plants that you just buy from the garden store. Check the stems, leaves, underside of leaves, and also the surface of potting soil.
If any of your plants are affected. Keep it separate from other healthy plants.
Are thrips harmful to humans?
Thrips are not harmful to humans and pets. But they do bite and sensitive skin people may develop skin irritation for some time.
If they bite you accidentally. Your first action must be washing the skin with neem soap. Then apply Aloe Vera gel to prevent skin irritation.
Can I use milk to kill thrips?
Yes, you can use it to kill them but this method only works if you have an infected rose plant. A study conducted in INDIA reveals that thrips and aphids can be controlled by using milk on rose plants.