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How to Get Rid of Thrips

There are over 6,000 species of thrips (Order Thysanoptera) that have been described and documented, and it is likely that many more species exist. Thrips are found worldwide and are a common pest of crops and ornamental plants. They can be difficult to control, as they reproduce quickly and can resist many types of insecticides.

Host Plants

Thrips are tiny, slender insects that feed on a wide variety of plants, including many crops and ornamental plants. Some of the most common host plants for thrips include:

  1. Vegetables: Thrips are known to feed on a wide variety of vegetables, including tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beans, and lettuce.

  2. Fruit trees: Thrips can also infest fruit trees, such as peaches, apples, and cherries, causing damage to the fruit and leaves.

  3. Ornamental plants: Thrips are also known to feed on ornamental plants, such as roses, lilies, and geraniums, causing discoloration, distortion, and stunted growth.

  4. Field crops: Thrips are also a significant pest of field crops, including cotton, corn, and soybeans, causing damage to the leaves, stems, and fruit.

Regions impacted

Thrips are found in many regions of the world, including North America, Europe, and Asia.


Thrips are tiny, slender insects that range in size from about 0.5 to 1.5 millimeters in length. They are typically brown, black, or yellow in color and have a characteristic fringed appearance due to the elongated, narrow wings that they possess.

Thrips have a unique mouthpart structure, which they use to feed on the sap of plants, causing damage to leaves, flowers, and fruit.

Life Cycle

The life cycle of thrips varies depending on the species but generally includes the following stages:

  1. Egg: Thrips lay their eggs within plant tissue, often on the underside of leaves or inside flowers.

  2. Larva: The larvae emerge from the eggs and feed on the sap of plants, causing damage to leaves, flowers, and fruit.

  3. Pupa: The larvae pupate within the plant tissue and transform into adults.

  4. Adult: The adult thrips emerge from the pupae and mate, laying eggs to start the cycle over again.

The life cycle of thrips can be completed in as little as two weeks, allowing populations to increase rapidly and causing significant damage to crops and ornamental plants.

Damage and Detection

Thrips can cause a variety of damage to crops and ornamental plants, including:

  1. Stunted growth: Thrips feed on the sap of plants, causing stunted growth, reduced yields, and deformities in fruits and vegetables.

  2. Discoloration: Thrips can cause discoloration of leaves, flowers, and fruit, often appearing as silvery streaks or spots on the plant's surface.

  3. Deformities: Thrips can cause deformities in fruits and vegetables, including distortion, scarring, and abnormal shapes.

  4. Spread of disease: Thrips can also spread plant diseases as they feed, causing further damage to crops and ornamental plants.

Prevention and Control

There are several strategies that can be used to prevent and get rid of thrips from damaging crops and ornamental plants:

  1. Remove plant debris: Thrips can overwinter in plant debris, so removing dead leaves, stems, and other plant material from the garden can help reduce population.

  2. Use insect-repelling plants: Planting insect-repelling plants, such as garlic, basil, catnip, and chives can help to repel thrips and other pests.

  3. Monitor plants regularly: Regular monitoring of plants for the presence of thrips can help to detect infestations early and allow for prompt control measures to be taken.

  4. Use row covers: Covering crops with row covers can prevent thrips from laying eggs on the plants and help reduce populations.

  5. Use sticky traps: Sticky traps can be used to monitor thrips populations and to capture adult thrips before they have a chance to lay eggs on the plants.

  6. Improve cultural practices: Improving cultural practices, such as providing proper irrigation and fertilization, can help to promote healthy plant growth and reduce the impact of thrips damage.

  7. Use natural predators: Encouraging natural predators, such as minute pirate bugs, lacewings, parasitic wasps, ladybugs, predatory mites, and nematodes, can help to control thrips populations.

  8. Use insecticides: If thrips populations are high, using insecticides can help to control infestations. There are many different types of insecticides available, including chemical and biological options, so it is important to consult with a local horticulturist or agricultural extension office for specific recommendations for your area.

In order to effectively get rid of thrips, it is important to use a combination of these strategies and to monitor plants regularly for the presence of these pests.

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 Tomasz Klejdysz/Shutterstock

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

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