Thrips are tiny insects that can wreak havoc on gardens. These one-millimeter-long garden pests are slim with black or light yellow abdomens that sport two sets of small wings. These nemeses lurk on leaves’ undersides, along the leaf veins, and puncture and feed on plant tissues and sap, thereby depleting plants of their food.
In addition to stealing food from treasured plants, they are also disease spreaders. When they bite into different plants, they spread diseases from other plants to your healthy ones. It is essential to identify thrips in your garden to avoid decimation of your crops.
Read on to learn everything to know about thrips, including how to rid them and deter them from your garden organically.
Identify Thrips Damage
It is vital to identify the presence of thrips in a garden and take action to control their population. Due to their tiny body structure and ability to hide, they can be challenging to spot. Unfortunately, once you see the thrips themselves, you likely already have some trouble.
Here are some ways to spot this destructive garden pest:
- Keep a watchful eye out for leaves with dark green blemishes and silvery spots. This is a clear indicator that thrips are infesting your plant or garden.
- Acquire some yellow sticky traps from your local nursery or garden center and hang some around your garden. The adult flying insect will often get trapped on the sticky surface, which can help disrupt this garden pest’s life cycle. More often, though, the pheromone-loaded sticky traps will alert you to whether or not this pest is present, allowing you to take additional measures to take care of the issue.
- Thrips tend to camouflage themselves by lurking parallel along leaf veins.
- Look for dry leaves that drop when touched. These leaves have been depleted of their nutrient systems.
How to Get Rid of Thrips
It’s one thing to understand everything to know about thrips, but it’s another to be able to control them effectively in your garden. Thrips can be unwieldy nemeses for gardeners because they can be challenging to eradicate.
As organic gardeners, we aim to allow different aspects of nature to care for other areas of nature. Getting rid of garden pests is no different. You might think that grabbing an insecticide will be the best way of decimating thrips from your garden.
There are a few reasons why you should avoid using insecticides in your garden:
- When you use insecticides, you don’t just attack the individual pest; you wipe out an entire population of insects, even the good ones! Many beneficial insects are working hard in your garden to eat garden pests, pollinate flowers, and maintain the ecosystem’s natural balance.
- Insecticides leach into your soil, your plants, and the fruits and vegetables that you grow there, contaminating your food.
Pruning to Control Thrips
Regularly inspect your plants for thrips or other plant pests and take action immediately if any are detected.
- Prune all damaged and infested leaves and plants and dispose of them completely. Seal them in a bag and dispose of them in a trash receptacle.
Lure Beneficial Insects to Deter Thrips Bugs
Beneficial insects are a gardener’s best friends. They feed on garden pests like thrips bugs, naturally controlling the population of destructive insects. Beneficial insects are the best way to control the population of thrips and keep your plants healthy. Many beneficial insects are already in your environment; the aim is to keep them there and encourage more of them to seek out your garden space.
- Entice beneficial insects by planting flowers in and around your garden beds. Pollen and nectar keep beneficial insects happy and give them an ideal environment for them to reside in.
Plant companion plants that lure predatory insects to the garden. The insects that flock to these plants will feed on pests like thrips, naturally eliminating them from your garden. Green lacewings, minute pirate bugs, ladybugs, and predatory mites readily prey on thrips.
Lure these predatory insects to your garden bed by interplanting crops with:
Hang Yellow Sticky Traps to Get Rid of Thrips
Pick up some yellow sticky traps from your local nursery or garden center and hang some around your garden. The adult flying insect will often get trapped on the sticky surface, which can help disrupt the life cycle of this garden pest. More often, though, the pheromone-loaded sticky traps will alert you to whether or not this pest is present, allowing you to take additional measures to take care of the problem.
Thrips Treatment: Hosing Down Plants
Use a spray nozzle to knock thrips off your plants to keep them from doing more harm. Hopefully, they will move on to another location instead of returning to your plant.
- As you inspect your plants’ leaves and stems, use a sprayer attachment on your hose nozzle and wash the undersides of your leaves with a steady stream of water. Repeat as often necessary or as much as the plant can tolerate.
- Spray your plant with a soap and water solution (mix two teaspoons of dish soap per one gallon of water). Ensure that you thoroughly cover both sides of the leaves and other areas of the plant.
Everything to Know About Thrips
Overall, the organic gardener’s goal is to utilize nature as much as possible to solve problems in the garden. Now that you’ve learned everything to know about thrips, you can work with nature to combat them. Encouraging beneficial insects is the best way to attack the thrip population. Increasing your garden’s biodiversity will help your garden become more self-sufficient and reduce destructive nemeses like thrips from destroying the plants that you’ve worked so hard to grow.