They are small cigar-shaped insects with long, narrow fringed wings. They are tiny and just visible to the naked eye. There are many different species and most cause injury to plant tissue. A heavy infestation of thrips can cause severe damage to foliage and even flowers and fruit as their rasping/sucking mouth parts scrape the tissue and extract plant juices.
On foliage, thrips damage appears as brown stippling on the leaf surface and when damage is more severe, the leaves may appear silvery or papery in appearance. Flower buds can become distorted and sometimes fail to open. Thrips damage on open flowers appears as dead spots, blotches, or the flowers may be discolored or deformed.
If you have thrips, sometimes you can see their little cigar shapes on the flowers or foliage but they are very small. You may also notice black specks of fecal material left on the foliage or flowers. Andre's easy way to tell if you have thrips is to shake the foliage or a flower just above a pad of white paper and see if any little cigar-shaped insects fall onto the paper.
In the past, thrips were controlled with applications of DDT! There are much safer ways to control them now.
- Prune off damaged flowers, buds, foliage, or terminal growth and discard in the trash.
- Vigorous, healthy plants can more easily outgrow thrips damage so keep plants healthy with proper fertilization and watering practices.
There are many different products labeled for controlling thrips:
- Bonide Captain Jacks Deadbug Brew
- Bonide Eight
- Bayer Advanced Natria Insect, Disease & Mite Control
- Bayer Advanced All-in-One Rose & Flower Care
- ORTHO Flower, Fruit & Vegetable Killer