Thrips are an all-too-common problem for vegetable gardeners. Not only do they cause damage to the plants themselves, but they can also spread diseases and viruses that put your entire harvest at risk.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss why thrips show up in vegetable gardens and what you can do to protect your plants from them.
What are thrips?
Thrips are tiny insects that measure only 1/20 inch. They are typically black or yellow-brown, with slender bodies and long wings.
We commonly found thrips on flower petals, leaves, and stems of plants and vegetables. They feed by inserting their mouthparts into the plant’s surface tissue to suck out the sap which results in discolored patches on the leaves and flowers.
What damage do thrips cause on plants?
Thrips cause damage to plants by sucking out the sap from their surface tissue. This can cause discolored patches on leaves and flowers, stippling of foliage, and a silvery sheen on the upper surface of the leaf. In addition, they may spread viruses or other plant diseases.
How to identify thrips on plants
Identifying thrips on your plants can be difficult, as they are small and often hard to see with the naked eye.
To identify thrips, look for signs of damage like discoloration or a shiny surface on the upper leaf to detect thrips infestation.
Use a magnifying glass to inspect the plant closely for tiny insects moving around the surface tissues of leaves and stems. Thrips will typically be black or yellow-brown, and measure only 1/20 inch.
How to get rid of thrips
Insecticidal soap or neem oil: Insecticidal soap and neem oil are effective at killing off adult thrips without harming your plants. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label carefully when using these products.
Remove infested plant parts: If you notice a large infestation on a particular plant, remove and discard any heavily infested leaves or stems to stop the spread of thrips to other plants in your garden.
Use spray of water: A forceful spray of water may also be effective at dislodging thrips from the plant and washing them away.
Use diatomaceous earth: Diatomaceous earth is a natural substance that can help control thrips by lacerating their bodies and dehydrating them.
- How To Stop Insects Eating Plant Leaves
- How to Use Neem Oil and Save Your Plants
- How To Use Diatomaceous Earth In Potted Plants
- Insecticidal Soap vs Dish Soap for Pest Control
How to prevent thrips on plants
- Keep your garden clean and free of debris, as this can attract thrips.
- Use row covers to prevent adult thrips from entering your garden.
- Plant resistant varieties of vegetables that are less attractive to thrips.
- Introduce beneficial predators such as lacewings, ladybugs, or predatory mites into your garden to help control the population of thrips.
- Prune out heavily infested branches before they spread more eggs around the plant and increase the population of thrips in your garden.
Host vegetable plants for thrips
Thrips attack a variety of vegetable plants, including tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beans, squash, and melons.
Natural predators of thrips
These include lacewings, predatory mites, and ladybugs. Lacewings feed on the eggs and larvae of thrips, while predatory mites will feed on both the adult and immature stages of the insects. Ladybugs also feed on thrips and other tiny insects, helping to keep pest populations under control.