Natural Ways to Get Rid of Thrips

Causing serious damage to plants becomes a sufficient reason for gardeners and landowners to understand how to get rid of thrips naturally.

Despite its tiny size, this pest can infest your garden rapidly and harm your plants by sucking the sap out or spreading viruses.

Thrips are very active and like to feed in big clusters. These insects will leap or fly away immediately when sensing a threat, making it difficult to control them without a plan.

To help you eliminate these pests without resorting to harmful sprays, I have listed below some ways to kill them naturally. 

Besides, you will find a list of plants that can repel thrips and other useful information to deal with these pests. 

Table of Contents

Where Do Thrips Come From?

Typically, you get thrips by bringing home a new indoor plant from stores. Besides, these insects may come in on the foliages of your houseplants that spend the summer outdoors.

Thrips can make a way to your garden by hitching a ride inside flower cuttings or veggies too. 

The research found that a huge number of spider mites and thrips come in on imported chrysanthemum cuttings. 

Hence, if you import cuttings of these flowers, consider checking your greenhouse or indoor garden right away to control thrips as early as possible. 

Thrips life cycle

Thrips life cycle
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Unlike most insects, thrips undergo a gradual metamorphosis that appears similar to complete metamorphosis. 

Pest thrips typically deposit their offspring into plants through an ovipositor, an egg-laying device. You can identify their eggs through halo-like spots left by these insects on fruits and leaves. 

Once emerging from eggs, young thrips will grow through two wingless phases. Before developing into pupae, these insects will experience a non-feeding period named the pre-pupae. 

Nymphs will pass a series of molt phases until they become adults. At the later stage of this phase, thrips stop feeding and look for a confined place to molt. 

These insects take around 20 days to turn into mature adults. Adult thrips will have wings that allow them to transport into other plants.

Meanwhile, young thrips that have no wings can still move from plant to plant by crawling. 

Type of thrips

Type of thrips
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Over six thousand thrips varieties exist worldwide. You can find the common species in greenhouses and either outdoor or indoor gardens. 

Adult thrips are tiny and they appear like a grain of rice. However, their slim bodies are much smaller than rice.

Most thrips come in brownish, yellow, or white colors. Without a hand lens, you will notice them as little dark threads. 

Meanwhile, thrips species are typically divided into three main types, including predatory thrips, recycler thrips, and pest thrips.

  • Predatory thrips

This thrips variety is common in the garden and may feed on other insects instead of your plants. They even eat larva, nymphs, or eggs of other thrips as well.

Predatory thrips are beneficial insects that prey on gnats, mites, aphids, midges, scale insects, and whitefly

  • Recycler thrips

Compared to the other types, recycler thrips are the most common. As the name suggests, this insect recycles lifeless organic matter into nutrients.

You can easily find them under old bark, near aged wounds on trees, and in decaying wood. Recycler thrips are harmless to both plants and other beneficial insects.

  • Pest thrips

Other species of thrips are parasites as they eat plants and use them as a place to hatch their eggs. In an ideal garden, they should not be a problem since beneficial insects will control these pests naturally.

If you are growing tomatoes, be aware of pest thrips infestations. They may contaminate one of your plants and spread serious viral diseases to other plants.

Identifying thrips damage on plants

Identifying thrips damage on plants
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You can identify the signs of thrips damage on leaves when they become distorted and papery. The foliage of infested plants may develop small pale markings and drop prematurely too.

By sucking the juices of the host plants, thrips can make leaves turn pale and die. Also, the damaged plant may get discolored and twisted.

Furthermore, thrips are also responsible for the spread of tomato impatiens necrotic spot virus and spotted wilt virus.

Both adult and wingless larvae of thrips prefer yellow, white, and other light-colored blooms. Thus, they tend to attack various flowering plants, particularly roses and gladioli.

Other host plants of thrips include squash, beans, onions, carrots, and other garden veggies. 

How to Get Rid of Thrips Naturally

How to Get Rid of Thrips Naturally
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In general, thrips control involves proper garden maintenance. You should not wait to take action once you notice the sign of damage caused by this pest.

Start with inspecting all plants you bring to the garden for symptoms of thrips or their damage. Throw away any infested plants if any by securely putting them in the bin.

As an organic landowner, you are lucky to have a variety of natural ways to control thrips in your properties. Here are some of the best methods to try.

1. Apply neem oil spray

Apply neem oil spray
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Insects with soft bodies like thrips are not matched to neem oil spray. This organic pest treatment acts like a fungicide and will kill them directly upon contact.

You can mix 4 teaspoons of neem oil and a gallon of water. 

Include 2 teaspoons of liquid soap in the solution to give an additional killing impact. Shake the mixture well and spray it to the thrips directly.

2. Use insecticide for thrips

Use insecticide for thrips
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For greenhouse thrips, you can use contact insecticides that do not cause persistent residue for the best result. 

When using any insecticide solution, you should ensure to cover the infected plants thoroughly. You must reapply the treatment several times to persistently remove new generations of thrips in your garden.

Instead of the over-the-counter insecticide products, you can also make a homemade insecticidal spray by using common remedies like neem oil, rubbing alcohol, and soap.

If you must deal with large thrips infestations, opt for a spinosad spray for an effective outcome. 

Besides, a least-toxic, short-lived botanical insecticide like pytherin may help to diminish rigorous populations of these insects.

3. Invite Natural predators

Invite Natural predators
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Organic gardening is ideal when it can promote natural enemies. Their existence will make a great help for dealing with thrips as well.

Since nectar and pollen become the main reason for these beneficial insects to enter your garden, planting attractive blossoms like nasturtiums and marigolds will help.

Beneficial insects like Ladybugs, mites, and lacewings are among the best predators that can prey on garden pests. Besides, cucumeris, the sworn enemy of thrips, will feed on their larvae and eggs.

RELATED: Bad Garden Insects on Plants

4. Use kaolin clay indoors

Use kaolin clay indoors

If you wonder how to get rid of thrips indoors, this natural mineral can help deter these pests from sucking the sap of your houseplants. 

Thus, they can be free from the great damage caused by these pests.

Kaolin clay will leave a grainy residue when applied to fruits and leaves. Make sure to dilute it in the water before use.

Use a spray bottle to apply this solution. When carried out properly, this organic treatment will give a positive result in both outdoor and indoor plants.

5. Diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth

Utilizing diatomaceous earth is a proven practice of controlling a range of pests in the garden. Thrips are not an exception.

Diatomaceous earth is abrasive and sharp to the exoskeleton of various insects. This causes a dehydrating effect that kills them eventually.

Throughout the winter, you can spread this solution directly on the soil or simply sprinkle it around your plants. 

This will interrupt the life cycle of the pesky thrips. Do not forget to reapply the powder after watering or rain as well.

6. Sticky traps

Sticky traps
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Visit nearby garden centers or shops to get ready-to-use sticky traps for your pest control. Remember that different colors will draw diverse pests.

When it comes to thrips control, you will need yellow or blue sticky traps. Then, hang them close to the infected plants. 

Additionally, you can apply the trap inside or outside the house.

Once the thrips or other insects get stuck in the traps, they will die immediately without a food source. Then, you can discard the strips along with the pests.

7. Essential oils

Essential oils
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Dilute several drops of essential oil with water to create a powerful spray against many types of insects, including thrips.

You can opt for peppermint, rosemary, lemongrass, or other kinds of essential oils. Make sure to spray the solution thoroughly to destroy thrips on contact.

For your reference, the basic ratio is to mix 1-2 ounces of essential oil with a gallon of water.

Although a study regarding this is ongoing, plant oils from aromatic herbs appear to be the most successful pest control.

8. Vacuuming

Image by thecalifornian

This smart method is worth a try to prevent thrips infestations. Since these insects are lightweight, wind can easily transport them from one plant to another.

As a result, a vacuum cleaner will be able to such thrips and keep them in the disposable dust bag.

You can use a portable vacuum and run it gently along the stems and all over the leaves to draw up thousands of thrips.

9. Soap and water

Soap and water
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If you are looking for effective ingredients to create a homemade spray for thrips, a combination of soap and water should be on the list.

You can use organic dish soap to make it more natural, but any kind of brand is acceptable.

This quick and simple home remedy can control thrips on orchids, roses, monstera, hibiscus, tomatoes, and other plants.

Prepare a gallon of water and add 5 tablespoons of liquid soap. Shake them and use the mixture as a spray solution for your indoor plants.

For outdoor plants, you may consider using a pump sprayer since it will work better, especially for a bad infestation.

10. Practice proper daily treatment

Practice proper daily treatment
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Practicing basic treatment like proper pruning and keeping the garden clean is helpful to control thrip infestations.

To keep your garden clean, eliminate weeds and grass regularly. You need to clear up debris and dead leaves to decrease the infestation of these unwanted insects too.

You must prune regularly to cut off affected plant parts as well. However, since thrips may result in bad damage to stems, blooms, leaves, and fruits, heavy pruning may be necessary.

Additionally, make sure to inspect your plants for damage regularly. When you find any thrips signs, physically remove them by spraying with water as initial treatment.

Plants That Repel and Control Thrips

Plants That Repel and Control Thrips
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Although the existence of their natural predators can help control these insects, thrips are still tricky to destroy once established. 

Thus, preventing them from coming into your garden and greenhouse will be the best way to be thrips-free. You can take advantage of the following thrips-repelling plants to keep these pesky pests at bay.

1. Oregano

This woody perennial serves as a culinary herb and an ornamental plant in the garden. It makes a perfect companion for many veggies, including tomatoes. 

Oregano makes a good plant to control thrips since it can attract these pests away from your favorite plants. 

2. Basil 

Other plants that repel thrips are basils. This popular herb features an intense fragrance that many insects including thrips dislike.

You can expect basil to be a low-maintenance plant. Besides, it makes a common companion plant with peppers, asparagus, tomatoes, and brassicas.

3. Chives

This close relative to onions, shallots, and garlic can repel most insects. Besides, their blossoms are attractive to bees and other pollinators.

However, since some thrips species may feed on them, you should inspect this plant carefully before importing it to your garden.

4. Catnip 

Furthermore, you should not forget this drought-tolerant plant when trying to destroy thrips or other destructive insects.

Catnip has an active compound that works as a natural repellent to thrips, beetles, cockroaches, termites, and other pest insects.

You can grow catnip along with squashes, root veggies, beans, and brassicas. Avoid planting it with parsley or rue since they may stall its development.

To Summarize

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Thrips are common pests in both indoor and outdoor gardens. Spotting their issues early and responding to them immediately become an important part of its management. 

Don’t wait to take action against these pests before your lovely plants, fruits, and flowers get wasted. Take the measures listed above and say goodbye to pesky thrips forever!

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