Thrips Life Cycle & Control

Thrips attack plant tissue from which they suck the juices, giving the leaves a mottled appearance. Using a product like Safer® Brand Insect Killing Soap will eliminate thrips and prevent them from drying your plant.

This page will inform you all about thrips, and how to identify if you have thrips and most of all, how to get rid of these annoying pests.


So... What's a Thrip?

Adult thrips are very tiny, being no more than 1/25" in length, and are usually yellowish, black or brown in color. Nymphs look like smaller versions of the adults and are typically yellowish or pale green in color.


Reproduction Patterns of Thrips

In the beginning of spring, adults emerge from overwintering and lay eggs in the tissue parts of plants.

After the eggs hatch - usually in a few days - the nymphs begin eating. They continue to eat for up to three weeks before beginning the molting process, which will turn them into adults in another two weeks. Using a product such as Safer® Brand BioNEEM will break the molting cycle and eliminate the thrips from turning into adults, killing them in the process

Due to their fast reproduction cycle, there can be up as many as 15 generations of thrips in one growing season.


Thrip's Habitat

Thrips can be found in all regions of North America.

During the winter, they can be found under the debris of plants left over from harvesting, or under the ground.

During the spring and summer, they can be found on flowers, flowering plants, fruit crops, and trees where they feed. They can also cause infestations in greenhouses where they breed all year long.


Symptoms of Thrip Damage

Thrips attack plant tissue by sucking out the juices, giving the leaves a mottled appearance.

If enough thrips attack a plant, the leaves may take on a silver streaked appearance.


Results of an Thrip Infestation

When there is a large enough infestation of thrips, the plant can be severely damaged.

Fruits will not be able to fully mature, and flowers and buds may turn brown and die.

In addition, a fatal virus known as the tomato spotted wilt virus can be spread by certain types of thrips. Using a product such as Safer® Brand Insect Killing Soap will prevent the infestation of thrips and keep your plants looking healthy all season long.




The use of insecticidal soaps such as Safer® Brand Insect Killing Soap and neem oil such as Safer® Brand Neem Oil are two excellent methods of controlling soft-bodied, garden insects such as thrips.


Insecticidal soap, made from potassium salt of fatty acids, works by penetrating and destroying the outer shell or membrane of the insect causing it to dehydrate and die.

Neem oil products work by suffocating the insect. Remember, when using Neem oil products, there is greater risk of phototoxicity (burning). Avoid using sulfur based fungicides within the active period (5-7 days) of the neem oil product. These two products combined, greatly increase the risk of plant burn.

Safer® Brand offers a variety of thrip control products to help control and eliminate this garden pest and revive your plants. Products such as Safer® Brand Insect Killing Soap and Safer® Brand Neem Oil are the ideal products to eliminate thrips from your garden.


Since these formulas are contact killers and they do not persist in the environment, several applications may be needed for full control. As a general rule, much like watering, do not use these products in the peak of the day or when temperatures exceed 90 degrees F to avoid wilting or browning of the leaves.


Natural Predators


Natural enemies of the thrip include lady beetles and lacewings These insects, partnered with a product like Safer® Brand Insect Killing Soap or Safer® Brand BioNEEM are ideal to help control thrip infestations in your garden.


Lady beetles and lacewings find thrips to be a delicious delicacy, and they will devour them without hurting your plants.


Lady beetles, lacewings, and parasitic wasps will appear shortly after the thrips invade your garden.

Plant nectar or pollen producing plants as indicated by the temperature and climate zone of your area. Most greenhouses and garden centers can help you determine the right planting time for your area.


Environmental Controls


By making sure the environment of your garden or trees is not favorable to thrips, you can work on controlling any thrips who invade those areas.


Pruning the affected vegetation may be helpful in reducing thrips. Cut off the leaves or parts of plantings that have thrips on them.

Check the soil content of your garden or around trees and plantings to make sure you do not have too much nitrogen in the soil. With good intentions, people may use fertilizer that has been highly enriched with nitrogen, only to be inadvertently creating an environment highly conducive to thrips and their offspring.

Grow young plantings inside until they are strong enough to withstand a thrip attack. If this cannot be done, use a covering for the planting or seedling outside in the garden while it is still young and vulnerable.


Pruning of affected yellowing leaves should be done as soon as they are found. Ant baits and repellents can be used as soon as ants are seen running up and down trees and thrips are found on the trees or nearby.

Plantings should be started indoors according to the instructions for the plants. This is usually in late winter to early spring, depending on your location.

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