What Are Thrips?

It is important to know the kind of insects that may live in your garden to understand how to handle them. One of the insects which may come into your garden includes thrips. But, what are thrips, what do they look like and how do you detect them?

Thrips are tiny insects, similar in size to aphids, that such plant sap causing plants to wither.

It may be difficult for you to spot thrips in your garden. There are different species of thrips that can be found.

These insects suck the plant sap and can cause severe damage to their health. Usually, this comes in the form of yellowing leaves, curling leaves, and stunted growth. In addition, thrips can also be dangerous as they can transmit viruses from one plant to another.

How Do You Know If You Have Thrips?

It is important to learn how to know if you even have thrips in the first place. One of the obvious ways you will know if you have thrips in your garden is by recognising and identifying them. 

Thrips are tiny and slender insects that are at most 0.25 inches long. These insects come in different colours, including yellow, black and brown. You can identify these thrips when they are grouped together, but they will probably disperse if you come close to them as thrips have wings that allow them to fly.

The nymphs are even smaller than adults and have a light yellow or green colour. These young thrips do not have fully developed wings and can be seen sometimes with red eyes. It is difficult to spot thrips among plants, usually without a magnifying glass.

What you can do, however, is to lay down a white sheet of paper and shake the plant to spot any thrips which may fall down.

Another way you can tell that you have thrips in your garden is by examining the damage. Thrip damage looks like silver streaks on your plants, accompanied by white patches. This is because the thrips suck on the plants leaving behind these marks.

If you have a big thrip infestation in your garden, the plants will suffer from stunted growth and damaged or poorly developed fruits and flowers.

Sometimes, the damage you may spot in your garden may not be because of thrips sucking but the virus they have spread. Usually, the most common plant to suffer because of thrips are tomatoes which are most susceptible to this particular virus (photo below shows damage to tomato leaves):

Are Thrips Dangerous?

One of the concerns regarding any pests you may find in your garden is whether they are a cause of danger. Thrips are not dangerous to humans themselves. They can bite but you’d be lucky if you feel anything from a bite and if you do, it’ll feel like a gentle pinch.

In addition, the bite does not hurt and does not result in any harsh consequences. However, people who are allergic to insect bites may suffer from more serious symptoms than those who are not. 

How Do You Get Rid of Thrips?

Due to the damage thrips cause in gardens, you will be looking for ways to get rid of them. Fortunately, there are some ways you can adopt to get rid of thrips and control the damage they cause:

Reflective Mulch

By adding reflective mulch to your garden, you will be creating confusion for thrips and hindering their flying abilities. Thrips will not spread from one plant to another. 

Neem Oil

One of the ways you can get rid of thrips and other harmful insects in your garden is by using neem oil. You can add a few drops of neem oil to the water and make a spray for your plants. However, it is important to patch test to check if your plants do not react adversely to the solution before you go ahead. 

You must be careful about applying the solution. Refrain from applying the solution in the sunlight as it can burn your plants. 

Natural Predators 

Perhaps one of the best ways you can reduce thrip damage in your garden is by introducing natural predators. You can get these predators at the store or online. Ladybirds, both in adult and larvae forms, can be purchased and released.

Diatomaceous Earth 

Another effective way to get rid of thrips is by using diatomaceous earth. This is like talcum powder and works great to kill thrips and other insects.

The powder, upon interaction, gets inside the exoskeleton of the thrips and dehydrates them. You can sprinkle the powder in your garden and in any place where you spot thrips the most. 

Use Sticky Traps 

Using sticky traps is an effective technique if you wish to find out if you have thrips in your garden. In addition, you will be able to get most of the thrips, especially if it is an early infestation. 


Thrips are small insects that you may find in your garden. These tiny insects are quite difficult to spot unless you have a magnifying class. Thrips feed on trees by sucking on them, leaving behind curled leaves and stunted growth. 

You can tell that you have thrips by the damage, or you can shake the plants on a blank canvas to see if any fall out. A trip infestation can lead to many problems, so it is important to get rid of them. You can tackle thrips by using methods like sticky traps, neem oil, natural predators or diatomaceous earth.

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