Thrips can be one of the most destructive bugs in the garden, eating seemingly anything. That’s why it’s important to look into what these insects eat. This way, you will be able to protect your current plants and know what measures to take. So, what do thrips eat?
Thrips will eat through the surface of leaves on a range of plants and will then suck sap from plants.
Thrips are a big problem for gardeners because of the damage they entail to the plants. Not only do thrips eat away the leaves, but they also suck sap from the plants, leaving them frail, resulting in stunted growth.
What Plants Do Thrips Attack?
Thrips can be detrimental to your garden as they can attack plants severely. Thrips like to feed on the younger plants, which are tender, and proven to be an easy target. There are also some species of thrips that attack the roots of plants.
Due to the small size of the insects, it is not easy to spot them with your naked eye. You can shake the plants over a blank sheet of cloth or white paper. Some of the thrips will fall from the plant and you’ll be able to tell whether you have a thrip infestation or not.
You can also look at the damage which your plants have been suffering from. If you have thrips, the damage will look like coarse, curling leaves. Thrips, also, tend to leave behind yellow or white spots on the leaves.
Thrips will attack during the warmer, drier months of the year. Plants located in dry areas with lots of shade are susceptible to getting attacked by thrips. In addition, plants with lower leaves are also at risk of thrip attacks.
On the other hand, plants that have been well looked after and watered well are less prone to getting attacked by thrips. The plants which thrips love to feed on include Viburnum, Pyracantha, Azalea, Bergonia, Luma, Ferns, and Toyon.
Do Thrips Eat Aphids?
Thrips and aphids are similar insects, and both can be found in the garden. You can find aphids and thrips in the same environment. However, thrips largely rely on plants for survival and do not eat aphids.
These insects are quite similar, which is why similar treatments are used to get rid of them.
Do Thrips Eat Other Insects?
You may be surprised to know that there are predatory thrips out there. These species of thrips, instead of causing harm to your plants, will consume other insects and protect your garden.
It is difficult to detect predatory thrips because they look similar to the other species. Both kinds of thrips are small in size, making it harder to differentiate between them.
Predatory thrips will feed on other insects which you find eating on your plants. Some of the insects which fall prey to these thrips include mites, whiteflies, scale insects, and lace bugs. Predatory thrips are already tiny; therefore, they prefer small pests to feed on. Hence, they are a natural predator for even the thrips, which cause damage to your plants.
Predatory thrips can be found on different plants, particularly where other insects have not been wiped out. These thrips are found in fruit-bearing trees or ornamental plants and vegetables.
These thrips have sucking mouthparts that feed on the flesh of other insects.
How To Keep Plants Safe from Thrips
While it is good to encourage predatory thrips in your garden, your plants are still at risk if you face an infestation from regular thrips. Therefore, you need to adopt some practices in your garden that keep thrips from causing damage.
Many people swear by using reflective mulch in their garden to avoid thrips. The mulch works by confusing the thrips, which causes them not to fly. Therefore, this avoids thrips from spreading around in your garden.
In addition, you can also try using neem oil on your plants. Neem oil will be effective against thrips and other insect problems you may have. You can make a neem oil spray using a few drops combined with a bottle of water.
However, it is important to ensure that you do not use this in direct sunlight; otherwise, your plants may suffer some burns.
You can also tackle thrips by introducing natural predators which feed on thema. Ladybirds are one of the easiest beneficial bugs to introduce to your garden who will eat thrips as well as other pests such as aphids.
These are some of the ways you can keep your garden safe from thrips. You can try one method or more than one to find out which works best for your plants.
The problem with having thrips in gardens is their small size, making it difficult to track them down. Thrips are known to cause damage to the leaves and suck the sap from plants. You will know that you have thrips from the damage they cause to gardens which is curling of the leaves, silvery trails, and stunted growth.
There are some species of predatory thrips, too, which feed on other insects and other thrips. You can encourage these predatory thrips in your garden. Or you use methods like adding reflective mulch, applying neem oil, and diatomaceous earth.
Ryan is a keen gardener from the UK who’s spent years dealing with countless, common pests over the years so knows the ins and outs of how to deal with pests in the garden