Leaf showing thrips damage

Thrips

Hello, I’m Thrips

ALIASES

As well as thrips I’m also known as thunder-flies, thunder-bugs, storm flies, thunder-blights, storm bugs, corn flies, corn lice, freckle bugs, and physopods.

DESCRIBE YOURSELF

I am about 2mm long, sometimes white and yellow, but don’t mind black. Thrips are quite slim, with lovely fringed wings! Don’t be fooled, what I lack in size I make up for in tenacity. I’m very social and usually travel with lots of other thrips as mates.

KNOWN ASSOCIATES

As I travel with lots of thrips, I tend not to need assistance from other bugs. However, other bugs may come in and attack plants that I have weakened.

WHERE DO I HANG OUT

I like most plants, but I’m really fond of tomatoes, beans, roses, azaleas and fruit trees. I love any white, yellow or light-coloured flowers! I lay my eggs in unopened flowers, suck the sap and scrape the stems, and I love spreading viruses from plant to plant.

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU’VE BEEN MUGGED

Your plants’ leaves look white and mottled, the petals or fruit turn brown, and flower buds fall off! Late spring is my favourite time to visit your garden – just as the weather starts to warm up and your garden starts to bloom!

MODUS OPERANDI

Me and my young spend winter in the soil emerging in spring when I lay my eggs in flowers, leaves or stems. I don’t need any boys to reproduce and can lay up to 80 eggs in one sitting. I feed on plant sap and can give rise to 15 generations each year.

HOW DO YOU MAKE ME FEEL UNWELCOME

Use home-made or commercial chilli soap sprays. I don’t like Ladybirds or Lacewings, so if you invite them in, I’ll leave. (see Good Bugs in your garden #1) You can also annoy me by putting shiny aluminium foil around the base of plants to bounce light on the undersides of leaves, or stop my adult friends from emerging from leaf litter in the early spring by applying a thick layer of organic mulch around susceptible plants.

Remove the damaged plant parts as I also like to over winter in plant tissue or bark fissures. Destroy all infected flowers and buds and definitely don’t compost them. Throw them out – and me with them! If I JUST WON”T LEAVE, hit me with Pyrethrum spray but be careful not to use when friendly pollinating insects are visiting the same flowers!