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Have a Thrips Problem?

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Thrips are tiny, narrow insects, with adorned wings. Thrips use their mouths to lacerate surface cells on a plant’s stem, leaves, or fruit, and drink the fluid that is produced from the bite. Some thrips are beneficial, such as the black hunter and the sixspotted thrips, and only feed on mites and other insects. There are pest thrips that feed on plants and damage leaves, flowers, or fruit surfaces and can mutilate plant members. Other harmless species of thrips feed on fungal spores and pollen.


1 to 5 millimeters


Yellow, orange or black with whitish or translucent wings.


Common plant-feeding thrips are flower thrips. These thrips are yellow, orange or amber in color. Flower thrips typically grow in population during spring.


Thrips are usually seen in buildings only when the plants around the building are large. They usually do not use their tiny wings to fly but rather are carried by the wind. Upon landing on a building, their tiny size gives them easy access inside (usually insect screens pose no barrier to them). These insects can bite people even though they do not feed on blood like mosquitoes and mites. Most likely they will bite a human because they think we are a plant. A stinging sensation and some pain is the result of a thrip bite. Often, bites occur to people sitting or working outdoors near plants which harbor the thrips. The thrips can fly or be carried by wind onto a patio or deck and as a result, will bite and disrupt dining experiences on restaurant patios.


Small shrubs and other landscaping attract thrips. They usually start on vegetables and flowers in the spring and will move to tall, wild grasses and plants in the summer months due to dry conditions.

Control Advice

An infestation of thrips is fairly easy to control and treat. Identify the plants and shrubs that are infested. You can use a strong streams of water, such as a hose with a power wash attachment, to provide some control. The best way is with insecticidal soaps and will be more reliable for managing thrips. Other forms of control include malathion, permethrin, and pyrethrin sprays. Make sure to check the product label for approved thrip control. If your thrip infestation is unmanageable, treatment can be completed by a tree and shrub company. It is recommended to consult a professional for advice.

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