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Proven Methods, How To Get THRIPS Off Your Plants

thrips on a leaf

Thrips are small slender bugs that suck the lives out of other bugs and also your plants in your garden at home. Plants affected include but not limited to the following: Roses, Onions, Figs, Irises, Chives, and Impatiens. The body colors of thrips range from white all the way to black through, semi-transparent, yellow, and brown depending on the species.

How To Get THRIPS Off Your Plants? Thrips can be controlled by timely pruning, good husbandry, good soil nutrition, along with ensuring good ventilation and watering habits. But one of the very best ways to get rid of thrips is to use predatory insects.

There are over 6000 species of thrips in the world, all belong to the taxonomic order Thysanoptera. It is important to note that some thrips on your garden plants are beneficial whereas others remain a nuisance to your plants. Since there are over 6000 species, it is hard to differentiate between the good and the bad. Therefore, I just tend to control all of them to be sure.

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How to get rid of thrips.

The best methods of getting rid of thrips are those that qualify as both natural and preventive. There are quite a number of methods that I find useful for this exercise. I classify them as either preventive or curative. I further classify both the preventive and curative measures as either natural or chemical methods.

If you are worried about getting rid of thrips from your plants then this article is worth reading. This guide is aimed at availing some of the most effective measures to get rid of thrips from your plants at home.

Preventive techniques of getting rid of thrips

We have all heard the saying that prevention is better than cure. I couldn’t agree more on this when it comes to getting rid of thrips. The list below is not exhaustive but these are measures I have used to good effects.

  • Timely pruning
  • Ensuring garden cleanliness
  • Growing thrip resistant plants
  • Improve your soil nutrition
  • Maintain good irrigation
  • Reflective mulching
  • Use predatory insects

Timely pruning

I have a relatively large garden, I grow all of my own fruit and vegetables to eat. Therefore, I ensure that already infested leaves are removed and destroyed. These should be burned or put out for the green waste collection. It is safe to add to this as the process gets extremely hot and it kills all parasites.

elderly lady pruning lemon tee

Ensuring garden cleanliness

Keeping a clean garden free of weeds is good husbandry since thrips also attack weeds. Thrips can shelter under garden debris by removing this you reduce the number of places for them to breed and hide. This will not only help you with thrips but other pest species too like slugs.

Growing thrip resistant plants

There are some plants that can stand up very well to thrips. It may be worth looking at growing these instead. As I have already said I grow all my own food, so for me this is not an issue and I found other ways to deal with thrips if they arrive.

Improve your soil nutrition

Thrips tend to prefer attacking plants located where the soils have high amounts of nitrogen because the plants that grow here are leafy. You can control thrips by reducing the nitrogen in the ground. However, this is not always possible as if you are growing food the nitrogen is required for good yields.

Maintain good irrigation

Thrips like to be warm, Irrigating with cold water can prevent thrips from using your plants as feeding zones. Be mindful about overhead watering with sprinklers though as this can cause other issues in the garden like Mildew and Blight. But if you water in the morning and soak the plants they have time to dry off in the sun throughout the day. This way, you are able to control the thrips.

Reflective mulching

Thrips hate bright light conditions, Usually hiding during the brightest part of the day. We can use this to our advantage and use reflective mulches. Horticultural plastic is white on one side and black on the other. If you place this down white side up, it will reflect the light back into the plant’s canopy. This can greatly help in putting off thrips from hovering over my plants.

Use predatory insects

An excellent way to control thrips is to use predatory insects such as mites (Amblyseius cucumeris and Amblyseius Swiskii) to keep thrips from attacking plants. They are good because they hide at strategic leaf positions such as the undersides along the veins and inside the petals of mature flowers.

By adding your own cultures you vastly speed up the process of the predator taking hold in the garden and this knocks thrips on the head before an infestation can take hold.

ladybird eating aphids

Natural techniques of getting rid of thrips

  • Yellow Sticky Traps
  • Blast with cold water
  • Use neem oil extract
  • Utilize Diatomaceous earth
  • Use predatory insects
  • Shake infested plants
  • Insecticidal soaps

Use sticky traps

I personally use yellow Sticky Thrips Leaf Miner Traps since they are non-toxic and I would say they are the best way to control these pests in a high tunnel or greenhouse. Just hang these traps at a spacing of 6 feet. Make sure they are at the level of your plant foliage. Alternatively, you could place them at the ends and starts of the plant rows in the garden.

The rate at which you should replace the traps depends on the extent of the infestation. If the infestation is too high, replace the traps more frequently so that more thrips can get immobilized.

Apart from being non-toxic to both the soil and food, traps are also cheaper. Cheaper and non-toxic is a very rare combination, but still the best. For best results, I would recommend using yellow-colored sticky traps as thrips are attracted to the color yellow.

yellow insect traps

Blast with cold water

In my garden, the temperatures are relatively high especially during the summer days which is why thrips are able to survive and their numbers are very high. Thrips love the warmth and while they are getting cozy on my plants, I surprise them by giving them a burst of cold water to dislodge them from my plants.

I use this technique in my garden and the beauty of it is that it performs quite well even in large commercial gardens. Heavy rains can help in clearing thrips by scrubbing them from the plants.

Use neem oil extracts

Neem Oil extract is very good at dealing with thrips. It will also eliminate spider mites, aphids, and fungi. It is non-toxic to both your soil and food and can be used repeatedly. Use a ratio of 1 ounce of neem oil extract: 1 gallon of water, to effectively get rid of thrips in my garden at home.

Spray mostly in the mornings using a mist sprayer that wets the plant foliage. Ensure to spray both sides of the leaves and into the flowering heads. This kills and dislodges the thrips.

Utilize Diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth is a fantastic product for killing thrips, Simply sprinkle this around the plants on the ground. When the thrips drop to the ground to pupate. Diatomaceous earth will kill them before they have the chance to climb back onto the plants.

Use predatory insects

I would encourage the use of Trichogramma wasps, pirate bugs, ladybugs, lacewings, or the mites classified under the genus Amblyseius since they are effective in preventing thrips without having to employ the use of chemical insecticides that might be toxic to both the soil and edible plants.

Shake infested plants

If the plants are thrip infested, shake them off from the leaves or branches. Remember to use a cloth to catch them underneath as they fall off. Thrips will fall onto the damp rags and you can then dispose of them. Better still place a sticky pad underneath the plants before shaking. This will trap them all right where they fall.

Insecticidal soaps

These may sound like a chemical because of the conditioning over the years that insecticides must be chemicals. You can make insecticide soaps in the comfort of your own home using natural ingredients such as vegetable oil. They are non-toxic, cheap, and easy to use.

Homemade insecticides will kill most soft-bodied insects such as thrips, aphids and mealybugs, and many others without having to worry about the aftermath. The best time to use insecticide soaps is in both mornings and evenings. Avoid the daytime as this will act as a magnifying glass on the leaves and scorch them.

Two of the very best insecticidal soaps I use is Castile soap. This is a baby soap and is a proper soap. A lot of people think you can use dishwashing detergent, but this detergent is a surfactant and not only damages your plants but your soil life too. Stick with natural soaps like Castile soap.

The other that I use all the time is SB Plant Invigorator, This product is awesome, and not only will it kill all of these insects such as thrips, but will also kill mildews too, so it’s ideal to deal with things like powdery mildew

I use both of these products and I go into much more detail in the video below. Check it out if you’re having problems with thrips and aphids.

Get rid of aphids from the garden and kill whiteflies

Chemical techniques of getting rid of thrips

I am organic in my garden, but I fully appreciate that some people just want to go buy a product and spray the plants in the hope it will kill everything. I can safely say it probably will, but I am including this in the post as it is a way to control thrips. Hopefully, all the other information will allow you to deal with your issues without resorting to using the following.

Pyrethrum-based insecticides

A pesticide such as the Neudorff BugFree is manufactured using pyrethrins and rapeseed as the main ingredients. Use it in the garden in the evenings to ensure beneficial insects like bees that come searching for nectar during the day are not killed.

This spray can also pass for organic pest control since its active ingredients are extracted from actual plants; pyrethrins from chrysanthemum flowers and rapeseed from the rapeseed flowering vegetable. I find it very effective since it puts the entire life cycle of thrips in jeopardy.

Other pyrethrum-based insecticide sprays are good for organic gardening since the pyrethrum itself is natural. Therefore, pyrethrum pesticides’ toxicity only lasts a few days making them less harmful.         

It is clearly evident that anyone could easily lose their edible plants if neglect gets the better part of them. Thrips are some of the most notorious thieves of plant produce. It is therefore very important that their infestation is prevented and/or controlled as soon as possible using the said techniques.

Related Information

How do you know if you have thrips?

  • Leaves dry and curl on the plants
  • The petals of flowers are littered with blemishes
  • Leaves have yellow blotches from having sap removed
  • Excrement on the leaves can be seen
  • Thrips can be seen on the leaves and flowers
  • Leaves die, curl and take on a silver color

Can thrips bite humans?

Can thrips bite humans? You may have been in your garden for a few hours and come home to find a red swollen area with a little red dot slap bang in the middle of it. This is usually a trip bite. Thrips only feed on leaves and flowers, however, occasionally they do end up on your skin when you brush past the plant. At this point, they will bite humans.


Thrips can be a real pain for the gardener, Damaging flowers and vegetables. They adore the leek family and have totally ruined my chances of winning prizes at shows. However, we don’t have to put up with them.

Armed with the info in this blog post you can now storm forward and knock them down as soon as they appear. But remember this post was written with prevention first. That is a much better way to deal with thrips.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post about Thrips. I trust it answered your question fully. If this was of interest to you, why not consider checking out some of my other blog posts and subscribing to the blog so you don’t miss future content.

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