With over 6,000 species of thrips, it is not uncommon to find this pest residing in greenhouses and gardens.
Thrips can be found feeding on plants such as beans, carrots, onions, tomatoes, squash, other garden vegetables, and some flowers like roses.
They damage the plants by sucking out their juices and scraping at flowers, fruits, and leaves. Once the damage is done, plant leaves may turn pale and silvery, then die.
Adult thrips are tiny insects that are less than 1/25 inches long (almost invisible to the human eye) and are tan or black with two sets of feathered wings that are used when there is danger. They pupae through the winter months in garden soil, then emerge in spring.
Female thrips do not need to mate in order to reproduce. Once the environment is ideal for incubation, the female will deposit up to 80 eggs into the tissues of a plant's leaves or stems.
Thrip eggs hatch in a few days and wingless larvae emerge to feed on plant sap until they are ready to drop into the soil to pupae as an adult.
Natural garden maintenance can help control a thrip breakout, especially during the growing season.
Keep plant debris out of the garden and your yard trimmed neatly to keep thrips from seeking shelter as they grow and breed during the warm months since they are attracted to green mulch. Till your garden after harvests to disturb hibernating adults and reduce their numbers.
Inspect your plants often for damage caused by females depositing their eggs. Look for egg clusters at the base of the leave where it is attached to the stem of the plant. Remove and dispose of any plants that are infested by placing them in a sealed bag in your trash.
Use a water hose nozzle to blast pests off of garden and flower plants and limit an infestation.
Introduce beneficial insects such as pirate bugs, ladybugs, and the thrips predator into your garden or greenhouse to destroy all stages of the pest. If infestations are high, you may need to re-introduce the beneficial bugs to keep the pests under control.