Thrip Overview

With more than 6000 species identified, Thrips are one of the most common insects found in indoor and outdoor gardens. They are slim insects with unique asymmetrical mouthparts that they use for feeding on plants. Thrips are ordered as Thysanoptera which means having slender fringed wings with long hair however not all of them have wings. They cause damage to plants by sucking juices and scraping fruits, leaves and flowers thus resulting in dull color, stains and lifeless plants.



The majority of thrips measure 0.06 to 0.12 inches long, color depends on the development stage and is tiny enough to enter the smallest flowers or bark cracks. Adult thrips are normally white to brown or black in color while larvae may be yellow, orange or red. They possess a hexagonal shape of the body with spines, body flanges and bristles that extend to the tip of the forks.

Thrips have distinctive uneven mouthparts used to puncture and suck the outermost layer of the plant to extract sap. On the other hand, some thrips use their mouthparts to puncture other insect’s skin to release their body fluids.

Thrips Life Cycle

Unlike any other insects, thrips undergo a process called metamorphosis that happens gradually. Thrips that feed on flowers and plants lay up to 80 eggs using an ovipositor. The eggs can be noticed as circle-like spots on the leaves or fruits but during the pupal stage, they cause an apparent discoloration. When the egg is hatched, the nymphs emerge and stay wingless for 2 stages so they have to crawl from one plant to another until their wings grow. Before reaching adulthood, the nymphs stop feeding and will find a safe place to molt. Thrips larvae turn into an adult within 20 days.


Thrips are highly capable of damaging crops and flowers. After feeding on the host plant, they will leave it deformed with some black marks. Their favorite plants to attack include squash, beans, carrots, onions and other vegetables as well as flowers like roses and gladioli. Thrips at this stage are attracted to light colored flowers spreading diseases like necrotic spot virus and tomato spotted wilt virus. They do not enter the house but can be possibly brought in by indoor plants.


Determine the population of thrips first, if your house garden is heavily infested using chemical treatments is one of your best options. However, if the affected area is not large, using non-chemical solutions may work best. If none of these work, it may be the right time to get help from a pest management professional.


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