A closer inspection through a magnifying glass may confirm a worrying infestation of plant-feeding thrips. If you are an organic gardener, there are many natural ways to get rid of this pest problem.
Thrips damage results in scarred and discolored plants with pale, silvery patches on the leaves. Leaf spots may also appear white or yellow-speckled. The critters may also infest your home.
Here’s how to get rid of thrips naturally:
1. Soap and Water
A quick and easy home remedy to get rid of thrips on monstera, roses, hibiscus, orchids, tomatoes, and other plants is soap and water.
Dilute 5 tablespoons of liquid dish soap in a gallon of water. Shake well and spray the homemade solution all over indoor or greenhouse plants.
For outdoor plants, a pump sprayer may work better if the infestation is far along. You can also pour any leftover soapy water around the base of plants to kill off the developing nymphs (larvae).
Another great way to kill thrips on plants is with spinosad. This biological insecticide is made by a naturally occurring bacterium found in the soil.
Spinosad is usually combined with other compounds and sold in a dilutable liquid form. Use it for the control of thrip bugs and other soft-bodied garden pests.
3. Neem Oil
Neem oil is a natural repellent and pesticide that is effective against small, soft-bodied insects, including thrips. Besides, neem oil has an additional use as a fungicide.
To use neem oil for thrips, combine 2 teaspoons of liquid soap with 4 teaspoons of neem oil and a gallon of water. Shake well and spray this DIY thrips spray directly on the critters to kill them.
4. Diatomaceous Earth
A tried and true method of dealing with a multitude of insect pests in the house and garden is using diatomaceous earth.
Diatomaceous earth is sharp and abrasive to the exoskeleton of many insects. It has a dehydrating effect, making it perfect for getting rid of thrips naturally.
Sprinkle it around plants and spread it on the soil in your garden or in pots. However, after rain or watering the garden, you will need to reapply it.
Use food-grade diatomaceous earth to get rid of thrips inside the house and other personal indoor spaces. Regular grade is ideal for outdoor garden use.
5. Sticky Traps
Another common pest control method you can use for controlling thrips organically is sticky traps. Different colors attract different types of insect pests (blue and yellow for thrip insects).
These can be purchased readily from garden centers, shops, and online. Besides, they are easy to hang near any infected plants, inside or outside the house.
When they come into contact with it, the critters will become stuck to the traps and die not long after. Afterward, dispose of the strips with the pests.
PyGanic is an excellent organic insecticide for thrips and other insect pests. It contains pyrethrins, compounds derived from some chrysanthemum flowers.
Pyrethrin is usually combined with other ingredients and is available in commercial sprays. However, look at the labels to be sure of an organic product.
7. Natural Predators
One of the successes of organic gardening is being able to attract natural enemies.
These include lacewings and predatory mites, but the star of these predators is the ladybug. Although small and pretty, the lady beetle is a killer of many garden pests.
The thrips predator (Amblyseius cucumeris) also eats thrip eggs and larvae.
Pollen and nectar make up the diet of some of these creatures. Therefore, planting attractive flowers like marigolds, borage, and dill may invite them to your garden.
8. Essential Oils
A few drops of essential oils diluted with water make a powerful spray against all types of bad bugs and insects.
A standard recipe is to combine 1 to 2 ounces of essential oil with a gallon of water. Spraying the plants thoroughly helps treat thrips.
Essential oils such as orange oil, marjoram, and mint oil seemed successful. Read more on how to use essential oils for gardening.
Making use of your vacuum is a smart way to prevent thrips from taking over. The critters are so lightweight that gusts of wind transport them from plant to plant.
Therefore, it is relatively easy to remove them with a vacuum cleaner that will suction them into a disposable dust bag.
Running a small hand-held vacuum gently along and under the stems and leaves of plants will draw up large numbers of pests.
10. Eliminate Grass and Weeds
Keeping a garden clean is one way of reducing infestations of unwanted insects. As a result, regular cutting and weeding and clearing up dead leaves or debris will help keep the numbers down.
11. Kaolin Clay
This natural mineral creates a protective barrier when applied to leaves and fruits, which thrips cluster around. However, it must be mixed with water and applied with a sprayer.
Kaolin clay helps deter thrips from feeding. This organic thrips treatment works great for houseplants as well as those on the outside.
Regular pruning to cut off infested plant parts is another home remedy for thrips control.
Pest thrips can cause damage to leaves, stems, flowers, and fruits, so an infestation might require heavy pruning.
13. Use the Hose
A simple DIY method for getting rid of thrips is to use the hose.
Not all species of these tiny insects are good flyers. They also find it difficult to move around in moist air.
As a result, using the hose to mist plants can restrict their movement.
14. Pest-Repelling Plants
Plants that repel thrips include basil, marigolds, and garlic. If possible, plant these in your garden to help keep the critters away.
There are at least 4,500 species of thrips, also called thunderbugs, storm flies, or thunderflies, recorded today, and possibly the number is even higher. Some are beneficial in that they kill and eat other pests, but most are a nuisance to gardeners.
The pest ranges in color from black to yellow, brown, or translucent white. Using these natural methods to control them may mean that you will be able to enjoy vibrant plants again.