A closer inspection through a magnifying glass confirms a worrying infestation of thrips. If you are an organic gardener, there are many natural ways to get rid of this pest problem.
Thrip damage results in scarred and discolored plants with pale, silvery patches on the leaves. Leaf spots may also appear white or yellow speckled. Moreover, the critters may also infest your home.
Here’s how to get rid of thrips naturally.
1. Soap and Water
A quick and easy DIY home remedy to get rid of thrips on your roses, gardenias, or vegetable crops is soap and water.
Mix 5 tablespoons of liquid soap in a gallon of water. Dish soap is fine but it’s best to use one that is organic.
Shake well and spray the homemade solution all over indoor or greenhouse plants. For outdoors, 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 developing nymphs.
One of the best ways to kill thrips on plants is with the use of 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 to control thrip bugs and other soft-bodied garden pests.
3. Neem Oil
This is an old established method of destroying many pests, favored by organic gardeners and farmers worldwide. Neem oil is a natural pest repellent derived from the seed of the neem tree that you can use for thrips.
The oil has many beneficial properties and is used in a wide variety of pest-repelling gardening products. Besides, it has an additional use as a fungicide.
To make a killer spray for thrips, combine 4 teaspoons of neem oil with 2 teaspoons of liquid soap in a gallon of water.
Spray it directly on them. It will kill the critters or interfere with their feeding and reproduction.
4. Diatomaceous Earth
A tried and true method of dealing with a multitude of pests and diseases in the house and garden is using diatomaceous earth.
DE is a preventative or long-term answer to the problem. The white powdery substance is from the crushed fossils of tiny, aquatic organisms.
Diatomaceous earth is sharp and abrasive to the exoskeleton of many insects. It has a dehydrating effect, perfect for getting rid of thrips naturally.
Sprinkle it around plants and spread it on the soil, in pots, or on the lawn over the winter to disrupt the pests’ life cycle. However, after rain or watering the garden, you will need to reapply it.
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 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.
These critters and other insects will immediately become stuck to the traps and die rapidly without a food source. Afterward, dispose of the strips with the pests.
PyGanic is an excellent organic insecticide for thrips and other insect pests. It contains pyrethrin, a compound derived from chrysanthemum flowers.
Pyrethrin is usually combined with other ingredients and available in commercial sprays. However, look at labels to be sure of an organic product.
7. Beneficial Insects
One of the successes of organic gardening is in being able to attract beneficial garden insects.
Along with lacewings, mites, and other insects, the star of these predators is the ladybug. Although small and pretty, the lady beetle is a merciless killer of many garden pests. Moreover, the thrips predator (Cucumeris) eats the eggs and larvae.
Pollen and nectar also make up the diet of beneficial insects. Therefore, planting attractive flowers like marigolds and nasturtiums will invite these helpers to your garden.
8. Essential Oils
A few drops of essential oil such as peppermint, lemongrass, rosemary, etc., diluted with water is a powerful spray against all types of bad insects.
A standard recipe is 1 to 2 ounces of essential oil in a gallon of water. Spraying the plants thoroughly should kill the pests on contact.
Research into this means of thrip control is ongoing, but plant oils from aromatic herbs seem most successful.
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 cleaner gently along and under the stems and leaves of plants will draw up large numbers of the pests.
10. Eliminate Grass and Weeds
Keeping a clean garden is one way of reducing infestations from 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 leaves a grainy residue when puffed onto leaves and fruits, which thrips cluster around.
The critters pierce into plants and suck the sap, causing a great deal of damage. Therefore, kaolin clay will help deter them from feeding in this way.
Pest thrips multiply and spread rapidly, feeding on all kinds of fruit, vegetables, and ornamental plants.
They can cause leaf damage, harm stems, and buds, so an infestation might require you to take some fairly radical action.
You may be waiting for those blooms to burst into flower, but pruning to cut off infested plant parts may mean healthy plants, late season.
13. Use the Hose
Another simple home remedy for getting rid of thrips is to use the hose.
These bugs are not good flyers and find it even more difficult in moist air. As a result, using the hose to produce a fine mist can restrict their movement.
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. Moreover, 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, yellow, brown, or translucent white. Using these natural methods to control them may mean that you will be able to enjoy vibrant plants again.