Do Thrips Fly? Truth Revealed

Thrips can infest common house plants and jump from one plant to another, causing a lot of damage. But can thrips fly through the air as well? Or do they just jump? Let’s find out.

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Thrips are one of the most common pests that infest your houseplants. And yes, they have wings. Scientists have identified nearly 6,500 species of thrips, and most of these are winged insects.

Their wings help them move from one plant to another, which is why they are able to infest plants so quickly. Let us discuss more thrips’ wings and how they spread themselves.

 

Thrips

 

Can Thrips Fly?

Yes, thrips can fly. Most thrips that you might find on common outdoor plants are winged insects. Thrips cannot usually cover long distances. However, they can float around from one plant to another in a densely planted space.

This ability to fly makes it difficult to control thrips populations since they can quickly disperse to new areas. Thrips have a simple life cycle, consisting of

  • An egg stage
  • One larval stage
  • A prepupal and pupal stage
  • An adult stage

Adult female thrips lay eggs in plant tissue, underside of leaves or in other places where predators cannot easily find them.

After hatching, the larvae feed for a few days before entering the prepupal stage. It is during the prepupal and pupal stages that thrips grow wings.

What Are Their Wings Like?

Thrips have two pairs of feathery or fringed wings. Adult thrips are about one-fiftieth of an inch long, and the fringes can add a little bit of extra length to their body. 

Fun fact: the technical name for thrips is Thysanoptera, which is a greek word made by combining thysanos which means “fringe,” and ptera, which means “wings.” So they are literally named after their unique wings.

Their wings are not very good for flying, exactly because of these fringes. But instead of flying, they use their wings to mostly float around in the wind.

They usually stow away under the outer layer of plant tissue, and after they suck the plant dry, they might move on to other nearby plants by flying.

 

Thrips photo from our archives

 

Do Thrips Jump?

Yes, in fact, most of the time, thrips move by crawling or jumping. They can fly short distances, but they are not very good at it.

They use their hind legs to propel themselves into the air when they jump. Some species of thrips can leap long distances in comparison to their body size.

The Western flower thrips have been known to jump the longest distances. Other thrips species may not jump as far but can still cover significant distances about their size.

Since thrips can move around in so many ways, they easily reproduce on one plant and spread to the next. These insects proliferate quickly and cause immense damage to indoor plants.

Do Thrips Move Fast?

Yes, thrips can move fast. Thrips are tiny, so it is difficult to observe the damage they are causing. However, they can crawl, jump or fly, and wind or water can easily carry them long distances.

Thrips are also known to travel with the soil of plants. These insects lay eggs that hatch in the soil and travel with them to a new plant source. They can also hitch a ride on people or animals, which helps them spread to new areas.

They can quickly infest a plant, hatch many eggs, and within days move from an egg stage to an adult stage, sucking the plant dry of its sap in the process. Thrips can also spread diseases from plant to plant.

Because of this fast-moving behavior, it is important to check for signs of thrips in all your plants. By detecting them early, you can stop their infestation.

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do thrips fly around the house?

Yes, thrips can fly around the house and become a nuisance. They are attracted to lights, and you can find them near windows or doors.

Do thrips fly from plant to plant?

Yes, thrips can travel from plant to plant. They often do this by “hitchhiking” on soil, air, water, nearby animals, or humans that brush against the plants. Insects that land on plants can also help to transport thrips.

What do thrips look like when they fly?

Thrips are tiny, winged insects that are often mistaken for flying ants or termites. They vary in color but are usually black, brown, or pale yellow.

Thrips range in size from 1/50th to 1/25th inches long and have two pairs of feathery wings with long hairs.

It is hard to observe thrips when they are flying because they are so tiny. However, you might sometimes feel them biting your skin.

How do you get rid of flying thrips?

You need to make sure that you put insecticides or pesticides on your plants regularly. To get rid of thrips, one can use a strong spray of water on the leaves of the infested plant or sticky traps to catch the insects.

You could also release beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, to eat the thrips. It is difficult to catch hold of thrips in the air, but they don’t fly too long.

Wrap Up

A thrips infestation can be very damaging if you are unaware of how to handle them. As a plant parent, you have to keep a lookout for all your plants and protect them from unwanted troubles like these tiny insects. Thank you for reading! 

 

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