Thrips usually live and breed on plants, but do thrips live in soil too? When using pesticides or other thrips repellants, do you have to spray on the soil too? Let’s find out.
Thrips are a menace to plants. If you’re wondering if these super common pests live anywhere besides the plants, your suspicions are correct.
Nymphs (young thrips) live in the soil, albeit only for a short period. This is why, when treating a thrips infestation, you must also treat the nearby soil.
Where Do Thrips Live?
Although they mostly live on outdoor plants, they can reach your houseplants by hitching a ride on a plant you take home.
When it comes to indoor plants, most thrips live on the undersides of leaves, the stem, or the branches. You may also notice some of them on the flowers, as the female thrips often lay eggs.
You won’t find adult thrips on the soil – the thrips living there are mostly larvae that fell off when the eggs hatched.
Thrip Life Cycle
The lifecycle of average thrips is about 45 to 50 days. The egg-to-adult development takes up to 16 days, while mated thrips live around five weeks.
Although their life cycle is short, thrips reproduce very fast. Female thrips can reproduce asexually and lay up to 50 eggs. Here’s a look at the different stages in the thrips life cycle:
- Thrip eggs: The female thrips do not lay the eggs on the plant’s surface – they insert those eggs into the stems or the flowers. This keeps the eggs protected and ensures a steady food supply for the newborn nymphs.
- Thrips in the soil: Often, nymphs fall into the soil after hatching out of the eggs. They are in a larval stage and remain in the soil until they pupate into adults and can fly.
- Nymph to adult: This is the final stage in the lifecycle of a thrips. The nymphs stop feeding and pupate in plant debris. They develop into adults and grow wings. They can now move freely on the plant to feed and lay eggs. The nymphs that had earlier fallen into the soil also make their way back up.
Do Thrips Lay Eggs in Soil?
Although it is a common belief that thrips lay their eggs in the soil, it’s a misconception. Thrips do not lay eggs in the soil.
They always insert the eggs into the plant so newborns can feed on plant sap. However, as explained above, thrips larvae may drop into the soil.
This is why the eggs appear to have hatched in the soil and might make one assume that’s where thrips lay their eggs. If you ever noticed thrips larvae or nymphs on the soil and wondered, you now have the answer.
How Do You Kill Thrips in Soil?
Killing thrips living in the soil may seem trickier than eliminating those on the plant, as several effective methods that work in the second scenario won’t help with the former. Here are some effective tips on how to kill thrips on the soil.
- Predatory insects: Some beneficial insects like spider mites, lacewings, pirate bugs, and ladybugs are natural predators of thrips regardless of whether they are in the soil or on the plant.
- Diatomaceous earth: This silica-rich powdery substance is deadly against various pests, including aphids and thrips.
- Neem oil: This natural compound is an excellent defense against thrips and other destructive pests. It also helps you avoid chemical pesticides.
- Insecticidal soap: This is a safer way to get rid of thrips than insecticides. It does not affect beneficial insects (because they have harder exoskeletons) and does not leave any residues on the soil.
- You can also use sticky traps, lint rollers, water sprayers, vacuum cleaners, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you get thrips from the soil?
If you put your houseplants in soil that had infected plants and now has thrips larvae, you may get those pests on your plants. This is why you should be careful when bringing home new soil or shifting any plant to the soil that had a thrip infestation in the past.
How long do thrips live in soil?
Thrips live in the soil only during the larval stage while pupating. Usually, it lasts up to 10-15 days at most.
Do thrips live in the ground?
Adult thrips do not live in the ground. However, you may notice nymphs or thrips larva on the ground – those end up there simply by falling off the plant.
What time of day are thrips most active?
Most species of thrips are the most active from 08:00 am to 10:10 am and from 02:00 am to 04:00 am. This is also the best time to treat your plants with insecticidal compounds that kill thrips by coming in contact with them.
Thrips normally live on plants, and those in the soil are larvae that fell off after hatching from their eggs. They are waiting to grow and hitch a ride to the nearest plant.
So make sure that you watch out for infected plants as well as the soil around it when you are planting a new one in your house. Thank you for reading!