Got a thrips infestation on hand? Worried about spraying pesticides or chemicals in your house? This blog will show you how to get rid of thrips naturally without harming your home and loved ones.
A thrips infestation can turn into a major nightmare if you have several plants in your house. Despite being tiny, these slender insects pose a huge threat because they multiply fast and only get noticed after they have done their damage.
You need to act fast to save your plants from severe thrips damage. But no one likes spraying chemical pesticides in their home, so let us look at some natural ways to get rid of thrips.
What Do Thrips Look Like?
Before you can go about getting rid of thrips, you need to identify them. These pests are extremely small, with adult thrips being only 0.2 to 0.4 inches long.
Color varies among different species of thrips, but they usually appear as tiny brown or black flecks on the leaves. However, younger thrips, also known as nymphs, may be yellow or green. These pests have small fringed wings that help them jump or fly around.
Due to their tiny size, thrips can be very hard to detect. If you suspect that your plant has thrips on it, shake the leaves over a white piece of paper. This will cause the pest thrips to fall on the paper, where they’ll be very easy to spot.
Does Neem Oil Kill Thrips?
Neem oil is one of the best natural alternatives to chemical pesticides and contains many insecticidal elements, including Azadirachtin. These elements stop pests from breeding and growing. It is very effective at eliminating thrips as well.
How Often To Spray Neem Oil for Thrips?
Before you start using neem oil to eliminate thrips, keep in mind that you don’t need to spray neem oil as often as insecticidal soap.
Ideally, you should spray neem oil on the infected plants only once a week. Although neem oil might take a couple of weeks to deliver results, it’s much more effective.
Take care not to keep your skin exposed to neem oil when spraying it. Wear gloves and a mask, preferably. Neem oil can cause irritation in the eyes and skin.
Does Diatomaceous Earth Kill Thrips?
Yes, diatomaceous earth is one of the quickest natural ways to get rid of thrips. Obtained from the powdered sediments of fossilized algae, Diatomaceous earth contains 80-90% silica and has powerful insecticidal properties. It kills thrips and other pests simply by dehydrating them.
Wondering how to apply diatomaceous earth, as it isn’t a liquid? Well, just dust the infected plant with the powder, covering every bit of its surface.
Also, put a 1-inch-deep layer of diatomaceous earth on the soil, from the stem to just outside the plant’s drip line. This layer will kill dormant nymphs (young thrips) landing on the soil and stop them from pupating.
Does Aluminum Foil Blind Thrips?
The reflective nature of aluminum blinds and disorients thrips. While bright surfaces attract adult thrips, the light reflecting from the foil confuses them.
Laying an aluminum foil on the soil surrounding your plant is a smart way to prevent thrips from infesting it. You may also make mulch out of aluminum foil and sprinkle it around seedlings to ward off thrips.
All the light reflecting off the foil will also hide your seedlings from the pests. However, this method is less effective for plants with a lot of foliage.
Do Essential Oils Kill Thrips?
Like neem oil, essential oils from a variety of plants like cinnamon, orange, rosemary, etc., find application as natural insecticides and insect repellants. Essential oils are neurotoxic to insects and can kill thrips on contact.
Moreover, the strong aromas of these oils help keep away those pesky bugs too, which makes them an effective solution against thrips infestations.
To apply essential oil to your plants, dilute it with water and spray it over the leaves and the stem. Two drops of orange and cinnamon oil each in 240 ml of water is an excellent essential oil solution to counter thrips.
Can Spinosad Kill Thrips?
This biological insecticide is very effective against large thrips infestations. It kills thrips by paralyzing their nervous systems. Spinosad can also move into plant tissues, which allows it to destroy thrips eggs or kill thrips in more the protected areas of the plant.
However, before you decide to go ham on the thrips with a Spinosad spray, keep in mind that this biological insecticide is also toxic to other insects, such as the predatory mites that kill thrips.
You might want to avoid using Spinosad unless the infestation is severe or you want to eliminate the thrips very quickly. Also, avoid using Spinosad on flowering plants as it can kill bees pollinating the flowers.
Does Sulfur Kill Thrips?
Sulfur is a natural fungicide and pesticide that eliminates thrips by hampering their metabolic functions. While sulfur is available in abundance and is very effective against pests, there are a few downsides.
Firstly, it isn’t compatible with essential oils and certain other pesticides. The resulting reaction can damage the plants. Secondly, sulfur can be harmful to plants when applied during hot and dry weather conditions.
All of the above are proven ways of getting rid of thrips. However, if those methods don’t work out for some reason or simply aren’t viable for you, here are some other methods that you may try.
Run a Lint Roller on the Leaves
If you’d prefer to get the job done without having to use any pesticides, this is a reliable way to go about it. With a lint roller, you can simply pick up the thrips from your plant and remove them.
Just support the leaf with a hand and run the lint roller over it. The sticky surface of the long roller will trap the thrips as well as their eggs, pulling them off the plant.
Don’t forget to repeat the process with the undersides of the leaves too. Tear off the part of the lint roller that you used to capture the thrips, and throw it outdoors among the trash so that the pests can’t get back in your house.
Sticky traps have the same basic working principle as lint rollers – they trap the pests using the glue on their surface. A sticky trap is just a small piece of colorful cardboard with glue applied to one side.
When you hang a bright-colored (preferable blue) sticky trap next to an infected plant, the color will attract the thrips onto the trap. And voila! They’ll get stuck in the glue as they try to land on the trap.
Blue sticky traps are the most effective against thrips, but yellow works well too. However, do remember that sticky traps work well only against adult thrips that can fly or jump. You’ll have to use a different method to deal with the nymphs and the eggs.
Diluted isopropyl alcohol on the leaves
Applying diluted isopropyl alcohol on the leaves is another way to defeat those annoying thrips. Make a solution of 3 to 5 parts of isopropyl alcohol to one part of water. Now, dip a ball of cotton in the solution and wipe the plant with it.
The isopropyl alcohol will dissolve the exoskeletons of the pests and cause them to dry up and die. This method is highly effective and delivers quick results. While you’re at it, also cover the undersides of the leaves.
This is yet another method for those who want quick results without using any pesticides. The method is similar to using a lint roller, but you’ll be using a vacuum cleaner instead.
The powerful suction created by the vacuum cleaner can easily remove at least a quarter of the thrips during each run. When removing thrips with a vacuum cleaner, it’s best to remove any nozzle and use just the tube.
However, if your vacuum cleaner’s tube has an adjustable vent, you’ll have to experiment a little until you figure out an opening that won’t damage your plant in any way.
Blasting thrips away with water
In case you don’t have a vacuum cleaner or can’t use it without causing damage to the leaves and the flowers, you may wash away the thrips with water instead.
All you have to do is spray the whole plant with a low-power pressure washer or a hose/nozzle with your thumb on it to increase water pressure. Doing this daily for a couple of weeks can help you get rid of the thrips completely, including the newly hatched larvae.
Kaolin clay, also known as China clay, is a natural mineral mostly known for its applications in the manufacture of porcelain, rubber, paint, and paper. However, kaolin clay is also very effective in protecting your plants from thrips infestations.
Don’t worry; you won’t have to make a muddy mess by coating your plant with clay. You simply have to mix the kaolin clay with water and spray it over the plant.
It will create a protective film of powdery residue over the plant and prevent the thrips from feeding on it or burrowing it in to lay eggs. As a non-toxic substance, Kaolin clay won’t harm any beneficial insects or bees.
This is your last resort against a major thrips infestation. If thrips have badly infested a part of the plant and other measures aren’t working, get your pruning tools and carefully remove the infected leaves and branches.
As thrip damage to leaves won’t heal back anyway, getting rid of the heavily infested leaves will also make your plant look better and allow it to use its nutrients for new growth.
Do not put the pruned leaves in your compost heap, as it may allow the thrips to make their way back to your plants.
This is more of a preventive measure than a way to eliminate thrips. Certain plants, such as marigold, basil, garlic, etc., have pest-repelling abilities. Having them in your garden or home will help keep away thrips.
As long as you don’t mind having some beneficial insects on your plants, you may use them as a defense mechanism against thrips. Insects like ladybugs, mites, and lacewings feed on thrips and other smaller pests, thus keeping your plants safe.
While this may not be a viable option for houseplants, you should consider letting these helpful insects thrive in your garden.
How To Get Rid of Thrips on Cannabis?
Thrips are the most common pests drawn to cannabis plants. Trifecta Crop Control is very effective against pests. As a part of your Integrated Pest Management, you may use it alongside a beneficial fungus called Beauveria.
You should consider using them in rotation rather than at the same time, as crop control breaks down Beauveria. This is one of the anti-thrips defenses for cannabis plants. Other solutions like Spinosad, neem oil, diatomaceous earth, insecticidal soaps, etc., can also work.
Thrips have short life cycles of about 45 days at most, including the larval nymph stages. However, they can reproduce up to 12 times every year, and female thrips can reproduce asexually without a mate.
This is what allows thrips populations to multiply rapidly. Avoid leaving plant debris under infected plants and take necessary measures to eliminate the thrip infestation before it forces you to prune large parts of your beloved plant.