Thrips can be devastating to plants. But what are thrips attracted to, and how can we use those things to trap them? This blog discusses mass trapping and how it can save your harvest from thrips.
Are the biocontrol measures you take to control thrips failing to free your houseplants or garden from those annoying little pests?
It’s about time that you considered other effective measures to control of thrips population. One such method is trapping them.
However, before you can go about it, you need to know what attracts adult thrips in the first place. So, let’s get to it without much ado and figure out the best ways to trap these common pests.
What Plants Attract Thrips?
Different insect species find different plants to be attractive. For example, onion thrips mostly target various cultivated crops, including onions, leek, garlic, cabbage, beans, cauliflower, cotton, broccoli, celery, tobacco, cucumber, tomatoes, strawberries, and potatoes.
The western flower thrips, on the other hand, prefer to feed on flowering plants and flower crops kept in greenhouses. Plant species most likely to attract thrips include tomato, rhododendron, hibiscus, petunia, and azalea.
If you put two and two together, you’ll notice one common characteristic among all thrips species – they are all attracted to bright colors.
Plants with bright leaves, flowers, or fruits are more likely to fall prey to these pests. This piece of information is crucial in your fight against thrips, as you now know how to make the traps (we’ll discuss them later) attractive to the thrips.
Understanding Mass Trapping
Before we get to the concept of mass trapping, let us first understand how thrips traps work in the first place. Below we’ll describe the three most common ways to trap thrips:
- Colored sticky cards and tapes: Remember we mentioned that bright colors are attractive to thrips? Putting up sticky cards traps or tapes of such colors can attract thrips through their visual cues and trap them in the glue.
- Pheromone traps: These are sticky traps too, but they go a mile further than simple colored cards. Instead of relying on colors alone, these traps use pheromones, i.e., the chemicals that insects use to communicate between themselves.
- Trap plants: You might also find it viable to sacrifice a “trap plant” to protect the remaining plants in your house or garden. Plants that can attract and retain a large thrips population (such as marigolds) are ideal candidates. Use these plants to lure a majority of the thrips and dispose of them altogether.
Among these methods, sticky traps are your best solution when it comes to mass trapping. As you might guess, mass trapping includes putting up a large number of traps to lure and capture thrips.
This isn’t something you’ll need for houseplants – setting up a few sticky traps is usually enough to do the job in your home. Mass trapping is useful in places that are prone to massive thrip infestations, such as greenhouses and plantations.
Studies have shown that mass trapping is highly successful at protecting crops from thrips infestations. Moreover, the thrips traps aren’t very expensive, which also makes mass trapping a cost-effective method.
In case you are having a hard time dealing with a high thrips population density, you should give mass trapping a try; it’s sure to deliver great results.
What Colors Are Thrips Attracted To?
Thrips are attracted to almost any bright color, but blue and yellow are the most attractive to these pests. Mass trapping almost always works using blue and yellow traps.
Between the two, blue traps are slightly more effective as the blue wavelength attracts thrips more than yellow does.
The reason why yellow sticky traps are still very common is that yellow is a broad spectrum color, which makes it attractive to a wide variety of pests.
After all, sticky traps won’t just be protecting your plants from thrips alone, but other pests are attracted to bright colors too.
Many claims that tapes and sticky card traps with patterns drawn on them attract more thrips than plain colored tapes. While this means that patterned tapes are potentially more effective at thrips control, the theory is still unsubstantiated.
Some studies have shown that patterned tapes with floral or circular patterns captured far more thrips than plain tapes (up to 450% more in one experiment); others discovered that patterns don’t help at all.
Pheromones are chemicals that various animals (including pests) secrete to communicate with others of their species and affect their behavior.
From a layman’s point of view, one could say that pheromones are very similar to hormones, but they work on other insects rather than affecting the secretor itself.
Communication carried out through the secretion of pheromones may include warning others, signaling a food source, marking territory, sexual arousal, etc.
Using pheromones in sticky traps can replicate the signals used by thrips to attract others of their species. They can help supplement the bright colors of sticky traps.
Frequently asked questions
What causes thrips to come around?
Thrips get attracted to a wide variety of common plants and flowers. However, they don’t usually fly into your house; they jump or crawl. If you have thrips in your home, it’s likely because you brought an infected plant indoors.
Can thrips live in soil?
No, thrips don’t live in the soil; they have to live on plants, leaves, and flowers to feed. However, thrips larvae may fall down in the soil and pupate there until they are ready to fly away.
Are thrips attracted to light?
Some thrips species, especially nocturnal ones, are attracted to light sources. Many thrips are also attracted to UV lights and green colored lights.
What do thrips feed on?
Thrips suck nutrients from a wide variety of hosts, such as leaves, stems, fruits, vegetables, or foodgrains. Some species of thrips also feed on pollen or fungi.
Not only do thrips feed on your plants and steal their nutrients, but they also carry various diseases. The western flower thrips, for instance, are a carrier of the necrotic spot virus.
Now that you are aware of how to lure and trap thrips, you should be able to get rid of them. Besides mass trapping, you may also make use of beneficial insects like parasitic wasps and lacewings, which are natural enemies to thrips.