Will Thrips Ruin My Harvest? Helpful Tips

Thrips suck out plant sap from leaves, leaving the plant withered. So yes, thrips can ruin your harvest. But fear not because there are ways to stop them! Read all about them here.


Thrips are one of the biggest pest problems that planters can face. Thrips can reproduce all year round, and some of them can lay as many as 80 eggs in one go. These bugs reproduce fast, spread quickly, and cause extensive damage because 

In severe cases, these common pests can lead to total crop failure. Here, we are going to talk about thrips and how to identify their damage and control them.


Will Thrips Ruin My Harvest


Identifying Thrips Damage

Thrips are slender insects that feed on the sap of plants. They can cause extensive damage to crops and gardens, and thrips infestations are difficult to control

Here are three signs to look out for if you are worried about a thrips infestation:

  • Thrip damage appears as small, dark spots on leaves and flowers. 
  • The spots may be surrounded by a yellow halo, and the leaves may become twisted or deformed. 
  • Heavily-infested plants may turn yellow or brown and drop their leaves.

Thrips feed on plants by puncturing them and sucking up the plant juices. They are natural predators of many farm crops, such as avocados, onions, peppers, grapes, strawberries, etc. Some thrips are more interested in flowers and fruits, while others are in crops. 

However, certain thrips can also be beneficial because they prey on other harmful insects, such as aphids and whiteflies. Many commercial greenhouses use thrips as a natural way to control these other pests.

What parts of plants do thrips attack?

Thrips attack a wide range of plant parts, including flowers, leaves, and stems. In particular, they are attracted to the soft tissue of young plants. This can include the tips of leaves, flower buds, and young shoots. 

Greenhouse thrips can also cause damage by feeding on the chlorophyll in leaves, which can result in stunted growth or yellowing of the leaves. In addition, thrips can transmit viruses from one plant to another, which can cause serious illness or death in plants.

How to spot thrip damage to leaves

Look for small, dark spots on the leaves and flowers of your plants. Insects like Western flower thrips and spider mites create spots that may be surrounded by a yellow halo, and the leaves may be twisted or deformed. 

If you see these symptoms, check the undersides of the leaves for small, dark-colored insects. If you find these insects, they are likely thrips.


Will Thrips Ruin My Harvest


Controlling Thrips

Thrips are tiny, winged insects that feed on plant tissues. Thrip control is important in harvesting because these pests can damage the quality of the crop. 

There are different to control thrips, depending on which environment the crop is in. Each method has its own set of pros and cons, so be sure to choose the one that will work best for your particular situation.

  • Mass trapping: One of the most commonly used ways to control thrips is mass trapping them with sticky traps and tapes. These traps work because thrips are attracted to bright colors and circular patterns.
  • Organic measures: Some beneficial insects such as lacewings, ladybugs, and mites work as natural predators to thrips. Releasing these insects in your harvest to feed on thrips and their larvae can work to control them. This is also a chemical-free way of controlling thrip infestations. 
  • Insecticides: The use of insecticide sprays, chemicals, and solutions on plants can prove effective in controlling thrip infestations. Dimethoate is one of the most powerful pesticide solutions for thrips. Spinosad, neem oil, and orange oil are also good options.

Preventing Thrips

There are several different ways that you can implement to prevent thrips and predatory mites in your garden or home.

  • Regularly inspect leaves for signs of an infestation. Combine this with removing plant debris regularly from the soil, which will remove any larvae present in the soil. 
  • You can also use floating covers over plants when they just start growing, which will prevent seeds from being damaged.
  • Another strategy can be to use plants like marigolds, which will attract thrips leaving other precious plants in your garden safe.
  • Aluminum foil is known to blind and disorient thrips, stopping them from infesting your plants. You can also use kaolin clay and diatomaceous earth, but these methods are slightly less effective.


Will Thrips Ruin My Harvest


Frequently Asked Questions

How serious can a thrip infestation get?

Thrip infestation can be quite severe, leading to extensive crop damage and even yield loss. In extreme cases, entire crops may need to be destroyed to prevent the spread of thrip infestation.

Do thrips damage all kinds of plants?

No, thrips damage primarily occurs on flowering plants. The larvae and adults of some species of thrips feed on the flowers and leaves of plants, causing them to wilt and discolor.

What is a sure sign of thrip infestation?

A sure sign of thrip infestation is the presence of adult thrip adults or larvae. Thrips are very small winged insects that are most often found in flowers or on leaves. They can also be found in other areas of the plant, such as in the stems or on the fruit. 

Can all thrips do crop damage?

There are 6500 species of thrips, and all of them feed on plants of different kinds. So yes, they can damage crops such as onion, garlic, pepper, strawberries, blueberries, and many others. However, not all thrips are damaging to crops. Some of them are also beneficial because they ward off other pests.


Will Thrips Ruin My Harvest


Wrap Up

Thrips can cause huge damage to your harvest. So when you suspect an infestation, make sure to act fast. 

There are many methods used in thrip control, including mass trapping, using beneficial insects like ladybugs, and pesticide solutions.

Preventive methods such as regular pruning of leaves and clearing of soil around infested plants will help to keep these bugs in check.


  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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