Thrips infestations can be costly and infuriating. Many consumers are hesitant to employ industrial chemicals and common pesticides or insecticides, and instead choose to opt for organic or natural treatments. In this article, we detail the effective and available options for the conscious homeowner.
Pest thrips are not just among the most common garden nuisances — they are also one of the hardest to get rid of. Thousands of individual species belong to the thrips family, and not all of them are harmful. Some thrips don’t cause damage to plants, instead preferring to munch on fallen leaves and insect debris, while certain predatory thrips should actually be welcome in the garden as they hunt down many of the pest thrips that threaten your plants.
If you know you have a thrips problem in your plants, though, it’s important to take steps to tackle the infestation as soon as possible. Pest thrips like western flower thrips can damage your plants, flowers, shrubs, vegetables, and even trees as they feed — and in addition, they can also carry over 20 varieties of tospoviruses that can quickly threaten your entire garden or greenhouse.
Both western flower thrips and other pest thrips have, research found, developed resistance to common insecticides, something made easier by their fast life cycles. After you’ve identified them, both for this reason and to protect your own health and the environment at large, you may wonder if you can get rid of thrips naturally.
Yes, you can take many steps to get rid of thrips naturally. Pest management experts have reached a consensus around the fact that organic and natural measures should always play an important part in managing pest thrips, even in cases where insecticides are also used. For the sake of transparency it is, on the other hand, important to mention that pest thrips are extremely persistent and difficult to get rid of. To have a chance at success, you will need patience, dedication, and a wide array of tools.
To be able to survive for so long, many plants have developed impressive defense mechanisms that can sometimes rival man-made insecticides and other pesticides. Neem oil, produced by the neem tree, contains azadirachtin — an impressive insecticide. Neem oil spray can be applied to thrips-infested plants in phase one of your thrips-control plan. In addition to the fact that neem oil deters thrips, those that do make contact with the substance will suffocate.
Don’t think that neem oil is safe for human health simply because it is natural, though — both inhalation and skin contact can lead to irritation! While you handle neem oil, you may consider wearing gloves and wearing an N95 respirator.
Aluminum foil is another simple but very helpful weapon in your anti-thrips arsenal, particularly if you are trying to guard vulnerable seedlings against infestations. This is because thrips are, like many other insects, attracted to white, light-colored, and reflective surfaces. By strewing large sheets of aluminum foil around your garden, near your seedlings but without covering them, you’ll stand a good chance of distracting thrips for a good while. As pest thrips swarm aluminum foil sheets, your seedlings can survive those first crucial stages of life.
Reflective mulch is also often used in the defense against thrips for the same reason, with similar success rates. These easy steps can make a big difference, without any risk!
If you have thrips in your plants, you will be doing your best to fight them. In the process, why not enlist the help of these pests’ natural enemies? The fact that other insects can play a crucial role in thrips control is, in fact, an excellent reason to choose natural thrips control methods. You want to keep bugs that kill pests like aphids and thrips, which can protect your plants.
Western flower thrips and other pest thrips can be kept in check with the help of powerful predators such as:
Many insect predators help control thrips infestations by wiping these pests out right at the start — by parasitizing their eggs, and making it difficult for new generations of thrips to flourish in your garden or greenhouse. The best part? It is now possible to order predatory insects that fight garden pests very easily, online.
The many other natural ways to get rid of thrips include:
Getting rid of thrips isn’t easy, but these natural steps can help you control this pest — and even if you do choose to turn to insecticides, it is important to also include organic pest control steps into your plan.