What Do Thrips Look Like?

Thrips are small sucking insects that penetrate leaves, flowers and buds to siphon juice out of plants, leaving behind silvery or dark marks on leaves and flowers, disfigured fruit or flowers and other signs. Their damage may manifest itself as silvery- or dark-colored marks as well as deformed fruits or flowers and other symptoms on affected plants.

Thrips insects leave behind dark deposits known as “thrips poop”, in addition to leaf stippling. Keep an eye out for both.


Thrips is one of the most destructive pests threatening crops and houseplants, using its mouthparts to pierce plant juices for sucking out. Difficult to detect without the aid of a hand lens, these insects often go undetected until visible symptoms such as fungal disease symptoms or nutritional deficiencies arise. Their feeding causes leaf stippling or flecking; distortion of buds, flowers and fruit; shriveled or curled leaves with silvery areas around their bodies – as well as spread diseases among plants!

Adult adults of this species are long, narrow insects with two pairs of strap-like wings which lie flat against them when at rest. Spot them by shaking vegetation over white paper sheets – once visible they can easily be removed with paper towels.

Female thrips lay their eggs in tiny slits on leaves, flower petals, stems or fruit skins, where they hatch after 7-14 days of being laid out on surfaces like leaves, petals, stems or fruit skins. When first laid they appear white but gradually change color until becoming pale yellow with maturity. Once hatched they resemble adults in appearance but lack wings. After feeding for 7-14 days they drop to the soil to pupate before emerging as winged adults from its depths.

Thrips californicus is an easily recognized species of thrips found on many vegetable and ornamental crops grown in gardens and greenhouses, while Eastern Flower Thrips, Thrips carolinae is more widely spread throughout southern states while Cycadothrips acts as pollinators of Australian rainforest plants such as Wilkiea huegeliana or Cycadothrips.

Thrips are among the most dreaded garden and greenhouse pests, commonly damaging crops like apples, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, eggplants, lettuce, peppers, potatoes, strawberries squash tomatoes. Furthermore, thrips damage many popular flowers like begonias carnations dahlia daylily chrysanthemum gerbera daisy begonia carnations dahlia dahlia dahlia daylily dahlia daylily daylily daylily daylily daylily daylily daylily daylily chrysanthemum gerbera daisy. Thrips damage is known to damage cultivated plants like Agave attenuata and Aloe vera which results in reduced crop production or reduced yield for commercial or home growers alike.


Gardeners recognize thrips as pesky winged pests that feed off plants, damaging and devouring them. Their mouthparts are designed for sucking out sap from plant tissues while simultaneously sucking it out again, but these insects also secrete an irritating sticky substance which causes wilting, discoloration and deformation – not to mention volatile substances that alert predators of danger and warn other thrips about approaching danger!

Both adults and larval thrips can do considerable damage to plants. Adult thrips are small insects ranging from 1/50th inch to 1/25 inches long with long, thin bodies. Their narrow fringed wings make them poor fliers; instead they lay eggs in cuts or on leaves and stems of plants where cuts occur, with rasping mouthparts sucking up sap to feed on its nectar-rich sap reserves before secreting varnish-like liquid that coats leaves and flowers, turning them gray or silvery-gray in appearance.

Thrips infestation often manifests itself with tiny black spots on plant leaves and petals caused by its feces settling on them, as well as with stippling or wrinkled foliage.

Thrips is known to drain juices from fruit, leading to its skin splitting open on grape or other soft-fruited plants and leading to their eventual spoilage. Thrips’ presence can often be identified by an airborne sweet, musky aroma.

When it comes to thrips prevention, planting varieties resistant or tolerant of them is the best strategy, along with clearing away debris in your garden that could hide thrips. Natural repellents like garlic, oregano or basil may help deter pests as well. Sticky traps that capture and hold thrips as well as planting specific species such as scented geraniums may be effective methods; while blue-hued sticky traps tend to work more effectively at attracting them than standard yellow ones.


Thrips infestation can be treated using various strategies, from horticultural oils that suffocate pests to insecticidal soaps and chemical sprays. Thorough coverage with these chemical pesticides should occur at key spots like underside of leaves where leaf attachment meets stem – ideal spots where thrips like to gather.

Thrips feed by piercing and sucking out the contents of plant cells, leading to visible symptoms such as streaking, yellowing, stippling or deformed buds, flowers or fruits. They may also spread harmful pathogens which make this issue far more serious than simply aesthetic. Thrips attack many crops and ornamentals; however they often prefer newer growth that’s soft and vulnerable.

Symptoms depend on both the species of thrips and plant type; however, their general pattern remains consistent: soft, tender growth is targeted first by these insects, along with buds, flower petals, fruits and flowers. Damage may appear similar to nutritional or disease symptoms as the pests chew at soft tissue to access its resources and fluids.

Thrip poop, which appears in the form of tiny black dots on leaves, is another telltale sign. The thrips’ waste contains bacteria they use to digest their food; sometimes this residue appears on fruit as well.

Indoor plant care should also include isolating newly imported houseplants for at least 30 days to prevent spreading thrips to other houseplants in your collection. Monitor them frequently for signs of thrips infection and treat accordingly.

Thrips insects are attracted to many varieties of vegetable and fruit crops outside, including apples, asparagus, avocados, beans, carrots, cabbage corn cucumber eggplant lettuce onion peppers strawberries tomatoes squash etc. Additionally, ornamental trees and shrubs such as azalea dogwood gardenia magnolia lily of valley rhododendron viburnum trees and shrubs may become hosts to an infestation by these parasites.

For an effective method to monitor thrips populations, set out bright-colored sticky traps near crop openings to catch adults of this thrips species. These sticky traps come in various colors such as white, yellow and hot pink to help you track population activity as well as flight activity of this pest. Neem oil acts as both an natural insecticide and leaf shine and may also help control it on vulnerable plants.


Small thrips insects that attack plants may be hard to spot when feeding, but telltale damage caused by these pests includes distorted fruits and vegetables, wrinkled leaves and flowers, silvery-appearing older stems and silvery appearance of older leaves as well as black spots within flowers. With proper knowledge and identification techniques you can detect early signs of infestation so it can be addressed before it spirals out of control.

Adult thrips are slim insects ranging in color from yellow to brown or black with fringed wings that tend to jump or fly away when disturbed, but can often be easily identified by looking for small dark deposits on leaves and stems. Immature thrips (called nymphs) look similar but are lighter-colored versions of their adult counterparts.

Thrips eggs hatch within three to five days in plant tissue. A single female can produce millions of offspring within just weeks; left unchecked, these infestations will quickly spread throughout your garden or house and threaten its inhabitants’ plants and even furniture.

Though it’s impossible to completely avoid thrips infestation, you can limit its spread by not purchasing plants already infected with these pests from nurseries or transporting soil and other items with them home. If a new plant does arrive at home, quarantine it separately until you’re certain it’s free from these insects.

Increase humidity in your indoor plants using a humidifier, while cleaning outdoor woody and herbaceous plants regularly to avoid thrips settling on their leaves. Also get into the habit of showering them off regularly using your faucet’s spray head – particularly the undersides of leaves where thrips often gathers – in order to flush away unwanted visitors such as thrips.

Sticky traps may also help catch and reduce thrips populations, although this method may not be as efficient. Spraying neem oil or another natural insecticide would likely prove more successful.

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