Thrips are tiny insects which have piercing mouth parts which can do damage to most any plant. If given the chance, they will take advantage of garden species as well as common landscape vegetation spreading disease and causing damage. Since they will readily live on just about any type of plant, it is important to control outbreaks when first identified to help keep damage and populations in check. A few thrips can easily go unnoticed; a large infestation can decide the local plants are not enough to eat and once they start stinging people and pets, you will surely know they are present.


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THRIPThrips are small insects, measuring about 1/25 to 1/8 of an inch long. They range in color from clear to white to yellow to brown to black. It is generally believed local populations will take on a color similar to that of the plant they are mostly feeding upon. Although there are Tobacco thrips or Flower thrips, it is evident they are not specie specific and they can in fact live on just about any type of plant which is able to provide them with a source of sap, juice and water.

Thrips may or may not have wings but most stages do and these are clear and feather like. Thrips are mobile and will crawl, jump, walk and fly to any target they focus upon. Their light bodies and wing structure enable them to ride wind currents great distances allowing them to find new food and nest locations as needed. Though plants are generally where they want to be nesting, water and high moisture seem to be more important.

Its not uncommon for local activity to be centered around some area in the landscape holding water. This may serve as a prime reproductive ground for them to go through their pupal stage and to provide protection during times of drought or plant dormancy. This is more typical in the northern regions; in the southern growing zones thrips will remain active year round.



  1. The life cycle of a thrip is unique and fast. Eggs are laid on plant tissue and hatching young will immediately begin to feed on any part of the plant which presents sap and vital fluids containing nutrition.
  2. After a week or so, larva will pass through two stages having eaten during this time.
  3. Once the third stage begins eating will stop and at this stage some may even develop wings, fly off or simply crawl down into leaf litter and mulch to pupate. It is probably the hatching of the pupa which are most responsible for the cases involving biting thrips.
  4. The fourth stage, the pupa, is where they turn into fully mature adults ready to mate and reproduce. Females have the unique ability to lay eggs which will prosper whether they mate with a male or not. In general, eggs produced from fertile females will yield offspring of either sex; eggs generated by females which could not find males will produce nothing but males. This biased result insures the local population gets a good balance for the future since thrips develop so quickly.

THRIP ON GRASSThis whole process from egg to adult can happen in as little as two weeks depending on the species and the local environment. For this reason its important to realize just how quickly a few can turn into a few thousand and further explains why it is all important to head off these developing colonies and populations when first found.



Though rapid development of thrips by itself may not seem like reason to stop this small, innocent insect from having it’s time in the sun, the damage and discomfort it will cause is more than enough. Here are some of the common problems associated with having thrips active and living on plants in or around the home.

  1. The sucking and piercing mouth parts of thrips are enough to cause substantial damage to any plant. Young plants are more vulnerable and targeted more; older more established vegetation can be seriously damaged as well when a large enough population is feeding on vital sap – the life’s blood of any plant – during the dry and stressful hot season.
  2. Leaves of vegetation will turn brown and curl causing them to loose their ability to provide shelter and perform life sustaining photo synthesis. Defoliation can occur as well which can mean the certain death for some plants.
  3. The biting and sucking of thrips is responsible for the transmission of plant disease including many types of fungus and virus.
  4. Thrips will readily sting people and pets. Though not generally identified as a biting pest, thrips are readily attracted to people. This is thought to happen because people perspire. This moisture will readily attract thrips seeking a drink during hot dry spells. However, they will readily land on people once populations get large and begin foraging and migrating. As host plants get filled with thrips and sap begins to dry and deplete, thrips will begin to move away by flying, jumping and crawling.


Yes. Any time people are in close proximity to hatching thrip pupae, they will become targets as hungry thrips turn to anything in their way which provide nutrition. Stings will hurt and cause rashes. Its also believed the fourth stage of thrips, the pupa, will readily target people as they hatch. This is common in landscape which has high moisture. Well irrigated lawns, flower beds and gardens are prime targets for pupating thrips and when people move about in the yard they will in turn awaken the developing thrips causing them to hatch. At that time their first goal is to eat because they will emerge quite hungry.

If people are still present, they will become immediate targets. Since thrips are small, it s not uncommon for them to go unseen and many times misidentified as either a No-seeum, a mosquito or some type of biting fly. The fast flying Thrip is the common culprit and since they can pass through just about any window screen, they will readily find their way into homes. Once in the home, people and pets will become targets for food; potted plants will become the prime location for egg laying and reproduction.

If you’ve been targeted by thrips and find their bites to be itchy, BITE SWABS can be applied to the skin for itch relief.

Sting Relieve Swabs



For skin with long term damage, extensive scabbing or rash like patches, use GENES CREAM. Made with all natural ingredients, this formulation is designed to help relieve the itch and discomfort associated with thrip bites and in turn, allow for rapid healing.

Soothing Cream






To help keep active thrips from biting, 100% DEET will keep them off treated skin. Use it on arms, legs and necks to keep them away. 100% Deet is strong enough to remain active all day and will repel any flying pest.

Deet 100%




A longer lasting repellent are BUG BANDS. They use citronella for actives and no doubt easier to deploy. Plus they can last 2-4 weeks.

Bug Band






For plants prone to getting infested every summer, treat them with PEST RID every 30 days to keep them insect free. This organic spray is made with plant oil and food grade actives which act as a repellent for certain insects including thrips. It’s safe to spray on plants like roses, privets, azalea’s and anything thrips like to infest. Pest Rid will not kill insects and only repels them so once you get infested, you’ll be better served using one of the traditional sprays listed below.

Pest Rid Spray






Thrips can be managed using a range of organic gardening approved products including traps and sprays.



For random thrip activity in the yard, THRIP TRAPS can be placed where activity is noticed. They’ll readily attract and capture foraging thrips and in turn, reduce the activity. Space them 10 feet apart along flower beds, mulch lines or walkways.

Thrip Traps




For plants, use hanging YELLOW GLUE TRAPS. These will work on a wide range of pests like whiteflies and aphids too.

Aphid Traps





Keep in mind that even though these traps will catch and kill a lot of pests, they should not be used as the sole method of pest eradication. Glue traps at best will only alert you to the presence of pests and cannot control or eliminate an ongoing infestation.  Nor can they protect plants from future problems.



If you have sensitive vegetables, roses or any type of plant with a small problem, spraying ORGANIC FLYING INSECT KILLER. will knock them down immediately. This is a ready to use formulation and won’t be a hazard to the plants or people eating harvested fruits or vegetables. You can use this it on fruit, vegetables, and any tree or shrub and it won’t hurt the foliage or impact growth.

Applications only last a few days so expect to use it 1-2 a week to keep things under control during the warm season.

Flying Insect Killer





A longer lasting organic option is MULTIPURPOSE INSECT KILLER. Treatments using this concentrate will last at least a week  and it’s water based so it won’t harm treated plants. Spray shrubs and garden plants too since its approved for use on fruit and vegetable producing plants.

Multi-Purpose Insect Killer







If you want something a little stronger and more traditional for the vegetable garden, go with VEGETABLES PLUS PERMETHRIN. This is a true insecticide which is odorless, easy to mix and works on just about any pest in and around the garden. Since it works well for whiteflies and aphids, Permethrin is a natural for plants which are subject to a wide range of pests including thrips. Most importantly, it is the strongest product available for use on fruits and vegetables so if you have a garden you are trying to protect, this is your best bet.

Mix 2 oz per gallon of water for maintenance spraying; 4 oz per gallon when treating established populations.

Veg Plus





When using Multipurpose Insect Killer or Vegetables Plus, a standard PUMP SPRAYER will be needed.






For large areas or gardens, CYONARA RTS might be more efficient to use. It comes in a container which hooks to your garden hose and is “ready to spray”. Basically the water from the hose will mix with the concentrate and provide the proper solution as you water with the hose. 1 jug can treat up to 1/2 acre so for large scale treatments or just to save time, Cyonara is a good way to go.







If you want the strongest thrip option available and don’t intend on treating plants to eat or plants which will produce fruits or vegetables, go with BIFEN XTS. This concentrate will handle thrips well and a little bit goes a long way. 1 oz used in 5 gallons of water will cover up to 5,000 sq/ft.






Use a HOSE END SPRAYER to apply the Bifen unless you have a large spraying system.








For plants or trees with ongoing thrip problems, systemics are the better treatment option. DOMINION FRUIT AND TREE is labeled for garden vegetables and fruit trees. You’ll need to refer to the SPECIMEN LABEL for exact rates depending on what you’re treating. But it starts at 1/2 oz per quart of water per 10 sq/ft of garden soil.





For non-fruit bearing trees and shrubs, use the more concentrated DOMINION 2L. It requires about .1 to .2 oz per inch of tree diameter. Refer to its SPECIMEN LABEL for more precise application rates or give us a call.






The great thing about either formulation of Dominion is that treatments will last a long time. Generally you only need to apply them once a year. Now they do take some time to take effect. For vegetables and fruit shrubs, 1-2 weeks. For trees, the Dominion 2L will take 30-60 days to be distributed. For this reason its best to apply them in late winter, early spring latest. But annual treatments with Dominion 2 L will generally keep the treated plants insect free a whole season.


Since thrips like it wet and moist, they’ll readily move into pine straw, wood chips, grass, thatch and dirt to pupate. If you have such areas around the home, its best to treat them with one of the sprays above during regular spraying.

For longer control compared to the sprays, apply COMPLETE LAWN GRANULES. A 10 lb bag will cover up to 5,000 sq/ft and should be applied every 3 months to prevent thrips and other pests from nesting in pine straw, flower beds and turf.

Complete Insect Killer Granules





Apply them with a good GRANULE SPREADER to insure uniform coverage. Do this quarterly – once every three months – to keep them away. But for initial treatments, once a month to start.

Scatterbox HB Granule Spreader






Once thrips get established out in the yard, they may find their way inside the home. You’ll know this is happening when people start getting bit. And if you keep plants inside the home, thrips will many times start to nest in the soil of these plants and become a permanent resident. And once this happens, they live, breed and bite all year long.

So if you’re finding thrips inside, get the outside treated as explained above.

Next, potted plants kept inside should be treated with VEGETABLES PLUS. Be sure to mist the plant’s leaves and stems so no area is missed. Next, drench the soil in the pot by mixing 2 oz per gallon of water and then using this mixture to water the plants. Vegetables Plus is odorless, won’t bother the plant and will control anything living in the soil.


To kill adults flying around the home, use PT-565. This aerosol contains pyrethrin as the active and can be used as a space spray for flying pests like thrips. It can be safely applied anywhere in the home and used as often as is needed. Expect to treat 2-3 times a day to maintain an active population if they’re breeding in the home. One can will be enough to treat an average home 5-10 times so for treating a room or two, a can should last a month or more.

PT-565 XLO





But if the problem is ongoing and the PT-565 has to be applied daily for several weeks, consider installing some AEROSOL MACHINES. These devices are small (about half the size of a cigar box), are powered by batteries and will work automatically around the clock. They’re safe to use in the home where people and pets are active yet strong enough to kill flying insects like thrips. Set one machine out for every 400 sq/ft of room you want to protect. They should be placed on a shelf or hung on the wall at least 5 feet hight.

Aerosol Dispenser




Inside the machine you’ll need to add a can of METERED INSECTICIDE. These cans will be releasing the same active in the PT-565 (pyrethrin) but since the machine will be doing this every 15 minutes, you’ll always have enough active ingredient working for you around the clock. This way the local thrip population will eventually be eradicated because hatching adults won’t be able to reach maturity.





One can will last 30-45 days and should be replaced when empty so the treatments can continue uninterrupted.


With the legalization of medicinal marijuana, we frequently get asked for “pot safe chemicals”. The most common pests found on marijuna are thrips, whiteflies, symphilids, fungus gnats and spider mites. No doubt marijuana plants will readily attract a wide range of insect pests and many of these can prove devastating to the growers crop. So are there products specifically for use on marijuana?

Not really. You see, since there are countless thousands of plants, it’s simply not possible to list them all on any one specimen label. And since legally growing marijuna is just a fledgling business, it will take some time before the products on the market start to list this plant specifically.

So at this time the “strongest” chemicals are limited to non edible plants like ornamentals. Since these do not yield edible fruit or vegetables, the actives used on them can be long lasting. Such products (live Avid), should NOT be used on marijuana.

But anything approved for organic gardening or labels which are ORMI certified can be considered. These products typically have a short life on the plant and if the active ingredient isn’t “lingering” with persistent residue or residual action, there is no chance of exposure to people consuming the harvest.

In fact, one way to determine if a product might be leaving a long lasting residue or residual is to check the label to learn the “days to harvest” value. If this number is 1 day or less, it means the chemical being applied is essentially gone in one day.

And if a spray has a “one day to harvest” value when used on edible fruits or vegetables, its safe enough for use on marijuana. An example of such a product is the MULTIPURPOSE INSECT KILLER 567 (also listed above). Multipurpose Insect Killer is actually a combination of Soap and Pyrethrin so it’s fast acting yet very safe. Treatments won’t leave any residual (they’re gone within a day of being applied). Of course, the obvious problem with this feature is that targeted pests can come back which in turn means you’ll no doubt have to spray more frequently. But this is the trade off when using a concentrate safe enough for use on an edible fruit or vegetable plant.

Multi-Purpose Insect Killer




The other option is to “space spray” the air around your plants with a pyrethrin based aerosol like PT-565 or METERED INSECTICIDE listed above. These products use pyrethrin for actives and break down within hours of being applied. The PT-565 can be applied manually as needed; the Metered Insecticide needs to be applied using the automated AEROSOL MACHINE.

Basically you set the machine to go off on a regular schedule (the default setting is once every 15 minutes which is ideal). These two options are good choices for small green houses, closets, etc. and like the liquid sprays listed above, won’t leave persistent or long lasting chemicals on the plants.

PT-565 XLO










Aerosol Dispenser




Thrips are a common pest that will readily infest many plants in and around the home. Though small and easy to crush with your fingers, thrips are a persistent and annoying insect. Help prevent getting them on any sensitive plant because once you get them they can cause a lot of damage to host vegetation as well as spread disease. Use the Flying Insect Killer for prevention; use either Insecticidal Soap, Permethrin Concentrate or Talstar once you have them and want to eliminate local populations. Permethrin or Deltamethrin Dust are two other products that will work to knock out existing colonies once found and if you have a lot of damp mulch areas where they are nesting, use some ECO Exempt Granules for long term control and residual. By keeping this small but troublesome pest under control you will assuredly keep local plants protected and not enable them to get so populated that they start stinging people.


Give us a call if you need further help. Our toll free is 1-800-877-7290 and we’re open Monday through Thursday, 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM. On Friday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM and on Saturday, 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time).

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Comments on THRIP CONTROL Leave a Comment

February 8, 2012

Herb @ 8:41 am #


How about using an Aphid and Whitefly Trap? This product is a hanging strip, which eliminates Aphids, Mooches Blanches, Aphidens and THRIPS! Safe and effective.

Herb @ 10:55 pm #


I thank you for the help and will definitely spray. But tell me if you will. I had Thrips in Nov 2011. Since then the garden is empty. Should I spray before putting in a new crop?
@Tech Support:

February 9, 2012
April 9, 2012

Linda @ 8:38 am #


I have a problem with thrips in the plant room. I grow about 300 African Violets in a specially constructed addition to the home. It has it’s own air/heating system separate from the rest of the house. All violets are grown under lights on 7 1/2 stands, three shelfs each. I have used aged Conserve sprayed three times at weekly intervals but still have the darned buggers. Since I compete at the regional and national level showing the violets, as well as hybridize them, I need effective control which will not harm the flowers or show residue on the leaves.

May 16, 2012

cristina @ 3:54 pm #


These bugs are all over our yard. They bite like crazy. How do I find their nest? I want them gone! My baby likes to play outside but not with them biting her all the time. Please help!

May 29, 2012

lisa @ 10:51 am #


I have had thrips on my white rocking chairs on my deck last summer and now they have returned once again so to sit in the chairs is impossible. I don’t see them anywhere but on the rockers. If you could please recommend on how to get rid of them and keep them away I would appreciate it. I have small children so don’t want to use anything harmful or that will ruin the chairs.

May 30, 2012
June 17, 2012

stacie @ 9:58 pm #


I have these insects throughout my back yard but concentrated to my pool. How can I safely get rid of them around the pool?

June 18, 2012
June 23, 2012

Bonnie @ 3:33 pm #


What colors are these? I got bit twice by the black bugs shown in the picture inside but have also been bitten many times outside by even smaller orange bugs that look the same shape from what I can see. The orange ones are about the size of three pen dots lined up. Can you help? Thank you!

July 6, 2012

Don @ 6:49 pm #


I thought I had a Thrip infection on my southern pea crop until I read your answers to other readers. I have similar size black bugs that cover some of the pods entirely. The residue on the pods and on my hands after picking peas is rust colored to reddish. These bugs have not stung or bitten me. Do you think I have thrips and if not do you recommend the same treatment? Thanks: Don

July 7, 2012
July 15, 2012

Andy @ 11:22 am #


How do you get rid of them on the house? We have something in our house that is biting or stinging only me. It’s grey and looks almost like a gnat, but it appears to jump rather than fly. Could these be thrips?

September 21, 2012

Melissa @ 8:21 pm #


Hello – I had a springtail nightmare earlier this year caused by rotting wood underneath doors and windows. All of that is in the process of being replaced. In addition to the springtails, I have found quite a few thrips – six spotted and black hunter – in the basement and garage. There is quite a bit of old mulch and weeds around the front of the house – all of that will be removed and rock put down in its place. No vegetation whatsoever will be within 2 feet of the house where the yard starts. I will use what is suggested for the yard – is this ok to use this time of year?

As for the house – what is good to start killing these stinging bugs? I had to move out because of the population of the springtails and have 3 to 4 weeks before I move back and moisture issues are repaired. Any advice?

September 22, 2012
September 23, 2012

Jaclyn @ 11:57 am #


I have worm like maggots falling from my trees. Do you think it could be thrips?

October 17, 2012

Tamra Murray @ 12:48 pm #


Please help! I live in Calgary, Canada so thrips are not a common problem here. We bought gladiolas and orchids – put them in our bathroom- then there were piles of tiny bugs! Both me and my cat started being bitten. I even have combed them from my hair. Nobody else in the family seems to be affected. I had an entomologist at our University identify it for me. He did not id the species- just said how surprised he was that I have thrips! Now I can’t get rid of them! What do I do? Local exterminators say they are not a “registered” pest here and won’t spray for them. Can they survive freezing? What do I spray? Where would the eggs be hiding? All info is appreciated!

October 23, 2012

Anonymous @ 1:11 pm #


What can I use on my hibiscus that can kill thrips and aphids at the same time?
Thank you,

May 1, 2013

Anonymous @ 10:31 pm #


Do thrips feed on lawn grass and damage lawn grass in the same way they damage ornamentals, fruits and vegetables?

May 6, 2013

andy @ 2:52 pm #


I have mostly gravel in my backyard with some flower, plant and vegetable beds (2-3 months away from any produce). Do I need to apply thrip treatment just for the plant, flower and vegetable beds or the gravel areas as well? I was thinking of following this treatment unless you suggest otherwise.

Essentria Granules:


Bug Patrol:

May 11, 2013

Tom @ 8:54 am #


Thrips are attacking my tomato and pepper seedlings. Can I use diatomaceous earth to kill them?

June 12, 2013

Naz @ 9:09 am #


I am working in a tissue culture lab and our cultures in a particular growth room are badly infected with thrips. I could not figure out the source of this contamination. We used cypermethrin to kill the thrips on the surfaces. But inside the culture bottles, I do not know how to treat it. I still can see thrips crawling. Can you please suggest me the best way to get rid of it? Will I have to loose all my cultures in the affected growth room?

July 10, 2013

barrow907 @ 7:51 am #


I just noticed some tiny brownish bugs about a week ago on my kitchen counter. Then found some in my sugar and underneath our cutting board where we keep our sugar and fruits and veggies. There were about 50-75 of those tiny bugs underneath the cutting board. I sprayed Clorox all over my kitchen counter and in the cracks of my tile thinking I killed all of them. But once the Clorox dried about 10 – 15 of those tiny bugs would show up again. I’ve been killing them on contact as I see them – I noticed they come out from the cracks in my tile and in between the counter and the oven. I’ve even vacuumed the cracks and corners but they’re still showing up. I have 6 six children ranging from 15 years old to 4 months old. How can I get rid of these bugs for good?

June 8, 2015

mohammed @ 9:57 am #


We found a lot of thrips inside tissue culture tubes. It causes a big problem for us. We tried a lot of mechanisms but nothing changed. Many pesticide were used and we sterilized everything but its still there. Please help….

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