Thrips commonly live on the undersides of leaves but they are frequently spotted on topsides of foliage too. Thrips feed on new growth, buds and flowers.
Adult Thrips have elongated, slender bodies less than 1/20" long. Adults have long narrow wings. Immature Thrips do not have wings.
Thrips tabaci:
Immature Thrips are white to pale yellow, no wings, short antennas. Adults are pale yellow to dark brown. The white or yellow eggs of Thrips tabaci are nearly impossible to see with the naked eye.
Thrips Frankliniella occidentalis:
These Thrips range in colors from reddish-yellow to medium dark brown. In the winter months they are darker colors. Thrips occidentalis eggs are pearly-white.
Thrips infestation symptoms:
The damage Thrips create is frequently noticeable before the insects are actually detected.

Thrips scrape and pierce plant parts to make the juices come to the surface. While doing this they inject their saliva which contains substances that help predigest the plant juices. It is the saliva that causes plant damage.
Severe damage is also done when the females lay their eggs. Each egg is inserted into the plant tissue with one end pointing up so the young can emerge.

The beginning symptoms of Thrips damage on foliage is the presence of tiny little holes scattered on the leaf surface. These tiny holes turn into patches, streaks and blotches. The leaves quickly become discolored and turn a shiny silver color. In severe cases whole leaves and entire plants will turn silver/white in color. Normal photosynthesis is no longer possible. The plant loses important water and is highly vulnerable to diseases and viruses.
More about Thrips:
1- Thrips are among the worst of insects to infect plants with viruses.
2- Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus TSWV is commonly spread by Thrips.
3- The fungus, purple blotch, Alternaria porri, is also spread by Thrips.
4- Female Thrips do not need to mate to produce. Those that do not mate produce all female young.
5- The colors yellow and white commonly attract Thrips.
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Thrips Predators:
Praying Mantids
Green Lacewings
Minute Pirate Bug
amblyseius cucumeris
Lady Bug


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Last revised on April 17, 2005

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