The Thrips, the Plague of Viruses

If we think of the pests that can come to our plants, insects such as caterpillars, spiders, worms or bedbugs may come to mind.

However, there are others less known that, next to the aphid, are insects that form pests in more types of plants.

The thrips adapt to almost any plant and, in addition, they manage to end it in one way or another. They all know how to take advantage. If you want to know everything about the plague of thrips, this is your article.

Here you will find all the information you need about thrips, the plants they are in and how to eliminate or scare them away.

An unknown insect

It is true that thrips are normally known to people who have or have had crops at home or are engaged in agriculture since they are insects that live around cultivated surfaces. The orchards and gardens of fruits, vegetables, and other plants are the perfect habitats for them.

The insects known as thrips can belong to two distinct species, thrips tabaci, and Frankliniella occidentalis. They are small insects that have an elongated and flattened shape of no more than 1.5 millimeters in length.

However, thrips represent one of the most feared pests by horticulturists, farmers, and crop enthusiasts. They live in different temperatures, but mainly temperate environments between 15 and 20 degrees Celsius.

Like any pest, it has a quick and easy reproduction capability. In this case, the female is able to lay about 40 eggs during her life (between 50 and 70 days).

How to detect thrips?

The thrips take their food by sucking the contents of the leaves of different plants, causing the appearance of scars as well as the deformation of some parts of the plant.

Therefore, to detect thrips, the easiest way is to check the different damage that has visibly caused on our crop. You can see small yellowish spots on the leaves, as well as white or silver. Also, their droppings leave a black color on the surface of the leaf.

The damage they cause

In addition to shaving the plant, the damage caused by thrips goes much further. They can, for example, affect the pollination process, because some species of thrips take their food from flower pollen instead of the plant’s sap.

This translates into a decrease in fruit set and therefore, we will obtain a lower crop from our crop plant.

On the other hand, thrips are great transmitters of viruses and other diseases. For example, the tobacco mosaic virus, also known as TMV, is produced when thrips feed on pollen from an unhealthy plant and then come into contact with another.

The symptoms of this virus are deformations in the leaves, a yellowish color or even necrosis of both the leaf and the fruit. Other types of thrips also transmit the virus known as ‘tomato tan’.

This virus is detected in plants when yellowish spots appear on their leaves, and not only that. The fruits deform growing in the form of rings and can even cause the plant to remain dwarf forever, preventing its correct growth.

What plants do they affect?

Thrips are insects that form pests around numerous plants. Not only those of cultivation like vegetables or fruits but also of another type.

For example, azaleas, pyracantha or rhododendron are some of those that suffer their consequences. On the other hand, the most common are eggplant, cucumber, pepper, beans or zucchini.

As for the fruit, watermelons, melons or nectarines do not escape thrips.

How to prevent or avoid thrips?

Now that you know some of the damage that these little insects can cause, you are probably thinking of avoiding at all costs their appearance in your crop, if you have not already received that unwanted visit.

Well, do not worry, because it is possible to scare them away or at least avoid their appearance with some preventive measures. Take note.

  • Your eyes have an important role. It’s that simple. Try to take a look at your plants from time to time more carefully than normal, to see if they are in good health if they look good and above all if any symptoms of disease or pest have appeared. This will help you act quickly if necessary.
  • This recommendation is constant to avoid all types of pests, not just trips because it is the most important when growing any type of vegetable, fruit tree or other usual crops. It is as simple as maintaining proper care. And what does it mean to be appropriate? Neither excessive nor deficient. Always ensure that the state is ideal, that they have the correct fertilization (never excessive, as it could weaken the plant and facilitate the incursion of pests) and the necessary irrigation (neither more nor less). Remember that thrips will always cause more damage to the most malnourished or poor plants.
  • The previous recommendation also includes the removal of weeds that may arise around the plant or the plot where it is located. Generally, one way not to eliminate, but to avoid the appearance of weeds (the known ‘weeds’) is the correct irrigation of the plant. Drip irrigation will help, while blanket irrigation or other excessive irrigation methods will have the opposite effect, that is, it will surely facilitate its appearance. Keep in mind that weeds can accommodate thrips and that these from there are transferred to crop plants.
  • When it comes to driving them away, reflective and bright colors are a good method. You can use silver-colored plastic padding, for example.

What if I already have them? How to remove trips

If these insects are already hanging around your plants and causing damage, do not worry. There are some measures to end the thrips. These are some of them:

  • One way to end them is by using traps. For example, you can use sticky traps to eliminate thrips. The yellow color attracts them, so if you use these color traps you will surely be stuck. This measure is valid for greenhouses (it is even more effective here) and for outdoor crops. In the latter case, you can place these traps on wooden sticks half a meter from the ground.
  • The most traditional way is, without a doubt, to use a product that ends them. You know that it will always be more effective if we do it as soon as the first trips appear. You can use a multi-purpose insecticide for sale in any plant protection store or nursery. These types of insecticides are used for any pest. If you opt for this option, we recommend that you include some sugar in the jar before spraying it on the plants. The effect of this product is the immediate death of the animal, but only if it has eaten or sucked any part of the plant that contains it. That is why sugar is a good companion since its sweetness will get your attention and cause them to die poisoned. Remember to spray the affected area about 30 centimeters away. You can also use a specific insecticide for thrips,
  • Potassium soap has also proven effective against these small insects, since their direct spraying on them causes their exoskeleton to soften, and as a result, they end up dying.
  • There are also some natural remedies, such as neem or neem oil, or paraffin oil. In this case, you should be careful and use it only in areas of plague, since these two remedies end both with pests and with the rest of insects (many of them, beneficial for plants).

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