What Do Thrips Look Like and How To Control Them

What Do Thrips Look Like and How To Control Them

Do you know what do thrips look like?  These pests are common and destructive for many gardeners but many do not recognize how they look like.

Thrips are a houseplant pest that is seriously destructive and should be taken seriously and eliminated with the first notice.  These pests can infest a plant at a fast rate and cause severe damage within a short time.

Thrips and spider mites are some of the few pests that will make you throw away a plant because they have overpowered you.  However, if you notice it early and act at once, you can save your plants.  The white thrips are the most common of thrips to find in most plants.  They come in large numbers and infest plants at a younger age.

Let’s learn how to identify white thrip infestation early enough to fight it off and rescue your houseplants.

What Do Thrips Look Like?

Thrips are tiny insects with slim bodies and have the shape of a grain of rice, except they are much smaller than the rice. They measure over a quarter–inch in length when adults.  They are either yellow, white, or brownish.  Thrips is a name used to refer both to a single insect and a group of insects.

These insects suck the sap out of a plant, damaging the plant in the process.  They also carry viruses that they pass on from plant to plant during the feeding process.

What Do Thrips Look Like

Thrips reproduce fast, reaching adulthood in about 2 weeks.  Once they are mature, the females can lay eggs daily, and the eggs hatch within 3 to 4 days, developing into a large infestation in a short amount of time.

Some varieties have fringed wings, but they are not strong fliers, while others have vestigial wings that do not work at all.  Thrips have over 4500 species, with some indications showing around 6,000 of them.

Signs To Look For Thrips In Your Plants

There are significant symptoms to look out for if you suspect you have thrips in your plants. They include

  • Thrips damage on leaves looks like tiny, discolored spots from thrips feeding on the plant.
  • Small, rice-like flecks on your plants that you can barely notice with your naked eye
  • Mature plants’ growth may become deformed.
  • New growth looks twisted, deformed, or wonky.
  • Leaves appear to have a silvery look.
  • Tiny black specs on the leaf surface this is waste that is left behind by thrips.

Identifying these pests can be made easy by using a magnifying glass to take a closer look at what is happening on the plant.

The Life Cycle Of Thrips

Thrips females can produce eggs asexually even if they lack a mate.  They eat or drill a hollow part in a plant where they lay eggs, keeping them away from potential predators.  The plant’s soft tissue provides a home for these eggs, shielding them from harsh weather conditions. Here they hatch and enjoy the food source at hand.

Most of the thrips go through 2 larvae stages as nymphs before becoming fully mature adults.  This process takes about 8 to 15 days during warm weather and a month-long in colder weather seasons.  The average lifespan for these pests is about 45 days, but they reproduce in significant numbers.

During the cold winter months, thrips bury themselves underground or under leaf covers or occasionally hide in walls or houses or sheltered parts of fences.

In the warmer months of the year, they live on and around the plants that they eat.  You will often find them on trees, both in the leaves and barks sucking out the sap.  On other plants, it will be in the stems or leaves, or flowers.

How To Control Thrips?

  1. Provide Adequate Water For Your Plants.  Both spider mites and thrips target plants that have been left to dry up or are under-watered.  To prevent these pests from coming near your plants, water them regularly to prevent them from suffering dry conditions.
  2. Give Your Plants Regular Showers.  Showering your plants once in a while in a sink helps wash off a good number of pests that are attempting to make your plant their home.  Washing your plant removes dust and any other effects on the leaves, allowing them to breathe and photosynthesize at total capacity.
  3. Use An Insecticidal Spray.  When you spray this solution, make sure you coat your plant thoroughly.  Spray a few times over a couple of weeks to continually eliminate these pests and their eggs.
  4. Use Beneficial Insects. If you don’t want to introduce chemicals to your plants, you can use the biological control method.  This method introduces beneficial insects to help you eliminate these destructive pests. These beneficial insects include Green lacewings, minute pirate bugs, predator mites, and ladybugs.

Monterey LG6135 Garden Insect Spray, Insecticide & Pesticide with Spinosad Concentrate, 32 oz

You can buy these beneficial insects online, and they are shipped directly to your house.  Once you receive them, release them to the affected plants, and you will notice a change within a short time.

DIY Spray Options To Get Rid Of Thrips

Solution 1:  Neem oil and insecticidal soap – homemade spray for small infestations.

Mix 17 ounces of water with 5 tsp neem oil and .75 tsp mild dish soap in a spray bottle.

Once ready, test on a small portion of the plant first to make sure it will tolerate the spray. Some plants are sensitive and might react to the solution. If none is sensitive, cover the whole plant with this spray solution.

Solution 2:  Rubbing Alcohol and Soap – homemade Spray for small infestations.

Mix 4 ounces of rubbing alcohol with 1.5 tsp mild dish soap and 16 ounces water in a spray bottle.

Spray your plants with the solution covering every part to ensure you treat each part well.


Now that we know what thrips look like and their effect on your plants, it’s best to eliminate them as early as we notice them on the plants.

The best time to deal with either pests or diseases is right at the start of the problem. Take a step now! If you wait too long, you could just be waiting for more trouble.