Hi, my name is:  Thrip

There are around 6000 different species of this insect and they infect a wide variety of plants. Many species target commercial crops but others infect home garden plants.  They cause plant damage by sucking sap from leaves.

Describe yourself: About 1 – 2mm long, sometimes white and yellow but don’t mind black. Quite slim, with lovely fringed wings! Don’t be fooled, what I lack in size I make up for in tenacity. I’m very social and usually travel with lots of mates.

Hobbies: Laying eggs in unopened flowers, sucking sap, spreading viruses from plant to plant.

Likes: Most plants, but really fond of tomatoes, beans, roses, azaleas and fruit trees. I love any white or light-coloured flowers!

 

Dislikes: Soaps – like home made chilli soap, or store bought stuff. Don’t get along with Ladybirds or Lacewings.

You’ll know you’ve met me when: Your plants’ leaves look white and a bit mottled, the petals or fruit turn brown, and flower buds fall off! Late spring is my favourite time to visit your garden – just as the roses start to bloom!

If you want to dump me, you could try to:

    • Irritate me by putting a flattened square of aluminium foil around the base of plants to bounce light on the undersides of leaves.

  • Drench me with a forceful jet of water in the early morning for 3 consecutive days.
  • Spray me with a home made garlic or chilli soap. Or use a store bought insecticidal soap. And target the underside of leaves where I usually like to shelter.
  • Prevent my adult friends from emerging from leaf litter in the early spring by applying a thick layer of organic mulch around susceptible plants.
  • Remove damaged plant parts as I also like to over winter in plant tissue or bark fissures.
  • Hit me with a pyrethrum spray if I JUST WON”T LEAVE, but be careful not to use when friendly pollinating insects are visiting the same flowers!
  • Deter me by cultivating the soil around your plants in autumn to a depth of 6 cm and again in the following spring.
  • Destroy all infected flowers and buds but don’t compost them. Throw them out – and me with them!

Photographs:

Pic 1: http://www.dpi.qld.gov.au/cps/rde/dpi/hs.xsl/26_4282_ENA_HTML.htm
Pic 2: http://www.hort.uconn.edu/IPM/greenhs/htms/ghsemsg2007_07.htm Desc: Thrip damage on the leaf surface
Pic 3: http://www.bugsforbugs.com.au/product/41 Desc: Thrip predator mite… the mighty Montdorensis!