How to Get Rid of Thrips on Your Plants

7 useful ways of dealing with thrips both inside and outside
Phyllis McMahon
Phyllis McMahon
Research Writer
Phyllis teaches English Literature at a local college and loves writing in her free time. She’s also a great cook – her British beef Wellington is something the best res read more
Reviewed By
Chas Kempf
Chas Kempf
Expert Consultant
Chas works in a professional pest control company and knows all the nuances of this job. Also, he’s a fantastic tennis player and loves to organize BBQ parties for his fam read more
Last updated: September 06, 2023
MenaceToPests is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here

Today we are going to deal with a type of bug that you can find inside and outside. We are going to tell you about thrips. This may not be as scary as a spider or as annoying and itchy as a dust mite or bedbug. They are still something that you want to be aware of and watch out for.

In this coming article, you are going to learn a lot of useful things. You are going to learn about how to get rid of thrips indoors and outdoors.

Identifying Thrips

How to Get Rid of Thrips on Your Plants
Thrips are tiny insect that can be easily seen if you place a white piece of paper below the leaves and flowers, and then shake your plant.

Before we dive into a few tips, such as how to get rid of thrips naturally, you have to know how to identify thrips. This is important when you are dealing with any kind of pest. That is what you want to know so you get the right type of treatment for it. Otherwise, you may think that you have a problem with thrips in your home when you really have a problem with dust mites. In that case you have to go look for the best dust mite sprays that you can buy.

One thing to know about thrips is that they are tiny. They only measure around 1/20” of an inch in length and their diameter is about the size of a needle. So, when you see them, chances are they’ve already caused a lot of damage to the plants.

You may think that it’s all due to a fungus or nutritional problem.

To look for the thrips on your houseplants, place a white piece of paper below the leaves and flowers, and then shake your plant. This will work on your outdoor plants as well. If the problem is thrips, they are going to fall off of your plant and go into your paper where they’ll be easier to see. Take your phone or magnifying glass to get up close and personal with them and identify them more easily.

You also can use sticky traps to identify them. Place the trap close to the plant and see if there are thrips getting caught in them. Although it won’t get rid of the problem, it’s going to confirm if you have a problem.

Do you have thrips or aphids?

How to Get Rid of Thrips on Your Plants
Thrips and aphids can be differed by their shape: aphids are oval-shaped, while thrips are long and slim.

Damage from thrips looks very similar to damage from aphids. Both bugs deform the leaves, leaving a residue on the plant that is shiny. They also encourage the growth of black mold. That is why you want to look closely at the bugs. Aphids are shaped like ovals, whereas thrips are skinny and long.

Thrips eat the new growth of leaves and aphids eat mature leaves’ stems. Some people are extra unlucky, and they have problems with aphids and thrips eating their plants simultaneously. Fortunately, both are able to be controlled in the same way.


Pupae and adult thrips will spend the winter inside the soil. When spring comes, the females will insert eggs in the tissues of stems, leaves, or flowers. Each of the females can lay as many as 80 eggs. These will hatch into nymphs. These then feed on the sap of plants. There are at least two more stages they go through before they become adults. There can be 12-15 generations in a single year, since the whole cycle from an egg to an adult takes under 16 days when the weather is warm.

Common habitats

They live around and on the plants they’re eating. On trees, they can be found on the bark and leaves. On other kinds of plants, you can find the thrip will be either on the stem or leaves, or inside its flower blossoms. It’s common to find them on flowering plants such as roses as well.

You also can find them on plants indoors as well. If your infestation of thrips has gone inside, it’s common to find them on pathos, iris, and other kinds of houseplants. Regardless of where they’re found, they damage the plant the same way. Their syringe-like mouth will extract the liquid from it.

What Causes Thrips?

A lot of the time, thrips come in on houseplants that were outside all summer. They also often come with a plant that you purchased from a store. Since they’re really common garden pests, they also can come in when you bring in cut vegetables and flowers from your garden.

They’re also extremely tiny and adult thrips can fly. Therefore, it’s possible that they are going to come in through window screens and open doors.

Signs of Damage

Outdoor crop or plant damage

How to Get Rid of Thrips on Your Plants

Thrips that are plant-feeding will damage crops. After thrips have fed on the plant, you may see signs like the deformities in the plant and dark spots. They also can lay eggs on crops and fruits, which can result in small, discolored spots that are surrounded by white-colored haloes. Along with damaging the appearance of your flowers, they also can spread a lot of diseases, such as:

  • Tomato spotted wilt virus
  • Necrotic spot virus

Since the feeding habits of thrips can destroy many commercial crops, they’re thought to be really big problems in the agricultural communities. They can quickly proliferate and heavily swarm in the areas that have a lot of crops in them. Whiteflies can also be a problem to your outdoor plants, leaving eggs on the underside of leaves. If you are struggling with them, check our article on how to get rid of whiteflies.

They also can invade homes, often brought in on the potted plants. They also can bite humans though the bites usually only cause minor irritation.

Signs your houseplants have thrips

Usually, you first know that you have thrips because you have dirty-looking or faded leaves. Your plants’ leaves will begin by turning greyish or white in color. They then will eventually become brown as the plant’s damaged areas begin dying.

Though sometimes thrips will kill houseplants, this doesn’t happen very often. Healthy, mature houseplants are able to handle a pretty bad thrip infestation. The plants that are mostly threatened are weak or small houseplants.

That being said, having houseplants infested with thrips is not only grows, but the infestation will also make the plants appear terrible. Having a lot of damage also can stunt the growth of the plants. Other symptoms you want to look for are things like:

  • Leaves having brown stripes
  • Splotchy, pale-colored, faded leaves
  • Dying parts of the leaves
  • Flower buds which are dropping or malformed or that won’t open
  • Unexpected leaf dropping
  • Deformed new growth

If you are noticing any of the above signs on your houseplants, you want to look more closely and see if you have an infestation. Make sure that you are looking under your plant’s leaves as well.

Though moths are not directly attracted by your houseplants, they can still be a real problem in your household. Check our guide on the best moth traps if that’s your case.

Ways to Get Rid of Thrips

Now that you know you have thrips, here are some ways that you can get rid of them. There are some natural options that you can use for your thrip problem, along with the tips below.

Prune damaged plants

How to Get Rid of Thrips on Your Plants

Remove all of the leaves with thrip damage on them and toss them into your trash can. If you have a plant with a big infestation, you want to remove it from other plants totally so that they won’t spread. Based on how much you’re attached to that plant, you may simply want to throw it away. It is going to be tough. However, it’s a sure-fire treatment for thrips.

Clean affected plants

Another thing that you can do to help your outdoor plants is to get the thrips off of them using water from your hose. Make sure you’re focusing on their leaf undersides because that’s where they are gathering.

If you have plants inside that have thrips, mix 2 tsp dish soap and a 1-gallon water. Saturate your infested plant all over with this solution. It should be noted that this is a way to control the thrips but it’s not going to stop them from coming back.

Spray plants with pyrethrin

This natural pesticide needs to be sprayed on the plants that are infested two times. Allow 4 days between the applications. If you are worried about the environment, you want to look for pure pyrethrin pesticides and skip the pyrethroid pesticides, since they have additional synthetic chemicals. This can make it deadly to honeybees as well as fish if it gets into the water. Make sure you read the label before your purchase, so you don’t buy the wrong thing.

Natural predators

One of the most useful natural predators to thrips is the amblyseius cucumeris. They are useful for preventing and controlling different species of mites and thrips. They quickly move to attack all stages of the thrips. They can be purchased online and can help you with your thrip problem.

Neem oil

How to Get Rid of Thrips on Your Plants

This natural pesticide is made from a neem tree. It’s great to use since it will wipe out things like white flies and thrips and doesn’t harm the good bugs such as honeybees.

Here’s what you want to do to use neem oil.

  • Wash thrips from plants
  • Mix 4 tsp neem oil & 2 tsp dishwashing liquid in 1 gallon water.
  • Spray the plant’s infested parts using the mixture.

Use sticky traps

We mentioned above how you can use sticky traps to identify a problem. They are also a great way that you can get rid of them. Since the adults are able to fly, using sticky traps may be a very good way so that you can capture them. Put blue or yellow sticky traps close to your infested houseplant. This will attract them.

This is also a great way that you can monitor for any infestations in the future. This way you can detect the thrips a lot faster. You also can use them for detecting their presence on your other houseplants.

Spray with chemical pesticide

if you want to know how to get rid of thrips on your hibiscus or how to get rid of thrips on your roses, you may think that pesticides are the way to go. A lot of synthetic pesticides will kill the thrips that are on your plants. However, this isn’t very effective and can damage the environment. These pests will feed and lay their eggs inside the new growth of leaves and in the buds where they can’t be reached by the pesticides. Since they keep coming throughout the season, it’s going to be necessary to constantly use the pesticide so that you keep them away. Therefore, you may be killing earthworms and beneficial bugs along with the thrips, turning the yard into a bug graveyard. Not only that, but it doesn’t take long for the thrips to develop pesticide resistance.

Prevention Measures

One of the best things that you can do to make life much easier and also make things better for the environment is to stop the invasion of thrips before it begins. Below are some tips on how you can prevent problems with thrips on your plants.

Clean garden debris & weeds up

Thrips are a lot more likely to zone in on your plants if you have a lot of weeds that can host them. Thrips also thrive in the ground debris, such as deadheaded flowers, pruned stems and dead branches. Place dead and pruned plants in your compost pile and make sure that your garden and yard are weeded. This will make your yard a lot less inviting for laying eggs and raising their babies come spring.

Give companion planting a try

There are a lot of thrip types, and this means that it’s hard to find one that will repel all species. However, there are a few plants such as catnip, chives, garlic, and basil that repel most of the types. So, you want to mix these aromatic types of bulbs in with your other plants to discourage the thrips from taking up residence.


How did I get thrips?

Thrips will feed on vegetation. They often will get into a home when someone accidentally brings in an infected plant. These pests also look for water and sometimes will come inside hitching rides on damp laundry. They are very small and they’re hard to see until they’ve caused damage to your plants, and you are noticing the fecal matter on the leaves.

Are thrips harmful to humans?

Sometimes they will bite humans looking for moisture on our skin. They also can cause your feet and toes a bit of irritation when you are walking barefoot in grass. These bites only will cause some minor irritation, rarely causing long-term effects.

How can I prevent thrips on my indoor plants?

Along with knowing how to get rid of thrips on your houseplants, you want to know how to prevent it from happening in the first place. There are a few ways that you can easily prevent the thrips from getting into and damaging your houseplants.

  1. Regularly monitor the houseplants so you know if an infestation has happened.
  2. Debug all of the plants before you bring them into your house when winter starts.
  3. Make sure that you are keeping everything that’s brought in from the garden, such as vegetables, flowers, fruit, etc., really far from the houseplants.
  4. Inspect any new houseplants prior to taking them home. then put them in quarantine for 2-3 weeks afterward.

Do they fly?

There are a lot of species that are able to fly as adults. But it’s not something that you are going to see very often in houseplant thrips. Usually, they will crawl as their transportation mode, instead of flying.

Do they live inside soil?

They do, but not very long. Based on the species, thrip nymphs will drop in soil for several days so they can pupate. Adults spend the winter there. But it’s not common to view them in your soil, however. Therefore, if you are seeing an infestation in your soil, chances are that they’re not thrips.

What attracts thrips?

This will depend on the species of thrip. They will feed on a variety of fruit, herbaceous plants, vegetables, trees, and shrubs.

Are they difficult to eliminate?

If you’re vigilant and you follow a regimen that’s persistent and consistent to rid yourself of them, it’s not hard at all.

Final Thoughts

We hope that you have found our article very useful. Thrips are a problem that you don’t want to ignore, especially if you are particularly proud of your garden and flowers. Use the tips we have outlined here, and you will find that your garden and house are thrip free and you won’t have to wonder how to get rid of thrips ever again.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *