Thrips are tiny, slender bugs that suck the sap out of leaves, stems, buds, and flowers of houseplants, causing them to look faded or dirty.
Thrips have long, skinny bodies that are narrow in the middle. They also have slender, pointy tails, long antennas on their head, and wings on their backs (which are barely noticeable).
Adult thrips on houseplants will probably be black, but they could also be brown, white, or greenish-yellow in color. They can fly, but they aren’t great at it.
Usually the first sign of thrip damage is faded or dirty looking leaves. The leaves will start by turning white or grayish in color, then eventually brown as the damaged areas start to die.
Though it’s possible for thrips to kill a houseplant, it’s rare. Mature, healthy houseplants can handle a pretty heavy infestation. The biggest threat is to small or weak houseplants.
However, not only is a thrip infestation gross, they make your indoor plants look terrible, and heavy damage can stunt their growth. Other common symptoms include:
- Brown stripes on the leaves
- Faded, splotchy, pale-colored leaves
- Parts of the leaves are dying
- Flower buds are malformed, dropping, or won’t open
- Leaves start dropping unexpectedly
- New growth is deformed
How to prevent:
Thrips can be difficult to get rid of. So, once you finally win the battle, you want to prevent them from ever coming back!
The good news is that there are a few easy ways to prevent thrips from infesting your houseplants…
- Monitor them on a regular basis for the first signs of an infestation
- Debug all of your plants before bringing them back inside for the winter
- Keep anything that you bring in from your garden (cut flowers, veggies…etc) far away from your houseplants
- Inspect all new houseplants before bringing them home, then quarantine them for a few weeks afterward
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