Thrips are sucking insects – related to their cousins, the whitefly and aphid – that cause damage by sucking the sap from leaves and flowers. Most thrips are quite harmless, whereas others will cause leaves and flowers to lose their colour and they can also transfer viruses from plant to plant. They feed off leaf litter, damp old wood, decaying matter and fungi, bearing in mind that these things become tastier with the warm and wet spring conditions. Much like the whitefly and aphid, thrips are almost exclusively active in spring, when their numbers fluctuate with the weather. Warm, humid weather will see their numbers explode – there are days when our plants at the nursery are stampeded on by them – then days later, once conditions dry up, the thrips have packed up and moved on.

The best treatment is, thankfully and reliably, from good ol’ Mother Nature herself. Thrip populations are heavily influenced by the weather, and are driven away by hot, dry/cool, windy conditions.

Optimal Conditions

Humid conditions that follow spring rains


Brush up against a plant and a million tiny black flies conduct a Mexican wave.


As thrips love to feast on damp and decaying matter, try to keep your garden as hygienic as possible and space out your plants so there is good airflow


Naturally, once thrips appear (and whitefly and aphids), you will notice ladybird numbers increasing. This is the number one predator for thrips, so try to encourage them into your patch with flowers and herbs. You can use pheromone lures for the ladybirds; otherwise, some kind words or a pat on the back normally works


Use a soapy spray to clean your plants of any food and then apply two doses of a white or eco-oil a few days apart

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