Thrips Leaf Damage: Types, Signs And Protective Measures

Our discussion will be all about thrips damage.

To what extent do these pests feed on your plants? How do they get to your plants and which areas do they target the most? These and more will be discussed.

You’re probably reading this because you’re faced with an existing thrips problem you want to find solutions to.

If so, all you have to do is read on.

Thrips Damage On Leaves

Thrips are well known for causing a variety of problems to plants. The type of damage mostly depends on the type of thrips or thrips species as well as plant type.

Whatever the case is, one thing is certain; thrips activity or damage isn’t a good experience for the gardener. Plus, your plants are ruined when the problem is left to persist.

The Culprits

There are lots of destructive thrips species. Since we’re talking about the damage they cause, it’s only proper that we provide some names for your benefit.

Any of these thrips species could be responsible for the damage you experience. They include banded greenhouse thrips, banana silvering thrips, and pea thrips.

More destructive thrips species include red-banded thrips, gladiolus thrips, avocado thrips, tobacco thrips, and greenhouse thrips.

Others include the melon thrips, onion thrips, composite thrips, western flower thrips, poinsettia thrips, and eastern flower thrips.

Types of Thrips Damage

When it comes to thrips activity on plants, the particular type of damage needs to be identified to give you a better idea of how to combat it. There’s the damage that results from feeding.

Thrips have specialized mouthparts that help them suck out plant sap.

For this to be possible, they need to pierce through the soft tissue of plants to suck out the juices.

Because such sap carries or transports nutrients to different sections of the plant, the feeding activity of thrips disrupts effective growth and development.

There’s also the damage caused by diseases as well as those caused by egg-laying and larval damage. There’s also damage to the whole plant. All of these combine to worsen the plant’s condition.

You’ll have to get rid of these pests altogether to resolve the problems presented by thrips presence.

  • Damage Resulting from Feeding

The primary reason why thrips target plants are for purposes of feeding. To feed, these parasitic pests will have to scrape and pierce through soft plant tissue to get to sap or plant juices.

Also, other cellular contents are ingested by thrips. In situations involving full-blown infestations, such damage could appear as leaf distortion.

Thrips damage to plants could also appear as silvery leaf stippling as well as scarring. These pests target a variety of plants ranging from roses, grapes, tomatoes, strawberries, and tons of other succulents.

The longer they’re allowed to remain, the greater the level of damage will be.

  • Damage that Leads to Diseases

The feeding activity of thrips leaves plants vulnerable to a variety of plant viruses.

Examples of these viruses include groundnut ringspot virus, tomato spotted wilt virus, watermelon silver mottle virus, peanut chlorotic fan-spot virus, iris yellow spot virus, and Brazilian tobacco streak virus among many others.

The best preventive strategy is to have thrips damage minimized to the barest minimum.

Of course, this will require the use of a variety of treatments like the use of thrips insecticide sprays, the introduction of predators, and many others.

  • Damage Caused by Egg-Laying

Certain thrips species will lay eggs and nest on plants.

Such reproductive action takes its toll on plants. This is mostly because when a suitable nesting site is found and eggs are laid, newly hatched larvae will secrete certain chemicals around areas they rest on.

It’s believed that the chemicals secreted helps in absorbing plant nutrients that help sustain these larvae. This situation isn’t good for the plant as it disrupts the normal functioning of neighboring plant cells.

Damaged cells could further deteriorate to form galls.

  • Damage to the Entire Plant

Your entire plant is in danger of being damaged during full-blown infestations. Here, the most vulnerable or damage-prone parts of the plants are the plant include the bugs, junctions, and bends.

There are also the soft young tissues that are first targeted by these pests. Plant roots may be invaded by these pests also.

How Do Thrips Come About?

A lot of times, gardeners ask questions about the origins of their thrips problems.

This is understandable because a lot of people are clueless about how it started. You only need to ask yourself if you recently visited a nursery in the last couple of weeks or months.

You might have brought in thrip-infested plants without knowing. There are times when you don’t have to bring in an infested plant before you notice thrips presence.

These pests may cling onto your body or clothing when you brush past infested plants in a nursery.

Some thrips species are even known to bite humans.

Being able to trace your movements and actions within the last couple of weeks or months will give you an idea of why you have an existing thrips problem.

With common causes identified, you’re able to take precautionary action to prevent future infestations.

Not All Thrips are Destructive

There are over 6,000 thrips species and not all of these are destructive.

In other words, beneficial thrips exist. The next question will be; what makes them beneficial? They’re beneficial because they cause no damage to plants.

Instead, they prey on destructive thrips species.

Due to their beneficial nature, such thrips species are used as natural predators when dealing with thrips.

To take advantage of these thrips species, you’ll need to purchase these thrips larvae and release them into your garden as specified. Before long, your thrips problem should be over.

It’s important to know some of these beneficial thrips species since they do a great job of preying on their destructive counterparts.

Some of these include Aeolothrips, Sixspotted thrips, and banded thrips. Having these around should help a lot with limiting thrips damage.

As discussed above, it’s clear that thrips damage can be severe depending on the level of infestation. Urgent action needs to be taken to rid plants of these pests.

Have a pest technician come over for a proper assessment and comprehensive treatment of the thrips problem.

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