Choosing the path of cultivating land for living implies that you have a lot of pests to contend with if you want to enjoy a bountiful harvest.
Of all the field pests affecting plants, thrips have proven to be of significant impact. If you do not take adequate measure in getting rid of them, they can ruin your planting experience.
We understand that you wouldn’t like to see all your effort and the money you have injected into your farming business go waste.
Apart from plants infestation, sometimes, you can accidentally transport thrips to your home during harvest.
Thrips on humans cause slight irritation to the skin with their bites while seeking food and moisture.
Thus, we have created a complete guide that will show you how you can control these sap-sucking pests through the use of insecticide for thrips.
To get, the most from this comprehensive guide, you will be required to pay full attention.
If you want to navigate directly to the remedy page, then you can skim through our highlighted headings.
Alternatively, you can just navigate straight to the page that shows you some tested and trusted products that will enable you to totally eradicate these unwanted guests.
Before we dive into how you can control thrips, sometimes you are caught up asking yourself questions like; “where do thrips come from? How did I get thrips? How do I identify thrips?”
Let’s briefly examine the facts about thrips, their effects on crop and how you can effectively control them.
What you need to know about thrips
- Thrips are tiny sap-sucking insects belonging to the order Thysanoptera.
- They have a tiny and slender body with fringed wings.
- There are over 6,000 species of trips universally destroying plants all over the world
- Thrips feed on plants by puncturing the epidermal layer of their host tissue by sucking cell contents
- Feeding in thrips often result in discolored flecking, scar, distortion, stippling and slivering of the leaf surface
- Thrips leaves black varnish-like specks (excrement) on the plants they feed on
- Not all species of thrips are harmful; some are beneficial in cross-pollination
- Thrips suck fluids from flowers, buds, fruit injuring them and eventually leading to the death of plants
- They are carriers for several pathogens consisting over 20 viruses most significantly Tospoviruses.
- Thrips are weak fliers. Thus they adopt unconventional flight mechanism best describes as claps and flings
- Some species of thrips are predators that eliminate other harmful insects.
- Thrips proliferate spontaneously, thanks to their ability to reproduce asexually.
- Thrips generally lower the quality and quantity of farm produce.
Now that you have more information on thrips let’s proceed to how you can identify them whether you see them in farms, greenhouse or you come across Thrips on humans.
How to Identify Thrips
Thrips are closely related to the Hemiptera (the bugs). At maturity, they possess an elongated and slender body which ranges from 0.02 – 0.55 inches in size. Thrips’ wings are folded when they are not in flight.
Most thrips have various colors such as off-white, yellow, brown or black. However, some species of thrips are uncharacteristic brightly colored. Examples include the reddish-orange color of the larvae of one of the predatory species of thrips
Thrips sizes vary according to the type of plants they attack.
For instance, at full maturity, onion thrips and western flower thrips are larger than citrus thrips and avocado thrips.
Thrips spot unique asymmetrical mouthparts. This implies that one mandible is usually longer than the other.
The use of the mouthparts is dependent on the species of thrips. Some use the mouthparts to puncture plant tissues and extract saps.
In contrast, predatory thrips use it to puncture the skin of other insects and suck body fluid
Although some of the features we have highlighted above can help you in identifying thrips.
However, you may need professional guidance in case of uncertainty when trying to know which is disturbing your plants, greenhouses or homes.
Life Cycle of Thrips
Thrips begin their life cycle by laying extremely tiny eggs which are usually around 0.02mm.
A female thrip can produce up to 80 eggs per cycle.
They lay their eggs singly or in clutches on plants leaves and other areas such as flower, buds, and fruits.
The first two instars include the larva or nymphs where small wingless adults emerge without genitalia.
The pupa-like stage covers the third, fourth and fifth instar where the thrips are subjected to rest.
During this stage, thrips metamorphose into an adult. Also, it’s accompanied by body shape conformation, the formation of wing-bud and genitalia.
The adult stage is reached within 8 – 15 days and an adult can live up to 45 days recycling the process.
In all, thrips can achieve 12 – 15 generations per year, thus the reason why you must take adequate measure to guard against their infestation on your farm or in your home.
Damage caused by thrips
As you can see, thrips infestation can be disastrous to both plant and you as a farmer or gardener.
There are several damages caused by thrips attack.
We have sub-divided in into three parts so that you can better understand the damages they can cause to you if not controlled.
Effects of thrips on plants
- Discoloration of leaves
Thrips feeding on plants leaves are often accompanied by discoloration of leaves, color-break or paling and darkening of plant petals.
This, in turn, inhibits photosynthesis and automatically causes the immature dropping of leaves and eventual death of crops.
- Stunted growth
Although, thrips rarely kill trees and shrubs, however, their mass attack on vegetables can make your crops suffer reduced growth due to thrips sucking essential nutrients from plants tissues.
- Vector to diseases
As we briefly mentioned earlier, thrips are pathogenic in nature. That means that they are vectors to over 20 viruses which can destroy plants.
- The unappealing appearance of plant yields
The flecks deposited on crops make them look unattractive. Despite that the internal parts of fruits suffering from aphid attack can be edible; the external parts do not look appealing.
- Deformity of flower buds
When thrips feed on the flowering parts of plants, the can cause the deformation of plants and make the bud unable to open which implies that pollination may not occur in sexual plants.
Effects of thrips on humans
- Skin irritation
When trips find their ways to your homes maybe through infected plants, they can bite you causing irritation to your skins.
- Body infection
The openings from bites may be the needed entrance that pathogens require to infect your body with diseases and infections.
Economic effects of thrips
- Reduced quality and quantity
Thrips are so disastrous that they can drastically eat off significant parts of your crops.
When this occurs, there will be the prevention of photosynthesis which will eventually kill your plants.
Also, the discoloration, folding of leaves and dark spots from fletches reduce the quality of plant products, thus, reduction in the market value.
- The increased cost of production
The cost of controlling thrips attack is quite expensive, especially on a commercial level. That will lead to an increase in the amount you spent in running your farm.
- Reduced Income
Controlling thrips will reduce your income; this implies that it is safer to prevent the invasion of thrips on your farm, greenhouses, and homes.
Since you perfectly understand the impacts of thrips on your crop, yourself and your income as a grower or farmer, you will be inclined to know the ways you can control thrips to prevent their attack on your farm.
Insecticide for thrips control
You probably stumble on this article because you can just wait to get rid of this annoying pest from your farm or home. Eliminating thrips attack is not an easy feat for even the most experienced pathologists; it can be time-consuming, and stressful.
However, if you thoroughly follow this guide, you can achieve it up to three times more efficient.
Basically, there are two methods you can employ in preventing and controlling thrips; the organic method and the use of insecticides for thrips.
For the sake of this article, we will be focusing on the use of pesticides (insecticides) for thrips control.
What are insecticides?
Insecticides are chemical substances with the ability to prevent, destroy or inhibit the activities of targeted insects.
Insecticides have been reported as being responsible for the increase observed in crop production in the 20th century.
Classification of Insecticides
Insecticides for aphid control can be classified using various methods. However, we will be considering classification based on the mode of action.
There are two types of insecticides using this method. They are contact insecticide and systemic insecticide.
· Contact Insecticide
The best way to explain contact pesticide especially for a layperson is to imagine a bullet fired at a target. Before the bullet can kill the target, then it must hit it in the right place.
That’s exactly how contact insecticide works.
Contact insecticides are non-residual, that is, they are not persistent in their application.
You can use contact insecticides for the control of thrips and other insect pests that prefer open feeding on plants.
Most contact insecticides have been developed in such a way that they are not or at most offering low toxicity to livestock, humans and other beneficial organisms.
This is in part due to their lack of persistence. You can expect your applied contact insecticide to be bio-degraded after exposure to the sunlight and other weather agents.
Despite that contact insecticides are highly effective against the control of aphids at home and in greenhouses; it is not recommended for use in large farms.
This is because many of the aphids can take shelter under the leaves of plants when they notice your movement.
Some of the popular examples of contact insects include pyrethrins and azadirachtin.
Contact sprays are better applied in the entire cover buds, tips, under leaves and other parts of plants where you notice the presence of thrips. Most contact insecticides require repeated application to be effective in eliminating thrips.
· Systemic Insecticide
Systemic insecticides in contrast to contact are applied to plants parts. When they are absorbed into the edible parts of plants such as leaves, flowers, and fruits, thrips feed on them and are poisoned.
Systemic insecticides are best applied through the soil via drenching. When you apply the systemic insecticide to the soil, crop root absorbs it and transport it to other parts.
Any insects that field on such poisoned parts are automatically killed or rendered inactive.
Alternatively, systemic insecticides can be injected to plant trunks.
Whether you apply to the soil or inject to the trunk, systemic insecticides are persistent and do not require repeated use in most cases.
Thus, they offer more control to thrips attack.
Neonicotinoids and dinotefuran are very effective for thrips control.
Benefits of insecticide for the control of thrips
- Suitable for Commercial Production
Natural methods of controlling insects are useful only in subsistence farming and backyard cultivation. Assuming you want to use a sticky yellow trap to control thrips, the number of traps you have to deploy in let’s say a hectare of farmland is unrealistic. Thus, the use of chemical spray is a more feasible approach.
- Extended Activities for longer use
Insecticides, especially systemic are persistence. A single application in a planting season will be sufficient to see you through. Other approaches will require that you continuously apply every time
- Long-term cost-effectiveness
Organic methods may offer cheaper way only on a small scale. When you are tasked with eliminating thrips on farmlands running to hundreds of hectares, organic approaches are a way more expensive. In the long run, chemical use for the control of thrips offers better value for money.
- Wider coverage on the field
Systemic insecticides, in particular, kill thrips that may otherwise be spared using organic methods. You can be sure to eliminate thrips regardless of where they choose to hide.
- Broad usage on different crops
Insecticides offer more extensive coverage and can be used on a wide range of plants; from onions to potato, cotton, vegetable, fruits, etc.
Most Active Insecticides Products
Many products are highly effective against thrips. However, we have listed the selected ones. Here you can see their mode of action and the forms they take.
- Emamectin benzoate
Emamectin benzoate is a powerful insecticide against Lepidoptera and a vast host of other harmful insect pests including thrips.
It shows selectivity in the other beneficial organisms in crops such as cotton, tomato, Burberry, apple, and many others.
Emamectin benzoate mode of action is through ingestion and also has limited contact action against thrips. When you use emamectin benzoate insecticide, it will be absorbed by the leaf tissues in a process known as a translaminar activity. Upon feeding by pests, the compound inhibits muscle contraction which results in the ceaseless flow of chlorine ion in the H-Glutamate receptor sites and GABA
Imidacloprid has a similar action like nicotine which is found as a natural compound in plants such as tobacco. It is useful in the control of thrips and other sucking insect pests.
Imidacloprid works by inhibiting the ability of insect nerves to send normal signals. This disruption forces the nervous system to stop working which leads to poor coordination in pests. However, Imidacloprid shows a little toxicity in mammals and birds but works better against insects.
As a systemic insecticide, when you apply Imidacloprid, plants absorb it and distribute it through the other edible parts of crops. Any thrips and other insects that suck such infected plants will suffer a damaged nervous system and eventual death.
Fipronil is classified as a broad spectrum insecticide belonging to the phenylpyrazole chemical family. It has a characteristic moldy odor and exists as a white powder. On an average, more than 50 registered products have fipronil as their active ingredient. It is effective in the control of many insects such as thrips, fleas, rootworms, ticks, termites and many more.
Lambda-cyhalothrin belongs to the synthetic pyrethroid class, and it’s instrumental in the control of a broad spectrum of pests including thrips, aphids, beetles, and flies.
It can be used in many crops such as cereals, hops, potatoes, ornamentals, vegetables, and others.
Lambda-cyhalothrin exists in various forms such as wettable powder, emulsifiable concentrates, and other ULV liquids. It is also employed in the public health application or structural pest management to kill household pests including mosquitoes, bugs, flies, and ticks which are carriers of infections.
Lambda-cyhalothrin is mixable with other compounds such as pirimicarb, buprofezin, tetramethrin or dimethoate.
Dimethoate belongs to the organophosphate class. It acts by interrupting the activities of cholinesterase – an enzyme that is responsible for the normal working of the nervous system in both pest and humans.
When pests come in contact with Dimethoate, they lose conditioning and have their nervous system disrupted which eventually kill them
It is a contact insecticide used in the control of insect pests such as thrips, mites, aphids, whiteflies, and planthoppers. It can be used in crops such as alfalfa, apple, cotton, corn, onion, tobacco, tangerine, soybeans, watermelons, vegetables, and several other field crops.
Dimethoate is available in many forms including dust, emulsifiable concentrate, aerosol spray, and ULV concentrate.
It is a broad spectrum organophosphate insecticide and acaricide that is highly effective against a wide range of insect pests.
Malathion essentially exists in colorless or brownish yellow liquid with choking smell. It’s derived from the combination of combining O-dimethyl phosphorothioate and diethyl maleate. It is highly soluble in many organic solvents such as paraffin hydrocarbon. However, malathion is almost insoluble in water, and it is practically degraded by alkalis.
The mode of action of malathion is by binding to acetylcholinesterase (AChE) towards the nerve endings. This bond disrupts the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh) which ultimately leads to the death of infected insect pests including thrips.
While using malathion, you must carefully read the label as it is toxic to other beneficial animals such as birds, bees and the aquatic organisms.
Some of the recommended products that have been proven to be highly effective can be found here.
Best Practices for insecticide use
- Ensure that you can identify the insect you want to control before deciding on which brand or types of pesticide to use.
- Choose the product that will give you the best result considering the weather condition of your region.
- Do not spray while it is raining or on a windy day
- In case of accidental consumption of pesticides, do well to get the first aid and visit the hospital as soon as possible.
- Do not consume food, drink or smoke while applying chemicals
- Read the entire label carefully before and after you make a purchase.
- Apply the exact volume recommended by the manufacturer
- Make sure you wear all the protective gears; nose mask, boot, glove, overall, etc.
- Wash all equipment before and after every use
- Securely dispose all pesticide containers and keep out of the reach of children.
- Use an appropriate container for mixing and application
- Ensure to apply in a well-ventilated area as some chemicals on mixing can produce fumes
- Do not mix two brands of insecticides unless it is otherwise stated.
- Observe the re-entry period as recommended by the manufacturer
- Check for the expiry date before you purchase so that you don’t waste your money on expired products
- Do not use insecticide containers to store foods and other consumable products
- Keep all chemicals including insecticides out of reach of children
Hurray! We have come to the end of our mini-course on the insecticide for thrips and how to control thrips on your farm and home.
You will notice that the impacts of insecticide use for thrips control can never be underestimated.
However, to fully enjoy these benefits, you must carefully select trusted brands that will give you the best value for money at a very competitive price.