Thrips are a family of small insects that feed on tender plants. There are many thrips species, but some damage plants by destroying plant cells and sucking out the juice. Small amounts of thrips in a garden will not harm your vegetables, but large infestations could ruin your harvest. Gardeners may wonder how to get rid of thrips eggs to keep an infestation in check.
The most effective way to get rid of thrips eggs fast is to remove them manually with an old toothbrush, then empty the eggs in warm soapy water. Soap spray, neem oil, and hydrogen peroxide, are effective ways of managing thrip infestations.
Thrips and their eggs are tiny and difficult to spot, making them difficult to remove. We recommend simple techniques that use everyday household items and supplies you may already have in your garden shed! Follow along to discover 7 ways you can remove thrips eggs.
What are Thrips Eggs?
Thrips are puny flying insects that vary in size. The largest thrips can be as broad as a sewing needle, while the smallest thrips are invisible to the naked eye.
Thrips can eat and damage many different types of plants.
Some types of thrips only feed on the fungus and pollen on the surface of plant vegetation, so seeing a thrip may not be a sign that control is needed but simply an indication of the various insects in your garden.
Thrips Can Damage Vegetation
If you see thrips eggs in addition to damaged vegetation, the thrips may be to multiply!
Thrips are present throughout the United States, so there’s probably a chance you have them in your garden.
They hatch from an egg, progress through two feeding stages, and can damage leaves, flowers, and fruit surfaces. In addition, thrips can carry viruses that can damage plants.
Where Do Thrips Lay Eggs?
While a few thrips on a plant will not produce significant damage, thrips’ ability to transmit viruses means gardeners should take another look at their plants to prevent the spread to other areas of the garden.
Some of the plants susceptible to thrips-born viruses include:
- Alliums-onions, garlic
- Legumes-beans, peas
- Solanaceae family-tomatoes, peppers, eggplant
- Spinach and lettuce
- Woody bushes and fruit trees
Unfortunately, this list includes many common garden plants you may plan to have in an upcoming garden. And one of those really common plants that trips are attracted to is roses! Head on over to our article for a full list of insects attracted to roses!
Do not worry; severe plant damage will only occur in the case of a significant infestation! Most infestations will remain small enough to treat with one of our seven methods.
Thrips Lay Their Eggs On Plants
Female thrips lay eggs in the plant tissue, making it very difficult to see and identify.
The eggs hatch between 2 to 14 days. The larva’s first meal is its eggshell before it moves onto plant tissue.
After the larva has molted into its second and third stages, it will move down the plant into the soil or leaf litter to pupate. During this stage, the larva transforms into a flying adult thrip.
They Particularly Like Soft Plant Tissues
The mouth parts of the tiny larva are underdeveloped initially, so the first feeding spot will be the most tender part of the plant, flower petals, or fresh new growth.
Female thrips will look for the most tender areas to lay their eggs.
This habit gives the larva a better chance of survival because they will not have to travel far to have their first few meals. So first, inspect the most tender parts of the plant to look for thrips eggs or young larvae.
How Do I Get Rid Of Thrip Eggs?
Before reaching for a chemical insecticide, try managing thrips eggs using some straightforward strategies using only household items.
Insecticides may take care of a thrip problem, but they also limit beneficial insects.
Some species of thrips lay their eggs deep into the plant tissue, out of reach of insecticides.
Some insects feed on thrips and can aid you in managing their population. If you use a harsh insecticide, you will remove all beneficial insects from your garden, limiting your ability to manage a thrip infestation naturally.
1. Manually Remove Them
There are many different species of thrips, with egg sizes ranging from invisible to about the size of the head of a pin.
If the variety of thrips on your plant has visible eggs, it is okay to remove those eggs manually by plucking them with your fingers and submerging them in warm soapy water.
Additionally, you can use the bristles of an old toothbrush to flick the eggs off the plant and into a bucket of warm soapy water. The soapy water will destroy the eggs.
2. Use A Soap Spray
You can make a safe insecticide at home with liquid dish soap such as Dawn Liquid Dish Soap. Mix one tablespoon of dish soap for every quart of water and place in a clean spray bottle.
Spray your troubled plants with the dish soap water mixture, coating the plant evenly from top to bottom.
Allow the spray to sit on the plant for thirty minutes. Test the soap mixture on a small portion of your plant to ensure it can tolerate it.
3. Spray Them With A Strong Hose
When thrips eggs are laid on sturdy woody plants, you can spray them off with water. However, a strong stream of water may damage tender fresh growth, so only use this method on hardy plants.
Attach a nozzle to the end of your hose that emits a strong spray of water. Point the nozzle down as you spray your plants so that the thrip eggs are washed off of the plant instead of pushed more deeply into the plant tissue.
Combine this method with a soap spray. Next, spray the plant with the soap spray described above before using a strong hose spray for added impact.
4. Hydrogen Peroxide Can Work Extremely Well
Hydrogen peroxide can help you clear up your thrips affliction because it is known to eradicate thrips in every stage of its life cycle, including eggs!
First, you will need a hydrogen peroxide 3% solution, such as McKesson Hydrogen Peroxide.
To make your hydrogen peroxide spray, mix 3% hydrogen peroxide with water at a ratio of 1:1. Which is half hydrogen peroxide and half water. Then, place the spray into a clean and empty spray bottle.
How To Use It
To treat your plants, spray them down with their e hydrogen peroxide solution and allow them to dry on the plant.
Consider treating the mulch and ground underneath your plant as well.
Treating underneath the plant will ensure you take care of any pupating thrips in the soil or leaf litter.
5. Neem Oil Spray Can Work
Neem oil spray, such as Harris Neem Oil Spray for Plants, acts as an insecticide and will get rid of the thrip eggs.
Spray neem oil liberally and directly on indoor and outdoor plants for the best results.
Like other methods, consider also treating the soil and leaf litter beneath the plant to catch pupating thrips.
6. Prune Affected Areas
Every species of thrips is different and interacts with its host plant differently. Some thrips species lay their eggs deep into plant tissue where topical applications may not reach.
In these cases, the best way to remove thrips eggs is to prune away the area that contains the thrips eggs.
Using clean garden shears or scissors, gently trim away the affected plant material. Destroy the infected material to ensure you do not contaminate your other plants.
Pruning only works if thrips have invaded only a portion of the plant. If the thrips have infected the whole plant, move on to one of the methods described above.
7. Attract Beneficial Insects
There are many types of insects that, instead of preying upon your plants, will eat pesky bugs instead. For example, in the case of thrips, various mites will eat the thrip’s eggs off of your plants!
You can attract beneficial insects to your garden by increasing biodiversity. Plant a variety of different kinds of plants.
Include flowering plants, which are the best for attracting beneficial insects. Allowing soft herbs like fennel, cilantro, and dill to bloom is a great option!
How To Repel Thrips From Your Garden Long-Term
Preventing thrips from beginning to feed on your plants is a much better management technique.
It is much easier to stop thrips from laying eggs on your plants than to take care of a thrips infiltration in full swing.
Luckily, many of the methods discussed for treatment also work for prevention!
1. Use Thrips Sprays And Repellents
Neem oil, hydrogen peroxide, and soap spray all work to prevent thrips from feeding on your plants.
You can use these as a preventative by spraying down your plants on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule.
While insecticides can be dangerous through multiple applications, all the methods described above are safe for routine treatment.
2. Plant Aromatic Herbs
There are so many species of thrips that it is difficult to find one plant that repels them.
Generally, planting aromatic herbs such as basil, dill and fennel are good pest repellants and attract beneficial insects that can help you control your thrips population.
Thrips dislike the smell of chrysanthemum flowers and will avoid areas where they are planted.
Alliums, such as garlic and onions, are also good pest deterrents. However, a few thrips varieties love garlic and onions, so this isn’t a foolproof method.
Garden Biodiversity Really Helps!
Generally, the more biodiversity you have available in your garden, the less likely a single pest will wreak havoc.
Many thrips are species-specific, meaning they only like eating one or two kinds of plants.
So, having many different types of plants in your garden will help limit the spread of thrips.
3. Use Trap Plants
If you cannot control thrips with the home remedies described above, consider pairing your crop with a plant that thrips love, like marigolds.
In this scenario, the thrips will begin to feed on the marigold instead of your crop. Then the marigold can be pulled up and appropriately discarded, removing the thrips from any area near the plants you want to protect.
According to the University of Georgia, thrips are attracted to yellow and blue.
Therefore, planting trap plants that bloom in these colors will help thrips find your trap plants.
We like The Old Farmer’s Almanac Marigolds CrackerJack Mix for its primarily golden and yellow blooms.
4. Try Out Pyrethrin
According to Clemson University Extension, pyrethrin is made out of the powdered flowers of chrysanthemum flowers. It is a contact insecticide and must be applied directly to the insect to work.
Some thrips lay their eggs inside plant tissue, where a contact insecticide cannot reach them, but if you see visible eggs on your plants, pyrethrin may be the right option.
We like PyGanic Gardening Botanical because it does not combine pyrethrin with other insecticides.
Pyrethrin products are often paired with another insecticide. We recommend contacting your local pest control business before using insecticides. Use our pest control locator tool to find someone near you.
5. Use Reflective Mulch
Reflective mulch stops flying thrips from infesting plants because the ultraviolet light that is reflected confuses the bug and stops them from landing on their host plant, according to the University of California.
Research shows that reflective mulches have effectively reduced thrips infestations in young crops.
Various materials can be used for reflective mulch, but silver and gray appear to be the most effective colors. Try using Silver Metallic Plastic Mulch in your next row crop to limit the spread of thrips.
We know that trips are never welcome guests in your garden, so don’t let them feast on your precious plants!
Control thrips eggs on plants by following our seven simple suggestions, remove them manually, spray them with a hose, or apply soap spray, neem oil, or a hydrogen peroxide solution.
Plant lovers should also consider pruning away affected plant material and planting to attract beneficial insects.
Remember, thrips rarely destroy an entire garden, so take a deep breath, follow our recommendations, and you will conquer this tiny pest!
Cloyd, R. A., & Sadof, C. S. (2003). Western flower thrips.
Funderburk, J., Reitz, S., Stansly, P., Schuster, D., Nuessly, G., & Leppla, N. (2009). Managing thrips in pepper and eggplant. EDIS, 2009(9).
Peres, F. S. C., Fernandes, O. A., Silveira, L. C. P., & Silva, C. S. B. D. (2009). Marigold as attractive plant for thrips in protected organic melon cultivation. Bragantia, 68, 953-960.
Seal, D. R., & Klassen, W. (2005). Chilli Thrips (castor thrips, Assam thrips, yellow tea thrips, strawberry thrips), Scirtothrips dorsalis Hood, Provisional Management Guidelines: ENY-725/IN638, 11/2005. EDIS, 2005(14).
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
Download My Free E-Book!
Take a look at my guide on Pest Proofing Your Home In Under a Day! I get into the nitty-gritty on the most common types of pests you’ll see on your property including BOTH insects and wildlife, along with the specific signs to look for regarding any pest you have questions about.