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Thrips (Thysanoptera) or fringed flies are tiny insects (1 to 3 millimeters) that are by no means always harmful. The tiny insects also called bladder feet or thunderstorms form their own order in the class of insects, which belong to about 5,500 species worldwide. About 400 of these species live in Central Europe, in Germany after last count 214 species, of which about a tenth is classified as a pest.
These numbers are constantly changing, thrips are not only introduced into foreign lands with the worldwide trade in plants, but also weigh so little that they can be transported like a kind of "airplankton" several hundred to a thousand kilometers through the wind, they are out in the polar regions to find anywhere in the world.
Thrips as pestsThe German Phytosanitary Offices currently list 26 native species as pests. Probably the most significant for the gardener is Frankliniella occidentalis, which eats vegetables and ornamental plants, but also as a pollinator of kidney beans and onions and as a predator of the predatory mites also useful. Also Frankliniella intonsa is interesting for the gardener, he sticks mainly to leaves and flowers, but unfortunately also eats raspberry fruits. The Thrips tabaci is also called onion thrips, because it eats everything from leeks to onions, the Banded Greenhouse thrips (Parthenothrips dracaenae) prefers different palm species, green plants and orchids. Of course, this only outlines the absolute preferences to which a hungry thrip will certainly not be limited. With plant imports are also constantly thrips on the journey to us, which may have a very different taste. There can only comfort, that the damage done usually remain low.
Thrips suck the leaf cells empty, in these cavities then air penetrates, which leads to discolorations. When many leaf cells are sucked out, the leaf dies, in any case, the affected ones fall out for photosynthesis, which weakens the plant. After the removal of the affected leaves and the thrips, the plants usually recover in this case. Only when the thrips have transmitted plant viruses, the whole plant will change color and / or shape and should be destroyed.
Fighting the thrips
Especially because of the risk of virus transmission, the thrips should be eliminated. The most gentle plant control is by home remedies: Regular control of the plants enables a quick reaction. Thrips have adhesive bubbles that attach to the underside of the leaf. Therefore, you should check the undersides of the leaves regularly, especially thrips appear when it gets warmer, so in spring and autumn at the beginning of the heating season. If you find thrips, the infested plant should be quarantined. To prevent virus transmission, you should use devices withWash off soap before using it on other plants.
Then you can simply shower the infested plants with a soapy water solution, either with an oil-detergent-water emulsion (1 liter of water, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 dash of detergent) or with a solution of 15 grams of pure soft soap in 1 liter of warm water. The emulsions are sprayed on the plants. See the thrips fly, sticky boards help, but only blue, yellows do not like thrips.
In many plants and a strong infestation is a biological pest control conceivable: predators are predatory mites of the genus Amblyseius cucumeris, predatory flower bugs of the genus Orius or larvae of the lacewing Chrysoperla carnea.
Before the next infestation: prevention
Niembaum oil can be used for prevention. Otherwise thrips love dry, warm air, with an increase in humidity, not only will the plants be more resistant, the thrips will no longer feel comfortable with you.
If you get a bite in the control work, that is no reason to panic, it has similar effects as a mosquito bite (and only a small part of the thrips can sting overhead).
Home remedies are therefore recommended by the Phytosanitary Offices as a priority method of control, because the consequences are not foreseeable: At present, few insecticides are approved that still have a satisfactory effect on thrips, and resistances develop too quickly. The remedies also contain some oil, which can lead to the death of the treated plant because it sticks to the pores of the leaves. If at all, the use of insecticides is only possible with very strong infestation, then should be first selected agents that are brought to the root. Their active ingredient is absorbed through the roots and thus acts throughout the plant.