top of page

Diatomaceous Earth For Thrips

thrips on a leaf

Thrips are the bane to many gardeners and food producers.  They are fast, elusive, and reproduce quickly.  If a thrip infestation is caught too late, your crops will be eaten up.  Many producers will use toxic pesticides to rid thrips from their crops.  Toxic pesticides cause cancers and health problems for all that come into contact with it.  We want visitors to this page to understand that there is a natural solution to their thrip infestation and that is diatomaceous earth for thrips.  There is no worry of toxic pesticide residue with this product as it kills by a physical action and does not harm the plants you apply diatomaceous earth for thrips to.  Before all that, we want to find out how to identify a thrip if you suspect an insect infestation.

How to Identify a Thrip

Thrip on a Leaf

  Adult thrips are commonly seen as cigar shaped or tube shaped with colors varying from yellow, light yellow, brown, to black.  Some species have wings and some do not.  Shake a your plant while holding a white sheet of paper underneath.  If thrips are on the plant you will see rice sized little tubes that are yellowish to dark brown or black.  This would mean you have thrips.  Now, what do thrips do to plants?

What do Thrips do to Plants?

thrips damage to pepper plant

The main symptoms that thrips cause a plant are leaves with spots that are silver-white or yellow, then turn to brown or rusty-red, leaves losing their thickness, curling leaves, and leaf gall.  Like mosquitoes, thrips will puncture the skin of the plant, injecting digestive enzymes that turn the spot into a sort of soup.  Then the thrip will suck out the soup it created.  This leaves the plants leaves flat and you will see what looks like white dots all over the leaves.  This is because the thrip literally sucks the chlorophyll out of that spot.  These spots will eventually turn brown as that spot is dead.  Another thing that thrips do is leave their poo all over the plant where they have fed.  You will see very tiny black specks on the undersides and topsides of the leaves.  Next, lets learn about the life cycle and behavior of thrips.

 

Thrip Life Cycle and Behavior

Thrip life cycle

Thrip species go through five stages of development: egg, larva, prepupa, pupa, and adult.  Eggs are laid on or in leaves, buds, and other plant tissues.  Once the larvae emerge, they feed for four to five days.  The eggs are going to be super tiny and look white to off-white and banana shaped.  Once the larvae stage is complete, they spend one day in the prepupa stage, dropping into the soil or leaf litter, or lodging in galls and plant crevices.  Pupae is the next stage and they stay in the soil until they emerge as adults, and are rarely seen. They emerge after two or three days.  Now that we know all about thrips and their behavior, lets find out how to apply diatomaceous earth to kill thrips.

How To Apply Diatomaceous Earth to Kill Thrips

applying diatomaceous earth to plants for thrips

Here, we learn how to apply diatomaceous earth to kill thrips.  Thrips like other garden variety insects will disrupt the growing cycle of a plant in any stage.  If growing in a greenhouse or large garden, it can take not long to disrupt the entire operation.  Diatomaceous Earth is a safe, organic, and effective way to kill thrips on your plants.  No need to worry about chemicals in your food or on your plants as diatomaceous earth kills by a physical action and is nothing more than a certain collection of minerals.  Thrips will crawl through this white in color powder and will be dehydrated to death after moving.  Its a beautiful thing to have something natural and effective like diatomaceous earth for your garden crops.  The idea is to cut off the gestational period of the thrip so that it does not have the ability to mate and reproduce.  Here are the instructions on how to apply diatomaceous earth to kill thrips.

Step 1:  First thing is first and that is identification of the thrips.  Many gardeners will utilize sticky traps both to help eliminate insects and to help identify them.  You can find some great sticky traps from Arbico Organics by clicking the link.  Blue stocky traps seem to work a bit better with thrips and that is what we have linked for you at Arbico Organics.

Step 2:  Next we want to identify any dead leaf clutter on the ground around the plant, floor of a greenhouse, and any other area.  Find it and remove it.  Thrips like to hide in dead leaf material especially right before the adult stage as they like to stay within soil and dead plant material before they emerge as adults.

Step 3:  Before we apply diatomaceous earth, we want to be sure that the plants are misted with water to help the product stick to the plants.  Same thing would apply for the soil around the plant.  Doesn't have to be much.  Again, just a misting.  Using our Pest Pistol Powder Duster and/or our Diatomaceous Earth Dispenser, lightly and evenly apply to the undersides of leaves, top sides of leaves, stems, and the soil around the plant.  It is going to make the plant look like you sprinkled flour all over it.  No worries, its not toxic to the plant and will not effect the way it grows.

Step 4:  Leave application on those locations for ideally 7 days and then reapply.  We understand that plants need to be watered.  After a watering, chances are the product will be washed into the soil and will not be effective again.  Simply reapply to the locations described in step 3 until the next watering.  We commonly see thrip infestations eliminated in as little as one week, up to two weeks depending on the severity of the infestation and how you are applying the product.  So try to keep the product on the plants as much as possible for a 2 week period.  Remembering that you need to apply in a light, visible, and even fashion.  More is NOT better, it is a waste of the product.

bottom of page