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Thrips are tiny, almost microscopic (1/16-1/8 inch), insects with thin, feathery wings and rasping mouthparts. Most thrips feed on plants but a few species are beneficial predators that feed on other insects and mites. Plant injury is caused by both nymphs and adults rasping the bud, flower and leaf tissues of the host plants, and then sucking the exuding sap. This causes distorted and discolored flowers or buds and gray or silvery, speckled areas on the leaves. They produce large quantities of a varnish-like excrement which collects on leaves, creating an unsightly appearance. Thrips can be pests in flower and vegetable gardens, shrubs, trees and crops.

The word "thrips" signifies a single insect (i.e. there is no such thing as a thrip).


adult thrips and damage thrips damage on bean thrips damage on onion
Adult thrips and damage. Thrips damage on a bean leaf. Thrips damage on onion.
greenhouse thrips thrips life cycle thrips nymphs on onion
Thrips are very small (1/16-1/8 inch), fringe winged, and yellowish brown to amber with an orange thorax. The male is slightly smaller and lighter in color than the female. Life cycle of thrips. Immature thrips are similar to adults but are wingless. Thrips nymphs on onion.

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Identification and Control Information (each will open in a new window)


[Photos, left to right: David Cappaert, Michigan State University,; Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University,; Alton N. Sparks, Jr., University of Georgia,; David Cappaert, Michigan State University,; Department of Plant Pathology Archive, North Carolina State University,; Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University,]

It is the policy of the State of Maine to minimize reliance on pesticides. The Maine Department of Agriculture and the Maine IPM Council encourage everyone to practice integrated pest management and to use pesticides only as a last resort. The mention of pesticides in the fact sheets linked to these pages does not imply an endorsement of any product. Be sure that any product used is currently registered and follow all label directions.