Aphids and thrips are two of the most commonplace indoor or outdoor garden pests and can really stress plant parents out because of the damage they deal with plants.
These freeloading insects not only feed on the plants’ nutrients and make them lose vigor, but they also leave unpleasant stains and distortions on the foliage.
Almost every gardener has to deal with an aphid or thrips problem at least once a year.
But the good news here is there are quite a few effective methods to eliminate aphids and/or thrips from your plants.
Aphids vs. Thrips
Aphids are tiny oval-shaped insects that can be of any color, although they’re most commonly found in light-green to red color. They are usually found sticking to stems and undersides of leaves as colonies. Thrips, on the other hand, are more slender-shaped winged insects and are typically yellow or black-colored. Aphids feed on the plant’s sap by sticking their needle-like mouthpart into the stems or leaves. Thrips wound the plant tissue and feed on the foliage.
How to Identify Aphids?
These pear-shaped insects are almost unnoticeable because they are so tiny, and their colors blend so well with the plant foliage.
Aphids can be found on soft plant tissue and the underside of leaves. Found in colonies, you will not find an aphid alone but in a swarm gathered around a specific feeding point.
These feeding points are locations on the plant which contain the most sap or are the easiest targets.
This means they can be found on sprouting leaves, new stems at the junction between branches and near fruits.
Green or light-green colored aphids are slightly larger in size than black or red ones.
One thing that can help you narrow down your search for Aphids is that they are most commonly found on food crops or plants that supply the sticky-sweet sap that aphids are after.
Aphids do not really prefer tropicals or any other plants that don’t have the same fluids to offer as fleshy fruiting plants.
Besides feeding on the plant’s nutrients, an aphid infestation can create a bigger problem due to the sticky waste the insects leave behind after feeding.
The sugary and sticky substance that aphids excrete attracts other pests and can place your plant at a risk of fungal infection.
These tiny pests are soft-bodied insects, and if squished, they spread into a pigment similarly colored as their bodies. Aphids do not lay eggs, which means they breed live offspring.
How to Identify Thrips?
Thrips, although less common, are no less of a problem for us gardeners. Thrips spread to other plants more quickly than aphids are not as selective when it comes to feeding on plants.
The winged insects are easily carried from one plant to the other by wind, where they feed on the foliage by puncturing plant tissue and eating it.
Although the insects are not very noticeable, they leave behind a horrible silver discoloration at the site of infestation.
The insects are very slender and come in various colors, from yellow to black to brown. Because of their wings, they might look like silver or shiny gray flecks on your plants.
They will jump away or fly if you bring an object too close to them.
The symptoms of a thrips-infested plant are a bit hard to discern. When the insects suck out plant cells from a particular area on the plant, they leave behind silvery or white patches.
Besides devouring the plant tissue, thrips can deal greater damage to your plants in a different way.
Thrips carry various types of viruses that can be transmitted to the plants and lead to stunted or deformed leaves. If thrips severely infest a plant, the chances of a viral infection are high.
Thrips virus can lead to a plant being unable to flower and fruit properly and eventually die.
Dealing With Aphids and Thrips
Although the two are quite different, you can use the same treatment methods to deal with aphids and thrips at the same time.
Here are some of the most effective pest treatment methods.
Not all bugs are bad for your plants. Some bugs prey on pests like aphids and thrips, and you can use these bugs to eliminate every pest insect from your garden naturally.
This way, you can use the balancing act of nature to your advantage without getting your hands into potentially harmful insecticides or other methods.
Beneficial Insects like ladybugs, predatory beetles, and lacewings are excellent for dealing with a pest problem.
All you have to do is get your hands on some of these insects from the nearest garden or horticulture store and set them free around your plants.
Not only will these insects start immediately feeding on pest insects, but they will also reproduce rapidly so that not one pest insect remains in the face of the numerous beneficial bugs in your garden.
The newly introduced bugs will not harm your plants and will help with pollination.
The lacewing is an incredibly effective pest control insect as a female lacewing can lay hundreds of eggs per clutch, and the resulting lacewing larvae can feed on up to 600 aphids or thrips per day.
Sweet-smelling flowers attract these insects, so you can attract them to an aphid or thrips-infested area by placing alyssum flowers nearby.
Homemade Natural Pesticide
Although aphids and thrips can also be simply washed off your plant by running water, merely washing away does not guarantee an effective solution.
Maybe you can tire these pests out and eliminate them eventually by washing them off repetitively, but who has time for that.
You can adopt a better, more long-lasting pest treatment method, and all you need are a few domestic ingredients and a spray bottle.
Our homemade insecticide will be a two-in-one solution that not only kills pests like aphids and thrips but will also keep insects away from your plants for longer.
Crush an onion and a garlic bulb thoroughly and set them aside. Now prepare a liquid solution with two tablespoons of dishwashing liquid and one tablespoon of vegetable oil per 6 liters of water.
Now shake the water well and add garlic and onion to it. This is a mild combination, you can notch the measures up just a little for instant results.
Let the water sit for three days in an airtight container. After that, you can spray the liquid over the infested plants and other susceptible plants nearby.
It would help if you sprayed after the sun has set so that the liquid does not quickly evaporate off the plant surface. Spray two times a week until the pests are gone.
Frequently Asked Questions about Aphids and Thrips
Can I use artificial insecticide safely on my plants?
An insecticide that is prepared for commercial or agricultural purposes is not ideal for use at home. It is better for both you and your plants if you stick to more natural methods to deal with common plant pests.
Are aphids green in color?
Although green or light-green are the most common colors for aphids, they can be found in various other colors such as yellow, red, or black. Black aphids are the most common color after green, and black aphids may be slightly smaller in size than green ones. The best way to identify aphids is by their squishy body and colonizing habits.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.