The Q&A Archives: Thrips destroying flowers

Question: How can I get rid of thrip destroying my flowers? I wrote you last week, and your response was to spray each flower bud with insecticide soap. I have six beds of flowers plus Daylillies all around my 2 acre property, and I do most of the maintenance myself, thus it is impossible for me to spray each individual bud. Do you have any other suggestions? Many thanks Sally

Answer: That is a lot of flowers! Unfortunately, once the thrips are in the flowers, it's very hard to control them. In greenhouse situations, high humidity leads to increased thrips mortality because it fosters a fungus that attacks the insects. You can try keeping your soil more moist than usual to kill the pupating stage in the soil. You can purchase predatory mites, lady beetles and lacewings and release them, as they all feed on thrips. Beneficial nematodes also feed on the pupae in the soil. Gardens Alive carries all these creatures -- call them at 812-537-8650 or send an email to

Next spring you can try to prevent their presence with reflective mulch of aluminum foil. Studies show that the reflected light confuses the thrips that migrate from surrounding areas, and prevent them from landing on plants which the foil surrounds. I wish you the best of luck!

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