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Thrips Can Be Stopped Before Ruining Roses

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Newsletter 2015



Although roses are much easier to grow than most gardeners seem to think, there is a common insect that fouls up the flowers just as you think a beautiful show is about to unfold. Roses can be covered with buds in the Spring, but as they start to open, you notice some brown discoloration which seems to get worse as the flowers open. Rather than flawless beautiful flowers, the roses are quite ugly. The culprit is thrips. The solution is to apply beneficial nematodes to attack and kill the nymphs after they hatch from eggs in the soil and before they start to migrate up the plants to feed on and ruin the cosmetics of the buds and flowers. Garlic applied to the soil can also help. Here’s more information from the Texas Bug Book about this hard to see little insect pest.

Common Name: Thrips

Scientific name: Order Thysanoptera, family Thripidae. Onion thrips -Thrips tabaci. Western Flower Thrips - Frankliniella occidentalis.

Size: Adult less than 1/25"

Identification: Barely visible, slender, fast-moving insects that range from pale yellow to black. Narrow, fringed wings. Nymphs are light green to yellow.

Biology and Life Cycle: Adults overwinter in plant debris or in bark. Females lay eggs in the spring that hatch in three to five days. Nymphs feed for one to three weeks, then molt to adult stage. Many generations a season.

Habitat: Most gardens. Vegetables, flowers, fruit and shade trees. Causes leaves to crinkle, especially on beans.

Feeding Habits: Adults and nymphs rasp and suck the juice from plant cells and cause silvery speckles or streaks on leaves. Flowers turn brown on the edges and don't open properly. Thrips will attack many different kinds of plants.

Economic Importance: Causes reduced plant production and ruins flowers. A serious onion pest. Damage can cause decrease in bulb size. Spreads viruses.

Natural Control: Big eyed bugs are the most important natural control, along with minute pirate bugs, lacewings, and lady beetles. Heavy rainfall also helps. Nematodes applied in water drenches will control species that pupate in the soil.

Organic Control: Spray with plant oil or Neem products when necessary or release predatory mites or pirate bugs. Garlic tea and seaweed sprays are very effective. Cover plants with row cover material.

Insight: Will bite humans. Bite is similar to chigger bite and may cause a rash. Thrips do have one good point. Some species will eat spider mites.

To discuss this newsletter or any other topic, tune in Sunday 8am -11am central time to the Dirt Doctor Radio Show. The call-in phone number is 1-866-444-3478. Listen on the internet or click here to find a station in your area.

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Naturally yours,
Howard Garrett

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