A closeup of an adult thrip.

How To Get Rid Of Thrips On Houseplants

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Houseplants are a great way to improve the air quality in your home, but they can be susceptible to pests like thrips.

Thrips can be a real nuisance for houseplant owners. These tiny pests can cause damage to plants by sucking sap from leaves and stems.

There are several ways to get rid of thrips. You can try using neem oil, insecticidal soap, or a systemic insecticide. You can also use traps to attract and kill adult thrips.

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What are thrips?

Thrips are a common pest for houseplants. They are tiny insects with wings that feed on plant sap. They can cause damage to leaves and flowers by sucking out the sap, which can lead to stunted growth or distorted leaves.

Thrips can also transmit plant diseases to uninfected plants. This is why it’s important to get rid of them as soon as you see them on your plants.

There are two main types of thrips:

  1. Herbivorous thrips – these feed on the sap of plants and can cause damage to leaves and flowers.
  2. Predatory thrips – these feed on other small insects, including herbivorous thrips.

What do thrips look like?

Many thrips covering a leaf.

Thrips look like tiny black specks in the shape of a grain of rice on the leaves of a plant. They are very small and are hard to see with the naked eye. A magnifying glass makes it easier to see them.

Signs of thrips damage on houseplants

The most common sign of thrip damage on houseplants is distorted or stunted growth. This is because the insect sucks the sap out of the plant, which can prevent the plant from getting the nutrients it needs to grow. Other signs of thrips include:

  • Yellow, white, or brown spots on leaves
  • Silvering or mottling of leaves
  • Black specks on leaves

You can also shake a few leaves over a piece of white paper. If there are thrips on those leaves, they should fall onto the paper. You will then have tiny slender insects on the white paper.

If you see any of these signs, it’s important to take action immediately to get rid of the thrips and prevent them from causing more damage to your plants.

How do you get thrips on houseplants?

The most common way to get an infestation of thrips on your houseplants is by bringing home an infected plant. This can either be a new plant or one that was put outside for the summer and brought inside in the fall.

They can also come in through an open window, especially during their most active time of the year.

How do you get rid of thrips on houseplants?

There are several ways to get rid of thrips. You can try using neem oil, insecticidal soap, or a systemic insecticide. You can also use traps to attract and kill adult thrips.

If you have a serious infestation, you may need to use a combination of these methods to get rid of the thrips.

Isolate the plant

If you have a thrips infestation, the first step you need to take is to isolate the plant from any other houseplants. This will prevent the thrips from spreading to other plants.

Inspect other plants

Once you’ve isolated the infested plant, inspect all of your other plants for signs of thrips. Make sure to check all parts of the plants. If you find any signs of damage, be sure to isolate those plants as well.

Remove heavily infested leaves/flowers

If the plant is heavily infested, you may want to remove some of the most infested leaves and flowers. This will help to reduce the population of thrips and make it easier to get rid of them.

Spray the leaves

One easy way to get thrips off of your plant is to spray the plant with water. You can do this in the kitchen sink with the sprayer or in the shower. If the weather is warm enough, you can even take your plants outside and spray them with the hose.

This knocks the thrips off the plant preventing them from causing more damage. This method is best used in combination with another method that will kill any thrips that were missed by the water.

Use neem oil

Neem oil is the best way to get rid of thrips on indoor plants. It is a natural insecticide that can be used to kill thrips on houseplants. It works by disrupting the hormone system of the insect, which prevents them from being able to reproduce.

In addition to that, it can prevent younger stages from becoming adults and can cause adult thrips to not eat, causing them to starve to death.

To use neem oil to kill thrips, mix neem oil according to package directions and then put it in a spray bottle.

Spritz the plant, making sure to get the undersides of leaves and the flowers where the thrips are hiding.

Do this once every 5 to 7 days for at least 2 to 3 applications.

Spray with insecticidal soap

Insecticidal soap is another effective way for getting rid of thrips. It works by suffocating the insect and can be used on both adults and nymphs.

To use it, mix insecticidal soap according to the package directions and put it in a spray bottle.

Spray the plant, making sure to get the underside of the leaves and the flowers where the thrips are hiding.

Do this once every 5 to 7 days for at least 2 to 3 applications.

Use sticky traps

Sticky traps are an effective method of catching adult thrips. These also do the double duty of making it easier to tell if you have gotten rid of the thrips or not. These come as either yellow traps or blue traps.

Yellow sticky traps work to catch the adult thrips that are flying around as well as several other houseplant pests like fungus gnats.

Blue sticky traps are targeted to work on just thrips and leafminers, so you can use either color for a thrip infestation.

Beneficial insects 

Predatory mites, lacewings, and ladybugs are all natural predators that will help to get rid of thrips in your home.

These can be purchased online or at a garden center. Release them according to package directions and they will go to work eating the thrips.

Diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth is a powder made from the fossilized remains of tiny organisms. It works by puncturing the exoskeleton of the insect, causing them to dehydrate and die.

To use it, sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the base of the plant and on the leaves. Be sure to do this when the soil is dry on the top.

Diatomaceous earth works best when dry, so try not to water too soon after application.

How to prevent thrips from coming back

Once you’ve gotten rid of the thrips, there are a few things you can do to prevent them from coming back.

Inspect new plants

Be sure to inspect all new plants before you bring them home. Thrips can hitchhike their way into your home on new plants, so it’s important to check them over before adding them to your collection.

Inspect plants regularly

Regular inspection of your plants will give you a better chance of catching thrips, or other pests like spider mites, early.

Early detection of thrips makes it easier to get rid of them as well as gives them less time to damage your plants.

Use systemic insecticide

Apply a systemic insecticide to your plants on a regular basis. This will help to prevent thrips from being able to establish themselves on your plants.

Systemic insecticides are applied to the soil and then taken up by the plant. They work their way into the tissue of the plant, making it inhospitable for pests.

Apply the pesticide according to package directions and reapply as directed.

With a little bit of effort, you can get rid of thrips and keep them from coming back. By using some of these methods, you can keep your plants healthy and free of pests.


Should you wash your plant with dish soap?

No, you should not wash your plant with dish soap. Dish soap can damage the leaves of your plant and strip away the natural oils that protect it from pests and disease.

Will my plant recover from thrips?

As long as you catch the infestation before the plant is severely damaged, it should recover from thrips. The damaged foliage will not repair itself, but the new growth should be healthy once the thrips are gone.

Can thrips spread to other plants?

Yes, thrips can spread to other plants. They are able to fly, so they can easily move from one plant to another.

How long do thrips live?

Thrips can live for up to 6o days when counting all life stages, from egg to adult.

Where do thrips lay eggs?

Thrips lay their eggs in the soft tissue of a plant, typically the leaf or stem.

Do thrips like wet or dry soil?

Thrips prefer dry soil because it is easier for them to pierce the plant tissue and lay their eggs.

Do thrips bite people?

Thrips can bite people, but they only feed on plants.

Are thrips harmful to humans?

No, thrips are not harmful to humans. Their bites may produce some minor itching but typically causes no irritation.


Thrips can be a nuisance for houseplant owners, but with a little knowledge and some preventative care, you can keep them from causing too much damage.

Stay vigilant and keep an eye out for these tiny pests, and if you do find them on your plants, take action quickly to get rid of them naturally.

With a little effort, you can protect your plants and keep thrips from becoming a problem in your home.

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Pin image for how to get rid of thrips on indoor plants with a closeup of a single thrip.