In most cases, thrips are pests. Their feeding causes stippling, stunting, and scarring. Some varieties of thrips can even spread tomato spotted wilt and other diseases. But some thrips are predators
These tiny hunters may not look like much to us, but predatory thrips are other thrips’ worst enemy. In fact, predatory thrips control other thrips more effectively than other natural enemies. Mites, spider mites, and whiteflies are in the same boat. Predatory thrips are worth their weight in gold.
These tiny hunters share many traits with their prey. Males are rare and females can produce offspring without mating. Predatory thrips also eat plant material, but they cannot survive without eating meat.
While most thrips congregate in massive numbers, predatory thrips tend to be loners. There are four major species of predatory thrips:
Like other thrips, these insects are vulnerable to broad-spectrum insecticides and pesticides, horticultural oils and insecticidal soaps, so leave them as a last resort. Instead, create a habitat that attracts these and other beneficial insects. Your predatory thrips need food, water, and shelter, like every other living thing. You can buy predatory thrips. Or, you can simply provide a water source and a variety of places to hide, and these garden helpers will find your garden on their own.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!
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