And Then There Were Thrips

It’s been a month of pests for Gardening Nirvana as we’ve worked our way through aphids, scale and now thrips. Three different plants, three different pests, all living within a few feet of each other.

Foreground (emerging sunflowers); under window (Viburnum tinus), right of photo (scale-infected Magnolia)

Thrips now reside on the lower leaves of the Viburnum tinus immediately outside of our home office window.  It took us two summers to figure out what that…uh…pungent smell was.  We knew it was organic in nature, but it was so odoriferous, we assumed a small animal had died under the house or deck.  The smell eventually went away, the plants looked fine and we didn’t give it another thought.

Spring rolled around again, then summer and…that smell!  Aren’t you glad you are only reading about it?  The damage seemed to be happening at the base of the shrubs and along the back, making me wonder if it was lack of air circulation.  My husband’s sleuthing and a magnifying glass revealed that yes, we had a third infestation on our hands: thrips.

Plant Damage

Plant Damage



Through the wonder of the Internet and our postal service, a shipment of lacewing eggs, nested in bran, is headed for our front door.  When the tiny larvae emerge they feast on the thrips.  Adults need nectar and pollen to survive, so it’s important to have insectary plants in your garden to support the adult population.  The exciting news is that my sunflowers will flower within the next week or so, providing pollen to the emerging adults.  They like Cosmos and Sweet Alyssum, too, also growing our the garden.


13 thoughts on “And Then There Were Thrips

  1. I must say your garden still looks A-mazing. Good thing you are so knowledgable! It sounds like a fine symphony and you’re the conductor waiving your magic wand here there and every where. Those critters living in your Viburnum are pretty creepy looking, good luck.


    • Thank you for saying that. It’s funny how each summer poses a different challenge. We have aphids most years, but one “application” of ladybugs does the trick. This is the first year we added thrips and scale. Ick, ick, ick. Other years the rats and squirrels take bites out of the pumpkins and pluck all the berries. This summer…not so much. I’ll have to dig up the photo I have of a pumpkin with a bite out of it in the shape of an oak leaf. It looked like someone had carefully carved it!


    • Mosquitoes love me. I read once the fair-skinned people have thinner skin, all the more easy for parasitic wasps to feast on. I believe it. I hiked up a steep hill in Whistler with a friend and stumbled upon a swampy area filled with the blood suckers. I came away with 64 bites. Misery!


      • OMG, that must have been unbearable. I can’t even imagine 64 bites. I would have been scratching myself to pieces. We used to get them worse at the lake, but not too bad downtown unless you’re out after it cools off. I really liked it in Hawaii because they didn’t seem to have them at all.


        • I actually felt like I had the flu for a day after all those bites. It was miserable! We didn’t have much of a problem this spring because it has been so darn dry. We only got about 4 inches of rain for the entire season (typical is 14-18 inches).

          I wonder why Hawaii doesn’t have the mosquito problem? Just another reason to love the place.


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