A few types of these narrow, barely visible insects are predators, but most are pests. Some kinds eat just about any plant, while others attack only a single species. Both the fringe-winged adults and the wingless nymphs scrape plant tissues and suck the juices. They often hide in buds and blossoms.

Target: Many ornamentals, especially flowers; most fruits and vegetables.

Damage: Plant parts are speckled, streaked, or distorted, but lack the webbing characteristic of mite damage. Black specks of excrement are visible. Some thrips transmit viruses.

Life cycle: Adults of most species lay eggs on plants, although some reproduce without mating. Because the entire life cycle takes just 2 to 3 weeks, there are many generations each year and in warm climates reproduction is continuous.

Notes: Dry plants are more likely to be attacked, so water adequately. Thrips hiding in plant parts are safe from contact pesticides, so use systemics when practical.

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