Recently people have been reporting an increasing number of small black bugs on their brightly coloured washing after it’s been hung out to dry.
The culprit is a small insect called thrips.
Thrips are usually black or yellow-brown, but may have red, black, or white markings and are tiny, cigar-shaped insects.
About 5-6000 different species have been recorded.
Thrips are attracted to bright colours and if they land human skin (or your clothing) they may occasionally cause irritation by biting.
In Hainan, they’re commonly found (amongst other places), on the hanging branches of the banyan tree and appear in large numbers when the air is humid and the weather is hot, generally spring and summer time, 23-30 ℃.
Will thrips bite humans?
Thrips are regarded as pests and sometimes bite humans in search of moisture on the skin and will also cause slight irritation to the toes and feet should one walk through grass barefoot.
Thrip bites only cause minor irritation and do not usually have long-term effects.
What colours are Thrips attracted to?
Depending on where you get your information from, they’re attracted to every colour in the rainbow. One thing everyone agrees on though, is that they’re attracted to bright colours.
When scientists want to monitor their population numbers in the field, they use yellow and blue sticky cards, (green is also commonly used).
How to Get Rid of Thrips?
Thrips are a common pest on both outdoor and indoor plants causing damage by feeding on the sap.
Preventing thrips completely is very difficult, but you can minimize populations by cleaning up plant litter on your balcony etc. rather than allowing pruned leaves, stems, and deadheaded flowers lying on the ground.
If you have a nice floral balcony and are quite proud of your green fingers, then you could have a problem on your hands. Thrips can affect hundreds of different ornamental and edible plants, and they are extremely resistant to eradication.
The first sign of thrips is usually yellow or bleached spots on leaves, deformed leaves, or dead blotches on flower petals.
Regularly wash plants with blasts of water to dislodge thrips. Thrips are so prevalent that attempting to control them using chemical pesticides is often counterproductive since it kills a wide variety of helpful insects
Immediately prune and destroy any affected leaves. A plant that is badly infected should be removed entirely to prevent thrips from spreading to other plants.
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