This thrips causes damage to the foliage of many plants, including bedding plants and flowers, some annual vegetables and strawberries, grapes, stonefruits, and a variety of trees and shrubs. Feeding is heaviest on the underside of the leaves, leading to distorted foliage, discoloration, and ultimately yellowing and loss of the leaf. Feeding on young fruits will lead to surface blemishes that also make the fruit unacceptable for sale. Males are rare or even unknown and reproduction is by parthenogenesis. The larva and adult both feed by piercing the plant surface and ingesting plant fluids. They also may “bite” people when they are on the skin.
Very few natural controls exist for thrips, and this leads to a difficult reliance on insecticides. Some species of thrips are actually predatory and feed on other thrips and mites, so proper identification is helpful in deciding whether or not to apply an insecticide. Because the eggs are inserted into the plant tissue they may be protected from topical sprays. Treatments include insecticide soap, insecticidal oils, and contact or systemic insecticides, but these often are minimally effective due to the insect feeding on the underside of the foliage, their numbers and mobility, and tiny size. Sprays should concentrate on the undersides of the leaves and repeat applications may be expected.