Fringed winged birds belong to the type of insect that you do not want to see on your own plants. The small insects can be found almost all over the world and manage to destroy entire harvests. Thrips are known by a variety of names, such as thunderstorm flies and cystopods. The damaged insects often drill their eggs directly into the plant tissue or attach them to shoots and leaves. Control must be immediate and consistent in order to curb the spread of the pests.


Fringed winged birds feed on the cell sap of the plants and pierce the surface of the leaves with their mouthparts. The infestation is insidious, in the first time the pests multiply rather unnoticed. As a result of the increased food intake, air gets into the interior of the leaves through the openings, so the affected areas have a silvery white shimmer. Brown and black discolorations on the leaves indicate the simultaneous infestation with fungi. If left untreated, a population of thrips can cause enormous damage to the host plant and even lead to its death.

The insects, which are only a few millimeters in size, can hardly be seen individually with the naked eye. You can only make out the partly winged thrips and the light green larvae on the underside of the leaves in aggregates. Another indication of the thunderstorm animals is a reduced or stunted growth of the shoots. In the case of inflorescences that do not develop and bloom, you should also check for the cystopus. The tiny, brown globules of excrement also expose the animals. Small disadvantage: These traces can only be seen conspicuously if there is already an overpopulation of fringed winged birds on the plant.

First steps

There is no need to panic if you have thrips. Even if the beloved orchid or the two meter high oleander are affected. With the right measures and a little patience, you can get rid of the pests again. Before starting the treatment, however, the infected plants must be separated. In this way, you not only avoid the rapid spread of the fringed winged fly, but you can also use certain control methods in a more targeted manner.

Increase the air humidity
Thrips prefer a warm and dry environment, a higher air humidity puts a lot of strain on them and reduces their reproduction. For example, on the balcony you can spray the plants twice a day with a water sprayer. Avoid doing this in the direct midday sun to avoid burns on the leaf surface. Indoor plants in closed rooms can be wrapped in a transparent film for a few days after you have sufficiently watered the substrate. You should remove and destroy severely affected parts of the plant immediately.

Note: For all control measures, also pay attention to the keeping conditions and needs of the plants concerned.


Specialized retailers have numerous insecticides available for combating thrips. However, these agents are not always recommendable and effective. Because some of them are also harmful to beneficial insects such as bees. Use chemical products only in moderation and as a last resort. “Less is often more”, this saying in particular has proven to be true with insecticides: the information on the instructions on the packaging must be strictly followed. Overdosing not only harm the plants, but can also put your own health at risk. When buying, make sure that the chemical products are suitable for fighting thrips and do not pose a threat to bees or butterflies.

Instead of sprays, combination sticks and granules have proven effective. These insecticides pass the active ingredient on to the roots of the infected plant directly via the substrate. From there it enters the plant’s cycle and is also absorbed by the thrips through the cell sap. A deadly cocktail that has a long-term effect and kills the fringed wings. Repeat this process over a longer period of time so that newly hatched animals cannot create a new population.

Note: Avoid oily agents, as these stick together the pores of many plants and lead to further damage.

Animal control methods

In addition to home remedies and chemical insecticides, other measures have also proven to be extremely effective in combating thunderstorm flies:

Natural predators
Thrips also have natural predators. The use of these beneficial insects is only advisable outdoors, in the greenhouse and on the balcony. In your own four walls, these animals can quickly become an undesirable and annoying nuisance themselves. Predatory mites, some types of bedbugs and lacewing larvae literally like the fringed winged birds to eat. You don’t have to search for the voracious insects yourself in the great outdoors. Numerous nurseries and online shops have these beneficial insects ready for you. When buying, just pay attention to the keeping conditions of the insects so that they can be used effectively against the thrips.

One of the natural measures against thrips is the use of Steinernema feltiae. These nematodes are commercially available and are fed directly to the infested plant via the irrigation water. The warmth of the substrate should not exceed 25 ° C, warm temperatures cause the stone nema to die off prematurely. This method against thrips is particularly effective in combination with other control measures, as the nematodes specifically attack the larvae of the fringed winged birds and lead to their death.

Spiders and Co.
Even if they are not as efficient as the predators mentioned above, spiders, ants and ladybugs also see a tasty bite in thrips. Do not do this by eliminating these beneficial insects.

Natural and efficient measures against thunderstorm flies

Thysanoptera – the Latin name for thrips – are not generally to be regarded as pests. The insects, which are no more than 3 millimeters in size, often act as pollinators of onions and vegetables in the field. Due to their low weight, they are able to be carried away by the wind over great distances and thus to spread the pollen they have picked up widely. Nevertheless, the thrips species found on house and ornamental plants are hardly to be regarded as useful. Vacuum the leaf cells with your pricking tools, which leads to the death of the affected parts of the plant.

Soapy water
Wash sturdy plants regularly with a solution of soft soap. For this you need 8 grams of soft soap, which is dissolved with 0.5 liters of hot water. Use it to clean the entire plant and repeat this process regularly over a week or two.

Oil-washing-up liquid-water solution
This emulsion is suitable for larger plants for which wiping with soapy water would be too time-consuming. Mix small amounts of washing-up liquid with 4 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 liters of warm water. Spray this substance on the plant only about every two to three days to prevent the oil from clogging the leaf pores.

Adhesive boards
The color blue magically attracts many of the fringed wings. You should therefore use blue adhesive boards, which you apply near the substrate and the leaves. Winged thrips in particular will perish on the sticky surface of the traps. This method is only suitable in combination with other control methods, as not all age groups of the animals are equally affected.

Garlic-nettle stock
This mixture is not for sensitive noses and should not be used in living rooms. For this brew you need:

  • 500 g of fresh nettles
  • 150 g freshly squeezed garlic
  • 2 liters of warm water

Mix all the ingredients together and let this brew sit for 24 hours at warm temperatures. The brew is applied directly over the affected parts of the plant. Repeat this process over several days and prepare a new mixture if necessary. Caution is advised with sensitive plants, as a strong brew of nettles can cause burns on the leaves. Instead of garlic, you can also use fresh onions.

Neem oil
This oil is obtained from the neem tree and is known for its insecticidal properties. Carefully dab the thrips larvae with a few drops of neem oil, but avoid contact with parts of the plant and the substrate. The active ingredient “Azadirachtin” prevents the larvae from molting, which inevitably leads to their death. Use neem oil, as the oil is also often called, along with other control methods to successfully eliminate all ages of thunderbirds.


The thunderbirds are able to reproduce partly asexually through the first generation. A single insect is therefore sufficient to cause an overpopulation on your houseplants and ornamental plants. An infection with thrips can not only break out through newly purchased plants, the tiny animals are easily able to slip through mosquito nets and small openings. Therefore, check all plants regularly and react immediately to an infestation of the pests.

In addition to the numerous options for combating it, you should change the substrate of the affected plant more often. The larvae of the thrips tend to pupate in the soil. If this fact is not taken into account, a new generation of thrips attacks the already affected plant again. When repotting, pay attention to the needs of the plants in order not to weaken them further through an incorrect composition.


Healthy plants are not completely defenseless against pests and diseases. If the location has been chosen correctly and the other requirements are also met, the plants have sufficient resistance.

  • Spray your houseplants – with the exception of succulents – regularly with lime-free water.
  • In the cold winter months, it is advisable to set up containers with water in the living rooms to counteract dry heating air.
  • Avoid waterlogging. Because even if this does not immediately cause root rot, it weakens the plant unnecessarily.
  • Choose the location correctly. Not every plant can tolerate a south-facing window seat.
  • Fertilize regularly with compost or liquid fertilizer. Please note, however, that indoor plants also observe a kind of growth pause in which their nutrient supply is restricted. Do not fertilize during this time to avoid overdosing.
  • You can also use the effects of neem oil as a preventive measure. The vegetable oil must not come into contact or only slightly with the leaves of the plants. Rather, lightly dab the shoot axes and the trunk with a cotton ball soaked in neem oil. This is particularly recommended if a thrips infestation is already known in your immediate vicinity.

Like all pests, thrips are extremely annoying and can cause considerable damage to ornamental and useful plants. With little effort and conventional home remedies, however, you can take effective action against voracious thunderstorm flies. Fight all age groups consistently to avoid re-spread of the bladder feet.

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