Muggy, warm weather and thunder can be heard in the distance. They often occur during thunderstorms and settle on people’s skin and clothing. This refers to the small, black beetles, which are also known as thunderstorm animals. But what can be done against the annoying insects, is there a prevention or control? And the most important question, are these animals harmful to humans and the environment?

Definition of thunderstorm creatures

The insects are not flies but a small black beetle from the thrips family, also known as thripsknown. Although they have wings with long fringes of hair, they are effectively unable to fly. They cannot fly under their own power because they cannot use their wings to keep themselves in the air. Nevertheless, during a thunderstorm they suddenly get stuck on our skin or clothing. This happens because the small insects let themselves be carried by the updrafts that often occur in summer thermals. When temperatures rise above 20° Celsius in summer, the insect can rise from the ground to higher layers of air and be carried many kilometers above the ground. As soon as there is a thunderstorm, the air conditions change, the animals sink and increasingly land on us humans. Thrips can be harmful as follows:

  • for plants
  • Thrips have sharp mouthparts
  • pierce the plant cells
  • suck sap from plants
  • air penetrates
  • Leaf turns light yellow
  • Leaves dry up over time
  • Viruses and fungi also damage plants
  • it can sting people
  • harmless, similar to a mosquito bite

Why during a thunderstorm?

Even our grandparents knew the little black beetles and called them thunderstorm animals because large numbers of animals can be found in the air when the air is hot and muggy. However, the exact reasons for this are not yet known. However, experts suspect the following reasons why small black beetles are more common in the air during thunderstorms:

  • electric field strength in air
  • during thunderstorms at 50,000 volts per meter
  • typically at 100 to 300 volts per meter
  • are forced to land
  • Flight activities of insects always ceased at 8,000 volts
  • Thrips then puts on wings
  • inevitably decreases
Note: This is just a theory, so far the phenomenon of the increasing number of thunderstorm creatures has not yet been scientifically proven.

Do humans attract the insect?

Why do the small, black beetles like to land more and more on our skin and clothing? Insects will often be attracted to light-colored clothing, so the best course of action when a thunderstorm is approaching is to avoid bright and bright clothing. Nevertheless, the animals are dependent on the air and can hardly fly themselves. They cannot determine their trajectory themselves and so often land on us humans quite accidentally when we are available for this. However, if the animals land directly on the skin, annoying bites can occur, which have not yet been classified as dangerous. To prevent this from happening in the first place, the first time you spot the small black bugs on your skin, you should proceed as follows:

  • shake off immediately
  • goes from clothes quite well
  • remove with a lint roller
  • remove the skin with your fingers
  • alternatively hold your arms or legs under water
  • black little bugs are thus washed away
Note: Since the small insects, once they have landed, are attracted to the smell of human sweat and are misled by it, they pierce the skin with their mouthparts and also release saliva to absorb liquid. Then there is an inflammatory, red swelling that is similar to a mosquito bite. However, the insects are not after your blood.

Get rid of the apartment

If the windows in the apartment are opened wide due to the muggy thunderstorm air, then the thrips can easily get into the apartment. Here the insect then often sits on the floor or on cupboards and tables. However, so that they do not get to the indoor plants, they should be removed directly. This can be done as follows:

  • get rid of with hand brush and shovel
  • just sweep up
  • bring outside
  • ideally straight to the compost
  • otherwise well packaged in the residual waste
  • alternatively use crepe or adhesive tape
  • wipe the floor with the adhesive tape side
  • Dispose of the bag afterwards when you vacuum it up
  • Then wipe the affected areas with a damp cloth

If a microfiber cloth is used for collecting, then it should be washed immediately afterwards at 60° Celsius so that no thrips can survive in it and possibly multiply.

Tip: You can recognize the thrips by the fact that they see small black dots on a tiled or parquet floor that move, but make no attempt to fly.

Recognize on houseplants

If the small black beetles have already settled on the houseplants, then a quick reaction is required here. The black insects are often simply overlooked because of their size. If the plants show more yellow leaves that dry up and fall off, they should be checked for an infestation of thunderstorm creatures. Here are some home remedies that can help:

  • Soapy water and olive oil in water
  • spray with the atomizer
  • Insect mainly on leaf underside
  • remove all affected parts
  • dispose of in the residual waste
  • watch out for high humidity
  • Set up a humidifier
  • Spray plants with water

Fight in the garden

The garden plants can also be increasingly attacked by thrips after a thunderstorm. Therefore, if several small black beetles were already visible on your own skin or clothing during a muggy thunderstorm, the garden plants should also be checked for a possible infestation afterwards. After that, the following measures should be initiated:

  • watch out for high humidity
  • Thrips like it dry
  • therefore shower off plants in the late evening
  • only when the sun has gone down
  • Remove any parts of the plant that are already affected
  • Spray the remaining leaves with a mixture of olives, washing-up liquid and water
  • use natural enemies to get rid of
Note: If you have a greenhouse, then the thrips also occur here. In such a case, you can use natural enemies. These are predatory mites, which you can get from well-run specialist shops and place directly on the affected plants.

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