SIZE: Tiny insect; only one to five millimeters in length.
COLOR: Varies, depending on species. Most are dark with whitish or translucent wings that are long, thin and fringed with long hairs.
BEHAVIOR: Thrips primarily feed on plants, although some species are predaceous or feed on fungal spores. These insects are usually seen in buildings only when the populations on landscape plants grow large. Thrips may be attracted to buildings by the heat or coolness given off or by other factors. Once on a building, their tiny size gives them easy access inside — insect screens pose no barrier to them. These insects are important because they will bite people even though they do not feed on blood like mosquitoes and mites. It is unknown why they bite when they land on exposed skin, but the resulting bite can produce a stinging sensation and be quite painful. Often, bites occur to people sitting or working outdoors near plants, which harbor the thrips. They may fly onto a patio or deck, then land on a person and bite. As a result, they have been known to disrupt dining experiences on restaurant patios.
Shrubs and other landscape plantings attract thrips to and around buildings.
Once thrips are identified as the culprit, the plantings they infest will require treatment by a tree and shrub care company. Pest control companies do not typically carry the necessary licenses to treat plant pests, but some pest control companies will be licensed and offer such services. It is recommended to consult a professional for advice.