lyannastarknola

Roll Call: Who's got chilli thrips? Where? What do you do about them?

lyannastarknola
August 20, 2018

*raises hand in New Orleans*

They are SO destructive and I'm terrified for everything in my garden. Every bit of new growth, foliage included, is ruined, and all of my roses are under 2 years old so they don't stand a chance.


They are the ONLY things I spray for (Spinosad). Blackspot? Whatever. Aphids? Who cares. But these guys are relentless. Spraying after sunset whenever I spot new growth is working so far, for the most part, but good lord. The older roses do seem to be less affected, but I just cannot believe how insidious they are and how many things they are poised to ruin.


Have you found they get worse or better under certain conditions? I'm hoping they just really like the heat and will calm down in the fall but that's mostly just crossing my fingers, and it's not like we get real fall or winter here anyway. Has anything worked for you? Any predators? Does the damage get less noticeable on older/larger/established roses?

Comments (91)

  • lyannastarknola

    Whoa! It's kind of crazy they just have those out on display. If there's anyone lucky enough to have missed out on chilli thrips so far, they could easily carry them home just from passing by.


    We had a nice rain yesterday and we've proooobably seen our last 90F until spring, so hopefully my poor roses can relax a bit and push some non-mutated growth for awhile. They're manageable but definitely the toughest pest I have and I am very excited for the off season!

  • Tiffandrew-So.CA/9b
    It is a bummer Lisa. My hope now is that we know what to look for and will be ready for it earlier so it doesn't get bad next year. It will be extra work for us though.

    It is disappointing that the nurseries are not on top of this. I spoke to my local nursery about it and they had not heard of chilli thrips. They thought I was talking about thrips on chile plants. I explained about the damage to roses (and other plants). Hopefully they'll look more into it...? We'll see...I think there's going to be a learning curve here in Southern California.
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  • Lisa Adams

    I know! It’s shocking that these nurseries claim to employ horticulturists, but when I pointed it out to them, they had no idea what I was talking about either. May I ask what local nursery you spoke to? My pictures were taken At Armstrong Garden Center in Rancho Peñasquitos. Sad that someone could unknowingly bring these pests home to infest their gardens. It’s looking like they’re almost everywhere in our area, already. I saw evidence of them on the ‘Felicia’ rose I gave my mother. It’s the only rose she grows, and she lives about a mile from me. Lisa

  • Tiffandrew-So.CA/9b
    It was at El Plantio. I don't go there for their roses. They usually only sell weeks roses, but they have great CA natives and wonderful fruit trees.
    Interestingly, I was at the Armstrong's nursery you mentioned about a month ago and I saw the sad David Austin section of leftovers. Not only did they look terrible, but they were still priced at $45! I couldn't believe it!
    I'm sorry to hear they were on your Mom's Felicia rose. Hopefully it will recover soon with our cooler nights. I've been looking at that rose in addition to the cornelia rose that Annie's Annuals has...as you can tell the chilli thrips hasn't ruined me on roses yet. Aside from the thrips situation, does your mom like Felicia? Sorry to change topic.
  • Lisa Adams

    She loves it, and so do I. I bought mine from Annie’s and liked it so much that I bought one for both my mom and my sister. Sadly, my sisters dog did hers in shortly after she planted it. Mine has grown like crazy in spite of coming in a 4” pot. It’s one of my favorites, and has at least some blooms nearly all year. Mine is in quite a bit of shade, but blooms just fine. I think you’d love her. I wouldn’t be without her! Lisa

  • Tiffandrew-So.CA/9b
    Oh wow! Beautiful blooms! Thanks so much for your feedback Lisa! I have a morning sun only that may work!
  • TooMuchDoggies-SoCal9B

    Just found this thread---wondering how everyone is doing with the chilli thrips this year. I just "discovered" them (newbie to roses and gardening in general) late August when they'd chewed up one bush quite badly. My new garden just went in late Spring so all the plants are still babies. After 5 rounds of spinosad (Monterey) I was able to get in one canola oil/castile soap spray when it cooled down enough. Then a 6th round of spinosad and we were good for about 2 wks but this hot dry snap and crazy winds brought them back.

    I see them everywhere. We were in Disneyland and I spotted them on their roses too. I am spotting them on all the neighborhood roses exc the ones in front of the Catholic church (holy water?). Those had aphids but I have not read that aphids eat chilli thrips.

    I'm in Riverside/Inland Empire/SoCal9B

  • Amanda Zone10Socal

    They are definitely still chewing everything up in my yard. It is crazy how the weather affects them so much. They don't really get on some varieties in my yard, they leave jude and Cloud 10 completely alone, maybe the church has rose varieties they don't like?

  • TooMuchDoggies-SoCal9B

    Amanda--I'm not at that stage where I can ID the different roses yet, they're pretty much whatever my landscaper put in. ("put in something that is low maintenance and pretty"---famous last words). They started on my peach-colored (strongly scented) roses first, they go for the buds *and* new leaves on those. Then they went to my white and pink ones, they don't seem to go for the flowers/buds, just the leaves. I brought home a new red one (kiddo calls it Beauty and the Beast red) and it had CT's on them.

    I'd just read that they're gone by October....and it's November. Where's the cooling weather? Remember when it used to cool down by Halloween?

    I think I have to resign myself to living with CT's at this stage. Even if I can knock them out of my yard, with the windy conditions around here they'll just blow back in, won't they?

    My background---famous for black thumbs *and* black fingers. Usually can kill a plant by just looking at it (or buying it). But every decade or so I find something I am not good at and try to conquer a new frontier. Gardening would qualify for the "something I am not good at"!

  • lyannastarknola

    The struggle is real! We had the driest September on record and an insanely hot October and the CTs had a field day. They love any and all new growth on any and all roses. They are monsters.


    I have a small yard full of young roses, so it's not a huge endeavor to spray when I see new growth starting to sprout, with a very weak spinosad solution. That does seem to hamper them for awhile. (This is pretty cheap if you have a small/young garden: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000BWY3OQ/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1 )


    But at some point this fake fall, I just gave up. We finally had our last day 90F day a couple of weeks ago, and the established plants are exhausted but recovering nicely for the most part. The babies didn't make it though. Just too much stress on the poor lil ladies. Sorry, Maries Daly and Pavie.


    One thing that usually helps (but not this year!) is the summer thunderstorms. So you could play "lesser of two evils" and water from above - more fungus but fewer CTs. (Bonus points if it's holy water, looks like! How many priests does it take to bless the water supply of an entire city?) I'm gonna have blackspot either way, so it's worth a shot for me. But yes, mostly just commiserating. Bring on the "winter" so I can stop fretting about them for a few months!

  • haku84_zone9

    My yard is being attacked by them now pretty bad. I noticed as well that towards the end of August is when they really take off in my yard. I'm gonna try to do a better job spraying this year. I also noticed that they attacked my strawberries. I wish there was an easy solution. I ordered conserve on amazon, and the bottle wasnt even full! For how much it cost you would think the contents would be filled to the rim!


    https://www.desertrosesociety.com/chilli-thrips

  • Amanda Zone10Socal

    Toomuchdoggies- yeah they keep saying something on the weather about pressure systems or something, so we’re stuck with “fire weather”. It is cold at night finally though! I think the idea of making them leave completely doesn’t really apply, its more about controlling damage. They totally blow around but they also just multiply like crazy so even if there’s one left they come back. As for being bad at gardening, roses are pretty tough around here, I kill plants regularly but only one of my roses has died and I think it was sick when it got here.

    The thrips also seem to hate shade, they only really bother the sunny front yard, all my part shade roses are fine.

    Lyanna- in Bali, they run all the irrigation water for the farms through a temple first, maybe that would be a good solution.

  • TooMuchDoggies-SoCal9B

    Amanda---We've had two casualties already. My gardener put one rose bush too close to the valve box for the lawn sprinklers so the ground was always marshy. We moved it to save it and it died :-(. Another one, well, he forgot to put a drip emitter on it ;-)........it's only half dead but I think I'm going to replace it.

    My landscaper/gardener is a nice and earnest young man, but a bit lacking in experience. I had to learn a lot about irrigation, sprinklers, different water and sun needs and tolerances. Had some overwatered salvias fall over, some overwatered aloes and agaves starting to rot, the beautiful red japanese maple got scorched and dehydrated. the palms' drip tubing got clogged off. It's an adventure to be sure! I've got spinosad, Dr Bronner's soap, canola oil, worm poop, chicken poop, cow poop, sewer sludge (milorganite), Epsom salts, seaweed sauce, fish sauce, dinosaur sauce (that's what i call my humic-fulvic acid). Just got a new 2 gallon sprayer to console myself about having to start up the spraying again. That being said, my family thinks gardening makes me a better person, something about learning about patience, and about beauty in spite of imperfection.

  • haku84_zone9

    TooMuchDoggies - I had the same problem with my gardener not having enough experience. Even tho he alleged to have knowledge of roses, he continued to cut my climbing roses even though I pointed them out to him.


    Gardener: "These roses arent blooming"

    Me: "Because you keep cutting CLIMBING ROSES"


  • TooMuchDoggies-SoCal9B

    DH: "pray and spray". Oh he's funny. But he carries the heavy bags of compost and mulch I have to keep buying to amend the "builder subsoil" :-).

    We had the Summer of Milk where I was able to defeat rust, powder mildew, aphids and blackspot with weekly spraying of milk. The spider mites were knocked down once I read about the overhead spraying (we have drip for the plants). But man, these chilli thrips...the worst. I read "don't spray more than 5-6 times, leads to resistance" (for the spinosad) and then "don't spray oil/soap if it's more than 85-90 degrees out" so i am really hoping for cooler weather.


    Are you spraying with spinosad every 5 days? 7? 10? every week for 5 wks? when you see damage re-emerging? are you even trying to rotate with oil and/or soap? i think i read that (rotating with oil and/or soap) on the Orange County rose society site, but then I read it doesn't work...


  • Amanda Zone10Socal

    I have just been spraying with spinosad here and there when it gets really bad, and cutting off the spent roses and putting them in the trash. I suspect the discarding the flowers is the most effective,since they lay eggs in the blooms, the damage has not been as bad this year as last for me. I own neem and insecticidal soap but no days when it's cool enough yet, since the problem is on the sunny side of the house.

  • TooMuchDoggies-SoCal9B

    thanks Amanda. my gardener just put in another rose bush. we'd lost the one after we transplanted it from The Bog Next To The Valve Box to save it! another 'baby' to spray.

    waiting till about an hour bf sunset today and will venture out to Spinosad with the new 2 gal sprayer. Current weather is 84 and 11% humidity with anticipated high of 92---how is this November???

  • roseseek

    " Current weather is 84 and 11% humidity with anticipated high of 92---how is this November??? "


    Welcome to the new "normal". It's been worsening for years. My last two winters in Encino, Zone 10a, the average daytime temp was in the nigh seventies to the EIGHTIES for December. Plants are flowering "out of season". Fruit is either setting at the wrong time or not at all. Fruit here isn't getting sweet due to lack of appropriate heat while others are frying. Imagine the influx of "climate refugees" we are going to face...

  • Rekha A 9a Houston area

    Looking at the pictures above, looks like I have them as well. Its It's starting to cool down, but next year I will spray. My Rose's are too young...

  • sharon2079

    I live in South Florida in Palm Beach County..... that is where the chili thrips were first found. They eat A LOT of different plants.... not just roses... I have been using Conserve.... but it seems that the are getting use to it.... and I was told to use a different spray.... so they can not become resistant to them.... here is a link that shows other promising sprays to use to kill chili thrips

    https://mrec.ifas.ufl.edu/lso/thripslinks.htm


    Also, at our last rose society meeting we had a guest speaker from the University of Florida come and talk about chili thrips and white flies.... I will try and look up his name.... I can't recall it right now. Any way he talked about biological control. There is some kind of bug called Amblyseius swirskii that will attack the chili thrips. You can grow ornamental peppers Masquerade , Red Missile, or Explosive Embers. which will host the swirski, The person that gave the talk gave our members one of the pepper plants. Once it starts flowering we can get the swirskiis to help control our chili thrips...... Don't know if it will help, but it does look promising.... There was a pepper farmer in mid Florida who had to spray every month for chili thrips, now he sprays once a year using the swirskiis to combat them..... I will let everyone know how well it works once I get my pepper plant and colony going....

    If you want to read an article https://mrec.ifas.ufl.edu/lso/BANKER%20IST/XIao%20et%20al%202012%20Ornamental%20pepper%20as%20banker%20plants.pdf

  • roseseek

    Thank you, Sharon! Per that paper, this biological is also a spider mite predator! 150 years ago, when the first farmers arrived here on the California Central Coast to begin farming, they began complaining about the wind, sand and SPIDER MITES. A century and a half later, other than too many people for too little water, NOTHING has changed.

  • TooMuchDoggies-SoCal9B

    Sharon, that would be a wonderful thing if biological control proves effective. Especially if planting the ornamental peppers might discourage the swirski from flying to my neighbors' like the ladybugs I once bought.......

    I have read that the Bayer granules containing imidacloprid can help w CTs, but I really do not want to kill off beneficial bugs, I have a pretty busy bee population in my garden. I was thinking today as I was trying to spray right bf sundown how hard it was to see the baby leaves in the fading light with my fading eyes.......

    Ah, spider mites. I remember looking at my rose leaves wondering what that pepper-like substance was. Once upon a time, not too long ago, I thought roses were hardy and low-maintenance. Where did I get that idea.......

  • sharon2079

    TooMuchDoggies, The same person who spoke to our society recommended the imidacloprid granulars too. He said it is better to use it than the imidacloprid that sprays on because the spray on will kill the beneficials, if you water the granulars in then you would have less good insects being targeted.


  • sharon2079

    Thank you roseseek for pointing out the the "critter" eats spider mites too.... If I don't hear it, or read it in a non scientific paper I sometimes don't get what it is trying to say.... I guess I sometimes zone out if the paper is too dry....

    Anyways I am very excited about the prospect.... even more so now..... maybe I can actually grow strawberries.... I have bought plants and lose them always before getting a strawberry.

    Thanks again for pointing this out about mites.

  • TooMuchDoggies-SoCal9B

    Sharon, thanks for pointing that out about the granules. that might be something to keep in the arsenal. I'm hoping that if I spray again next week, either spinosad or oil/soap, that it might keep things quiet till the weather cools.

  • Perma n’ Posies/9A FL

    Great info and article, Sharon—thank you for sharing!! :-)

  • socks

    They came late to me this summer in So. Calif. It’s sad.

  • Perma n’ Posies/9A FL

    I found the ‘Explosive Ember’ ornamental pepper seeds on Etsy,

    https://www.etsy.com/listing/723222249/explosive-ember-pepper-dwarf-ornamental

    and will post if I can get the A. swirskiis. :-)

  • roseseek

    Explosive Ember, Red Missile and Masquerade all certainly look like the potted ornamental peppers found in stores and nurseries, don't they? I think they've chosen those three types because they ARE so commonly grown in the trade. You found Explosive Ember. Here is Red Missile. http://www.reimerseeds.com/red-missile-hot-peppers.aspx And, Masquerade. http://www.reimerseeds.com/masquerade-hot-peppers.aspx

  • Amanda Zone10Socal

    Can you just put them on regular peppers? i already have some serranos next to my roses.

  • roseseek

    I would think it quite possible, Amanda. It appears to me they used those three specific varieties because they are widely grown in commercial greenhouse production, so they wanted to be sure they were hospitable to the mites in particular. How different could the pepper plants actually be from each other?

  • Perma n’ Posies/9A FL

    I grow lots of chili peppers, and I was wondering the same thing. The article mentions more A.s’s observes on EE, the smaller leaves and darker color proposed as why. I’m going to try it on all of them, and see if that’s true here, too. :-)

  • TooMuchDoggies-SoCal9B

    are the pepper growers planning on buying some swirskiis and releasing them into the garden?

  • roseseek

    My local Home Depot had Medusa for sale today. $5.98 a gallon.



  • Amanda Zone10Socal

    If i can find a source for them I will definitely get some mites.

  • Perma n’ Posies/9A FL

    Arbico is a great company for beneficials. That’s where I get my nematodes. They seem to have the best price on A.s. too. :-)

  • sharon2079

    I am not sure about other pepper plants. Unfortunately, I was not able to hear everything.... but I do remember that they chose these pepper plants because they produce LOTS of flowers. The Amblyseius swirskii will survive on these pepper plants pollen when "hopefully" no chili thrips are found. Also, it seems like he said that test pepper plants had tiny hairs on the underside of the leaves that helped to protect and make this a "banker" plant for the swirskii.... but that was where I couldn't hear very well.... sorry.....

    I did look at the underneath of the pepper plant he gave us but could not see any "hair" though he also said we should buy a magnifier so we could see exactly what is going on the plants......

    I don't think it is just any hot pepper plants... because here in Florida they grow all kinds of peppers sweet, bell and hot and hot-hot-HOT commercially. In order to help these farmers, they provided these ornementals with the swirskii to help control the chili thrips.... if it was just peppers or hot peppers then they would not have had to give a pepper plant to a pepper farmer...... Weather another ornamental pepper could support the swirskii's I think it is try at own risk.... not to say that it would NOT work.... it is just that the university has already done this.... You might want to get one of these three pepper plants to get your colony started, then introduce other peppers you would like to try.

  • TooMuchDoggies-SoCal9B

    Hmmm......I just noticed new leaf deformities on my star/confederate jasmine plants.......and i am reading that the darn CTs eat those too....


  • roseseek

    Yup, unfortunately, there isn't MUCH they DON'T eat. That's what makes them such a tremendous threat.

  • Amanda Zone10Socal

    Hmm well this is a project I’m going to work on in the spring I think, with some new pepper plants. It would be pretty great to be able to keep them at bay this way.

  • roseseek

    As long as you intend to maintain an organic, pesticide-free garden. The predatory mites are likely more susceptible to them than the CT's, like most other predators are.

  • Amanda Zone10Socal

    Roseseek, I've only been spot spraying spinosad for the thrips, and no fungicides or herbicides, I would prefer not to spray at all, I grew up in the middle of orchards so I think I've been exposed to enough sprays for my lifetime. I've been carefully selecting resistant varieties to minimize problems.

  • roseseek

    I don't blame you, Amanda. I applaud and love the idea of being able to plant peppers and release the predatory mites in hopes of them helping to reduce the CT's. I also hope those who take that route choose not to spray anything so they don't harm the predatory mites.

  • Amanda Zone10Socal

    I haven’t found a reasonably priced source yet though, everything i’ve found is out of the state and/or in commercial greenhouse quantities.

  • Stephanie, 9b inland SoCal

    A couple years after the article Sharon posted was published. This was published. I can’t link to it since I am searching for these articles through my workplace at Caltech, and you would get a broken link, but here is abstract copied below. It seems that an important consideration for a banker plant used to host the predator mites is “tuft domatia”, which are little chambers on the leaves that are meant to house the beneficials. The plants provide little hidey-houses along with pollen :-) The predator mite Amblyseius swirskii is an omnivore, eating both pollen and other mites, thrips, whitefly etc.

    Selecting an ornamental pepper banker plant for Amblyseius swirskii in floriculture crops. By: Avery, PB et al.
    Abstract:
    Preference of phytoseiid mite, Amblyseius swirskii (Athias-Henriot) was assessed on four cultivars of ornamental pepper banker plant candidates; Red Missile (RM), Masquerade (MA), Explosive Ember (EE) and Black Pearl (BP) for potential control of pestiferous insects in floriculture. Significant differences in cultivar preference by A. swirskii was observed in choice experiments whether the test was pre- (with pollen) or during bloom. Overall, female mites laid more eggs when pollen was provided as a food source. The number of tuft domatia per cultivar leaf appeared to positively influence host preference in the choice plant tests pre-bloom. In addition, cultivar RM had the highest mean number +/- A SEM of tuft domatia per leaf (5.1 +/- A 0.3) and motiles per plant (4.0 +/- A 1.2), followed by MA, EE and BP. In choice tests on blooming plants, A. swirskii showed preference for both cultivars RM and MA compared to EE. These experiments indicated that the number of tuft domatia and availability of pollen can influence the host preference of A. swirskii for an ornamental pepper banker plant cultivar. Results from this study will help growers, researchers, educators and extension personnel in understanding the plant phenology promoting adoption of suitable banker plants for managing greenhouse and landscape insect pests.

  • roseseek

    How interesting! Imagine hitting your local Home Depot or Lowe's and asking which pepper provides the most "tuft domatia" ! LOL!


  • TooMuchDoggies-SoCal9B

    pardon the slight detour.... is anyone else in so Cal (I'm inland zone 9b) seeing blackspot? I've got some black dots on the new leaves of one type.... trying to figure out if blackspot is back or maybe I stained them with the kelp-fish spray

  • roseseek

    Not up here in Santa Maria. We're "SoCal" in some descriptions and "not quite" in others.

  • sharon2079

    Stephanie thanks for the information..... I knew that there was something important about the under part of the leaves in order to host a colony of the "good mites". I guess when he said “tuft domatia” it went over my head, and I didn't understand what that was but picked back up when he used the analogy of hair on the leave I understood that.... but it wasn't real "hair" I was supposed to be looking for.... I know there are some really pretty ornamental peppers but I will probably stick to the recommended because there is no way for me to know if it has "hair" or not.... I can't see it.... and I doubt if I order seeds it will tell me..... but I am glad to know that I am not really looking for hair, but “tuft domatia” .


    Roseseek, you stated " I applaud and love the idea of being able to plant peppers and release the predatory mites in hopes of them helping to reduce the CT's. I also hope those who take that route choose not to spray anything so they don't harm the predatory mites." Our members thought so too..... and we asked our speaker accordingly.

    He suggested that since it gets so HOT here in Florida the CT's life cycle is very quick. We get huge numbers of CT's in a very short time. In order to keep them in control, we may have to use insecticide once in awhile to keep them in check..... So, our speaker thought we should keep our peppers in pots.... that is what they do in the greenhouses and farm grounds down here.... when a bad out break happens they can move the ornamental peppers can be moved to that locations for the swirskii's can attack the CT's there.... he also said that if we needed to remove the plant so we could spray we could and our colony would be relative safe.... though some of our good mites would be exterminated we would not lose the colony. It is like chess you have to sacrifice a few to win the game....

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