What Are Those Black Bugs On Your Chives? No Time To Waste

Thrips on a leaf – Source

Growing chives indoors is one of the best ways to ensure fresh, tasty, and chemical-free supply of those tasty grass-like leaves whenever you want. However, even an easy-to-grow herb like chives can come with problems as the presence of unknown harmful black bugs. Based on extensive research and expert gardeners’ experience, this post has you covered explaining all you need to know regarding those pests.

Hence, what are those black insects on your chives? The black bugs that might appear on chives are known as thrips. These are small insects that feed on plants sucking their fluids. This will cause the affected tissue to pale and die off. An extensive invasion can quickly kill a whole plant if not dealt in time.

Now that you know that those bugs are called thrips. However, what are they? Answering this question is key if you want to get rid of them. Keep reading to know more about what they are and how to handle them on your chives.

What Are Those Black Bugs On Your Chives?

Thrips are small, black pests that you might also see appear on your plants as tiny white specs since there are a variety of thrip species. Since they’re so small, they usually pass unnoticed until they have already heavily infested the whole plant. They’re a fairly common pest to get into your home.

Close lookup of a mature thrips on a leaf – Photo of Ryszard 1 in Flickr

They pose a real threat to your chives (and plants in general) as these pests suck the leaf’s liquid/nutrients. This will cause (at the very least) delayed growth and (quite often, especially if in large amounts) serious damage to the plant. Indeed, the leaf area around the point in which the thrips are feeding will start dying off. You will indeed notice small yellow/silver patches followed by the whole leaf becoming pale and die.

Example of thrip damage on a leaf, patches are often silver, but can also be darker (yellow/brownish)

While they don’t typically kill plants outright, they can heavily damage the quality of the chives you reap later. This is why it’s so important to take action as soon as you spot them.

Since they can infest a plant quickly and can do notable damage in large numbers, it’s crucial to keep your eye on your chives. However, do not be obsessed with it; this should not be a daily task. When you water your chives, have a quick look at the plant for anything strange or abnormal.

Most of the time, thrips appear as small black dots. At a close lookup, these little bugs resemble tiny lobsters and exist thousands of different species depending on where you live. Aside from chives, these insects also appear on herbaceous plants like garden vegetables and only occasionally on roses.

However, even if you do not see them directly, two signs that might indicate the presence of thrips are:

  1. Many small white/silver patches-streaks on leaves, as shown in the photo before. These are the dead areas around their feeding points;
  2. Black spheres. These are their feces. Thrips are also known to spread certain viruses such as tomato spotted wilt virus and fungi. However, the good news is that chives are rather disease-resistant usually and suffer only from the direct damage these insects cause. However, when it comes to the risk of these pests for humans or pets, you don’t have to worry. If they do bite (some species can), the bites only cause mild irritation without any long-lasting or dangerous effects.

Can You Get Rid Of Thrips?

There are a lot of different options available to you if you’re looking to eradicate the thrip population in your chives. The first approach that most people might think of is pesticides. However, the chemicals on plants are typically frowned upon when they can be avoided.

If you want to use an insecticide, it’s a good idea to use an organic formula, definitely safer for consumption purposes, and limiting the waste (from packaging and transport) in the environment. Remember, insecticides aren’t usually a one-time-use formula. You’ll need to keep up with the instructions and follow the treatment plan carefully. It can also help as a first strong start to remove the first large batch of thrips from your plant.

Another approach, totally chemical-free, is to lay an old cloth under the chives and gently shaking them out. The thrips will fall on the fabric and so get rid of them. Of course, this zero-cost and straightforward approach is not a bulletproof way to get rid of all thrips (some might hide in the soil). Still, it can help to decimate their population, especially in case of evident infestation.

The most effective way? Potted plant traps are great in controlling pests. Harris Potted Plant-Insect Traps (check them here on Amazon) is an inexpensive and pesticide-free option. These are just sticky pieces of special paper (usually yellow or blue in color) designed to attract insects. Once the victim lands on them, it does not have any chance to escape.

A close look up of a battlefield of dead insects in plant trap – Photo from Flickr

The other two popular options are neem oil and insecticidal soap. The former works by suffocating thrips until they die off the plant. Neem oil does increase the risk of burning, so you’ll want to be careful.

Getting rid of these black bugs on your chives isn’t just about treating the plant either. You also need to treat the soil to ensure that they’re entirely gone. It can help to repot your plant, making sure to use fresh soil and cleaning the pot you’re using before replacing the chives plant.

Indeed, thrips have the habits to also hide in the soil during their evolution from larval to adult form. Remember, when replanting (for a detailed guide, check this article), to verify that you do not have thrips on the replanted plants. Otherwise, all your effort will be vain as the population will proliferate again.

What To Do After?

Generally, you don’t have too much to worry about after a thrip infestation is handled. Once the thrips are gone, monitor your chives for a week to be sure they are gone for good.

If the chives are taken under regular care, they will be strong and healthy as before rather quickly. You do not need to worry about them being unedible or any significant changes in the quality of the chives.

What is essential to watch out for is that there are no signs of thrips returning. As already mentioned, there are sure signs to keep an eye out for. The apparent damage or the presence of white or black bugs on the plant are the most blatant signs. If you notice these, start the process of ridding the plant of thrips immediately.

You should also be sure to keep up with any ongoing treatments you might be used to prevent additional infestations. Products like insecticides and bug traps need to be used repetitively rather than once.

If you don’t use them as instructed, you risk the fact that you aren’t getting their full benefits, which could lead to an additional infestation of thrips. It’s also a good idea to remove any dead plant residue from your garden regularly to ensure you don’t create another suitable situation for the thrips to move in on.

How To Prevent Trips On Coming On Your Chives?

Thrips often enter the home with organic matter like soil, plant cutting, plants. The best way to avoid them is to make sure you aren’t bringing anything contaminated into the house. The most insidious carrier is undoubtedly the soil as thrips might hide within it. In this case, sterilize your soil to be sure. Here you can find a full guide with infographics and video.

Thrips Life Cycle

Thrips, as discussed in this authoritative resource, have a five-stage life cycle:

  1. Egg
  2. Larvae
  3. Prepupal
  4. Pupal
  5. Adult stages

Male thrips live typically 19 days while females as long as 30 days and have up to 300 eggs. This explains why you can end up with a colony of thrips in no time if left unchecked for two weeks.

When thrips lay eggs, they insert them into a slit in the soft tissue of a plant. Once they’re born, they enter the larval stage during which they feed on your plant. At larva stage are usually white/semi-transparent and quite small (below 1mm).

Full-grown, thrips are small insects that don’t grow to more than 1/20″ (around 10mm). Up close, their appearance is often compared to lobsters since they have a similar body shape. Given that there are about 6000 species (yes, you read well), it is almost impossible to provide a unique description of them. Their color varies greatly from black, white to even vivid red, although the blacks are quite common in North America.

On a final note, you don’t typically have to worry about thrips attracting other bugs as discussed here differently, from the instance, from aphids as discussed here that usually attracts ants (happy to farm them).

Related Questions

What are the natural thrips predator? Among the most famous thrips predators, there are: cucumeris, Nemasys, Orius insidiosus, Stratiolaelaps scimitus, Amblyseius swirskii, and Amblydromalus limonicus

How to avoid thrips from biting humans? Although plants mainly attract thrips, thrips occasionally bite humans as well. That’s why do exist spray repellent specifically designed to be applied on human skin that is proven to repel thrips effectively.

Further Readings

6 Reasons For Droopy Chives – https://yourindoorherbs.com/do-you-have-droopy-chives-6-reasons/

5 Easy Ways To Sterilize Your Potting Soil – https://yourindoorherbs.com/easy-ways-to-sterilize-potting-soil-with-infographics-and-video/

16 Powerful Herbs That Will Keep Your House Pest Free – https://yourindoorherbs.com/16-powerful-herbs-that-will-keep-your-house-pest-free/

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