Most people are highly protective of their Monstera plants – unsurprisingly – and you might be interested in learning about the many different pests that can appear on this species, as well as how you can deal with them.
The presence of thrips will often show in a few different ways, with wilting leaves, black spots, and discolored foliage all signifying the presence of these insects. Fortunately, thrips are usually fairly easy to deal with, and you may be able to remove them naturally, or by using some readily available insecticides.
How Do I Know If My Monstera Has Thrips?
Diagnosis is the first important step with any insect infestation; you don’t want to risk finding that you are trying to tackle the wrong pest. Take some time to inspect your Monstera and look for the normal key indicators of thrips. These may include:
- Discoloration, usually yellow or brown, on the plant’s foliage
- Wilted, curled, or drooping leaves
- Black spots on the undersides of the plant’s leaves
All of these are indicative of the presence of an insect invader, although wilting and discoloration can be signs of other pest species too. If you are seeing this sort of problem with your plant, consider grabbing a magnifying glass so you can take a closer look.
Thrips are not very visible to the naked eye, but you should be able to spot them using a magnifier. These bugs are usually brown, white, or yellow, and they often cling to the undersides of leaves, making it harder for predators to spot them. If you think your Monstera has thrips, gently turn and inspect its leaves.
If you can see tiny, thin insects crawling around, your Monstera has thrips. Another way to ascertain this is to shake the leaves over a sheet of plain paper. The thrips will fall off, becoming considerably easier to spot once they are on the paper.
How Do I Control Thrips On A Monstera?
Once you have ascertained that your Monstera does have thrips, you need to take action to get rid of them as soon as possible. The longer they remain on the plant’s leaves, the sicker your plant will get and the harder it will be to kill the infestation. Thrips can be difficult to remove at any time, so prioritize getting on top of them quickly.
It’s worth noting that one of the things that make thrips tricky to handle is that these insects are constantly laying eggs, and not all of the control methods will prove effective against the eggs.
This means that a new generation can hatch even though you have dealt with the adults. You will often need to treat for thrips multiple times in order to get all of the insects, catching the babies as they hatch, but before they can lay eggs of their own.
There are a few ways to control thrips on your Monstera plants, so let’s cover the different options that you might choose to use, starting with the natural remedies.
Method One: Neem Oil
Neem oil is a go-to method for treating all kinds of plant pests because it kills insects reliably, and it’s relatively easy to spray the leaves with it. You should dilute the oil according to the bottle’s instructions, and consider also adding a small splash of soap.
Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and test it on one of your Monstera’s leaves to check that it does not harm the plant. Leave it for a few hours, and then inspect the leaf for any damage or adverse reaction.
If your Monstera seems fine, lightly spray the plant all over, coating its leaves. You should make sure you are getting the undersides of the leaves, as well as the surfaces. Because Monsteras have large leaves, the thrips may manage to shelter from the oil on the undersides if you don’t spritz these as well.
Leave the plant to dry. Neem oil works while wet, so by the time it has dried, it will stop taking effect. For best results, spray the plant when the weather is cool, so the oil has more time to work. Keep your Monstera away from the sunlight to prevent the mixture from drying out too fast.
Neem oil has quite a strong scent, and the residue will remain on the plant for a couple of days. Don’t reapply the spray for a few days, but instead give the plant a break and then see if the thrips are still there. It may take a few doses of neem oil to kill them all, especially for an established colony of thrips.
Be careful not to put too much neem oil on your Monstera; the oil will kill it if applied in large doses. Instead, use neem oil sparingly, and in conjunction with other methods if necessary. It’s better to apply too little than too much.
Method Two: Use A Lint Roller
If you have a lint roller lying around, this can be an effective way to rid your Monstera of thrips. These insects will stick to the surface and die very quickly. Because Monsteras have large leaves, it is relatively easy to run the lint roller over the top and bottom of each leaf, removing the insects.
Simply take a leaf and support it flat with one hand, and use the other to run the roller over the top of the leaf. Turn the leaf over, and run the roller over the bottom. Almost all of the thrips should be picked off using this method.
It is more difficult to clean the stems using the lint roller, but you can run it over any stems that you can reach. For best results, do this for several days running to catch thrips that you have missed and remove them.
Method Three: Prune The Leaves
If one or two leaves are particularly heavily infested, consider removing them and throwing them away. However, you don’t want to do this with more than a few leaves, as it could weaken your plant and cause unnecessary stress.
The wounds may also encourage other insects or bacterial infections. If you are going to cut off foliage, use sterile shears and remove as little as possible.
It is also a good idea to remove as many thrips as you can using a lint roller or other methods first. This will minimize the number of thrips that drop into the soil from the leaves that you are removing, reducing the reinfection rates.
Method Four: Use An Insecticide
If you don’t trust the natural methods or they aren’t proving effective, you might wish to try a commercial insecticide. These come in many different varieties, but many are effective on thrips.
You should follow the directions for use on the container. It’s always a good idea to test the insecticide on a small, inconspicuous part of the plant before using it, even if it is intended to be safe for Monsteras.
Once you have ensured that the insecticide isn’t harmful, apply it following the package instructions, and wait for results. If you think that you need more than one application, refer back to the instruction manual to see how frequently it can be applied.
If you have any pets or young children, bear in mind that insecticides could be harmful, and keep the plant away from any risk of consumption.
Method Five: Add Some Ladybugs
If you have a really bad infestation of thrips spread across multiple plants, you may find that the most time-effective method of removing them involves adding some ladybugs. These will spread among the plants, preying on the thrips and devouring them.
This method will not always work, as sometimes the ladybugs will not stay on the plants. However, for most severe infestations, they will stick around until at least most of the thrips have been dealt with. Ladybugs are fierce predators and will eat many pest species, so this may also help to get rid of other pests if you are having problems.
You can buy ladybugs online and they are a good natural method of pest control. Kids will enjoy watching them feed on the thrips, and this can save a lot of time and hard work if you’ve got a serious infestation.
How Do You Prevent Thrips On Monsteras?
There are a few ways to prevent thrips on your Monstera, although none are totally foolproof. Let’s explore how you can keep your Monstera safe from thrips in the first place.
Method One: Cleanliness
One of the best methods is to keep the plant clean and free from dust, as dirty leaves tend to attract pests. Monsteras have large leaves that will gather dust surprisingly quickly.
To clean your Monstera’s leaves, get a damp cloth and wipe them once every week or two. This has the added advantage of making sure your plant looks great.
Method Two: Get Rid Of Weeds
Another method involves keeping the soil around your plant’s base free from any weeds. Thrips will shelter in the weeds and munch on them and may keep getting onto your Monstera no matter what you do if they have weeds to retreat to.
Remove any weeds that are growing, and keep your Monstera’s pot clean and tidy. This will also make your plant happier and less stressed – which takes us on to the next method.
Method Three: Reduce Stress
If you’re concerned about plant predators, try to minimize any stress that your Monstera feels. If your plant is sick, suffering from over or underwatering, or getting too much or too little light, it becomes far more vulnerable to predatory insects.
Healthy plants are more resilient when it comes to dealing with insects, whereas sick ones often get repeated infections. This is frustrating because the insects themselves will make your plant sicker, which can result in a vicious cycle.
Combat this by getting on top of any other issues in your plant’s environment. For example, if your Monstera is suffering from too much sunlight, put up a curtain to protect it. If it is hungry, fertilize it. A healthy Monstera has far more pest-resistance than a sickly one.
Method Four: Space Your Plants Out
Insect infestations can spread quickly among plants that are bunched up together, and this may make it much harder to get on top of them. No matter what kinds of plants you have, giving them all a little breathing room can make them healthier.
It has the additional advantage of ensuring that your plants get enough airflow, which helps to keep their leaves dry. This, in turn, reduces the risk of both bacterial and insect infections.
If you identify a plant that has thrips isolate it quickly. It is much harder to deal with infestations on multiple plants than on a single plant, because the insects can move between them to hide from your treatments.
Keep it isolated until you are sure you have got rid of the insects that were living on it.
Method Five: Quarantine New Plants
Whenever you get a new plant, it’s worth quarantining it for a few weeks before you put it near your other plants. It is common for insect infestations to originate from a new plant you have introduced, and even if you know and trust the plant’s source, it’s good practice to separate it for a while.
This will give you time to identify whether a new plant has insects on it, and makes it easier to treat the infestation if it does. You should also look out for signs of insect infestations in the store before you buy a plant, and avoid buying plants that look sick.
As a Monstera owner, it will be up to you to diagnose, control, and prevent pest issues on your plants, and thrips are certainly a threat that you should be prepared to deal with. Remember that prompt action is key to dealing with infestations, so isolate your plant as soon as you spot an issue, and treat it as quickly as you can.