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Controlling Daylily Thrips

Thrips are the bane of evey daylily grower, hybridizers and collectors alike. The tiny insect can destroy a flower crop and at the very least willl make your daylily blooms twisted, distorted, muddy and off color. We have even found insects which appeared to be thrips inside of distorted daylily seed pods. If you find buds turning brown and dropping off thrips are the likely culprit. Before you start wildly spraying put up a few thrip traps. Take a small piece of cardboard or wood and paint one side yellow and one side blue. Attach to a stake, smear with petroleum jelly, insert the traps in your daylily garden and wait. Withn a few days you should have a few tiny dark (sometimes orange or yellow) insects trapped in the jelly.

If indeed you are infested with the dreaded thrip a very aggressive campaign is required to control them. We use systemic rose fertilizer which contains a thrip insecticide in early spring when soil temperatures reach 60 degeees.  In warmer areas perhaps in late winter would be the time to treat. This allows the insecticide to kill the thrips as they emerge from the soil long before flowers appear. Later applications of this insecticide will kill bees and other beneficial insects so we use only one application of systemic insecticide.  We do routine patrols with a sprayer of neem or spinosad if a daylily plant appears to be under attack. It is also helpful to snap off any yellowing buds and put them in the freezer to kill any thrips inside. Sprays are not very effective because the insects burrow into buds and leaves where the sprays do not reach but using all three approaches should keep the pest under control.

Dry weather encourages the thrips and some daylilies are more attractive than others to the insect. 2012 has been a very bad year for them here and each year seems to get worse. An early and agressive campaign is required if the thrip finds its way to your garden.

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