Teeny tiny bugs on cut flowers

Asked May 3, 2017, 7:51 AM EDT

During a very rainy time, I cut some lilacs from a new bush. I was arranging them at an old white sink and noticed all these tiny bugs. The bouquets ended up in the garage. A day later I cut some candytuft and grape hyacinth and noted the same problem. I don't want to stop making bouquets, but I don't think I want these critters in my house. I had to leave my flowers home from the hospital also. Can you identify these, should I be concerned?

Henry County Ohio

1 Response

Dear Client,

The tiny insects coming off your lilac, candytuft and grape hyacinth flowers are thrips, possibly western flower thrips- Frankliniella occidentalis. Thrips are attracted to brightly colored flower blossoms and tend to be a problem in landscape flowers early in the season. These adult thrips are winged and highly mobile. As the wildflowers and weeds come into bloom, the density of thrips on your flower blooms should begin to decline. Thrips will damage the flowers by rasping plant cells and sucking out the cell contents on the surface of the flower petals. This can cause intense flower color to fade and with a hand lens you might actually see little speckles of ghostly white spots. Nevertheless, this damage is cosmetic and few people try to manage thrips.

Thrips are harmless to humans and do not carry any human diseases, but they could cause slight surface discomfort while "tasting" human skin cells. Some people might complain about the sensation of having these insects crawling on them.

FMI, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_flower_thrips

Hope this information helps reduce any concerns you may have.