Thrips – the bane of pitcher plant growers, the world over. These tiny devils invade your plants, carried to them on breeze or introduced by other infested plants. Thrips have asymmetrical mouths with the right mandible being vestigial, or missing all-together, and the left mandible being finely-honed to a needle-like stabby-stabby dagger used to shank your plant’s cellular walls and suck them dry one at a time. One species, the Western flower thrip, is abbreviated as WFT. They got that wrong. It’s more like WTF?!
You’ll first notice these pests by the distinct silvery, scraped damage wrought on the surface of your pitcher plants. To add insult to injury, they poop all over your plant, leaving behind scattered black specks on the open wounds. They’re not incredibly picky eaters, and will commonly attack Sarracenia (I’ve got 99 problems, and every one of them is thrips), Nepenthes and Darlingtonia. Mercifully, there are pesticides to eradicate them.
While I normally advocate natural methods of pest control, especially when talking about food crops, I have little patience with insects that harm my carnivorous plants. Therefore, I pull out the big guns; Orthene is a good systemic insecticide that will poison thrips for months following a foliar spray onto your pitcher plants. A systemic insecticide works by being absorbed and circulated by your plant’s tissues, poisoning thrips that feast upon them. It’s a last meal, and execution all rolled into one.