Thrips on my Hydrangea? Help!

I have little green torpedo looking bugs ( maybe an 1/8"?) that flit all over my hydrangea and have now moved to my rose and I think they have also moved to my vegetable garden (which is coverd with a row cover). I think they are thrips but when I google for information most sources say thrips cannot be seen. So, what are these, and what can I do about them? They are causing my hydrangeas leaves to turn black and curl (at least I think they are causing this). When I brush the plant they fly all over the place. I have tried, diatomaceous earth, pyrethrin (Dr. Doom), insecticidal soap and just plain spraying with water. Help!!!

I am adding to my original post. I think I have finally found out what these little critters are…Leaf Hoppers. And now…what do I do about them? Everything I have read is that they are tough to erradicate as they are basically everywhere and that there damage is minimal. But not to my hydrangea. I would say it is infested. Please help…thanks.

My clematis have been attacked for the last three years and needless to say I removed 6 of them as they just ended dying mid season and the leaf hoppers then moved on to other plants. I spoke with Marni at Art Knapp’s and she said that they are virtually impossible to eradicate and it was at her suggestion to remove the clematis. I did follow a pesticide routine but it had no effect and I would rather not have to use them. As she said, there are other lovely plants out there that don’t attract these insects so why fight Mother Nature. Good advice in my mind but then they haven’t attacked my hydrangea, thank goodness.

Thank you! I think. Not what I wanted to hear. I am not giving up yet. Today I mixed castile soap, alcohol and some vegetable oil (a recipe I found online) and I am giving that a try. I will let you know how it goes.

Yes…please keep us posted! I have them too :frowning:

You could also try Neem Oil in your potion. You ban buy it at Edible Island.

I said I would update this post as to my trials and tribulatioins of dealing with what I thought were thrips but are leafhoppers - potatoe leafhoppers - in my garden. First, a bit of background…we moved here last June. The gardens here were dismal to say the least and not kept at all. They are now coming along nicely. I believe that the challenges I am having with my gardens (not vegetables as those are “new” in raised beds with fresh soil and covered with remy cloth for the whole season) has been due to a variety of factors. First, the beds were overgrown and not weeded nor cleaned up of plant debris. Even though I did that when we moved in, there are probably lots of goodies (ie. bug eggs and fungi) that have been at home for quite awhile in the debris and therefore soil. The hydrangea in question (where all this started), last year, developed crusty, black leaves. I attributed it to washing the outside of my house (and yes I did use a very mild bleach solution - don’t judge - it was necessary at the moment) and getting the solution on the leaves. But in retrospect, and learning more about this plant and plant diseases, the plant has anthrascnose. I let it overwinter, and in the spring got tired of it looking like it didn’t have a mommy, and cut it back to the ground. It would either grow back or die. Well, it grew back and looked amazing, until later summer when I noticed the black coming back and the bugs thriving. The bugs were there last year, just not as bad. So my “learning” experience from this is that a plant that is dealing with some issues, such as a disease, is not the healthiest and therefore, bugs love it. Also, I can’t fix what has been going on in the garden for many years. This holds true for the peach and plum trees that I have (they are having their own issues). They have probably never been sprayed with dormant oil - they for sure will be this year as well as the rest of my garden. So, getting back to the leafhoppers. Little buggers…they fly all over me when I am trying to “eradicate” them. They have now, basically, moved all over everything in the front and back gardens. So, here is what I tried: for 2 weeks every morning, I sprayed ALL the plants with streams of water. Nope. They are still there. Didn’t even seem to touch the numbers. Next, diatomaceous Earth…love the stuff. Helps with lots of bugs. But leafhoppers? They just laugh and smile at me when I am dusting the plants. And yes, I put it under the leaves on the stems, and all over me as well . :slight_smile: Next, Pyrethrin insectide. Oh yes, it worked. But when I turn the rose leaves (remember I said the bugs made their home all over my gardens???) over to check, if there was a spot that didn’t have white powder on it - they were there. Again, smiling at me. Smirking actually. So, my husband said to me " honey, why don’t you try a mosquito coil?". Okay, judge me as much as you want but I looked into it. Most mosquito coils use pyrethrins as the insecticde. So I thought why not? I can’t hurt this hydrangea anymore. So I coverd it with a tarp and every morning for a week I would light a small coil underneath the tarp. You know, like smoking the bugs out. Did the neighbors look at me funny? Yup! Did it work? Not a chance. They didn’t like it and converged under the tarp in hordes, but it did not kill them. Sheesh. The next trial was castile soap and a tiny bit of alchol (which was supposed to destroy the bugs membranes more than just the soap). Every morning (again, over about a 2 week period) I would spray the plants. I know you should do it once a week, but I was getting desperate. This seemed to help a bit, and a forum member suggested Neem oil. I had to wait for it to be ordered as it was out of stock but I have been using that now with the castile soap. I am going to say it is making a difference. The hydrangea still has the bugs but less, but the other plants are fairing pretty well. I also think the neem oil has helped with some powerdery mildew and even the mites that seem to have taken home in my garden because the leaf hoppers told them it was an amazing place. The “potion” I used was, in 3 L/1 gallon (how much my sprayer holds) of WARM water (the oil won’t mix with the soap if the water is cold) with 2-3 tsps of soap and 2-3tsps of neem oil. I haven’t been using the alcohol in it. Put the water in FIRST, then the soap, gently mix and then add the oil and gently mix. You also need to mix frequently while you are spraying. I like the castile soap because it doen’t get really sudsy. The neem oil. If you haven’t used it before is very thick, and thicker if it is cool. So you might need to warm it up to pour it into your container. Well, that are my trial and tribulations of managing leaf hoppers. Have a great Thanksgiving!


Wow…what a ‘journey’ you’ve been on! I admire your tenacity! Thx for sharing all this information …hopefully it will never need to be used!! :slight_smile: will be interesting to see how the dormant oil works come spring time…I truly hope you see some good improvement. Gardening can be a bit defeatist sometimes. Very glad that you have seen some improvement!

This is a great description! They are also a garden pet peeve of ours. I find that they attack our ferns and almost anything else in the garden and vegetables.They do not seem too plentiful in the beginning of the summer but by this time the plants are teeming with them.

Thank you so much Adena. I will try your neem oil potion…how often do ( or did) you spray it on?

I haven’t sprayed for awhile as it has been raining. And they are back. Grrr…My understanding is that at this time of year, in the fall, the adults could be numerous and they are looking for places to overwinter. So I am back to spraying as we have a few non-rain days coming up. Honestly? I was doing it everyday. Probably overkill though. I read that Neem oil does take awhile to work. I will caution you, that I do have a few leaves that have been sunburnt and I will say it is from the oil and bright sun. I will still spray though as it is getting to fall and the leaves should fall off anyways :slight_smile: They sure don’t like the Neem oil though. I don’t know if it kills them or they just leave (and go to my neighbors). Let me know how it goes. Good luck.

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