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Carnivorous Plants/Thrips and Sarracenia


Hello Christopher

Winter starts here in two days where I live at Tolga at 757 meters altitude near Cairns.

With my thrip invested Sarracenia, do you think it would be a good idea to cut ALL the leaves and pitchers of them including the older green growth now as the plants are mainly dormant.  I would leave the younger shoots that are not infested if there are any.  I am just wondering if cutting off all the older green growth as well could set the plant back in the coming growing season because I heard that the plant should have some green growth left on as a nutrient source for the plant.  However, removing all the older green growth would get rid of more of the thrips which are probably on this green growth. It is also much quicker to remove all the leaves than only selecting the dead leaves.

I also received an email from a large carnivorous plant nursery that said: "The best treatment to use is Yates Success, this is an extract from bacteria that is lethal to thrips, not much else works."

Another friend said "Spinosad fixed the problem".  They look promising and have low toxicity and are similar ingredient.  See

What do you think of these, and do you have any suggestions how to get rid of thrips without having to use very toxic chemicals?

Regards Richard.

Hello Richard,

I would certainly keep some healthy leaves to ensure the plant has an immediate method of obtaining sunlight after dormancy.

So far as control of insect pests, I typically do not have many issues with that and rarely use chemical controls. I have not used the methods you displayed. The main thing to ensure is that any chemical controls are not soap or fat based and/or add fertilizers to the soil.

If looking for less artificial methods to manage pests, you can clip the leaves back, just leaving a few inches of the most healthy for the spring, and then immerse the entire plant and pot in a bucket of water for 24-48 hours, take it out and let it set for a day, then immerse it again for 24-48 hours. Many bog plants like Sarracenia are occasionally waterlogged and will not be harmed by this, however; insects will drown if they do not remove themselves from the plant.

After you have taken the plant out of the bucket of water the second time, you can use a chemical control as well to ensure that the thrips are all killed off. Make sure that you use distilled, rain, or reverse osmosis water in the bucket.

If you prefer a more natural chemical control, you can use Neem oil. While not instant or as thorough as insecticides, it does tend to kill off insects slowly and keep them from wanting to remain near the sprayed plants. You could spray Neem oil on your plants after the water immersion treatment. To kill off any remaining larvae in the soil, you can use mosquito dunks dissolved in water and water your plants with it as shown in this site:

Good luck with getting rid of those thrips. They are notoriously difficult to kill off.

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Christopher Littrell


I am capable of answering questions about the most common carnivorous plants found in cultivation. I have no personal experience with Byblis, Drosophyllum, Aldrovanda, and Heliamphora. I have not cultivated gemmae forming pygmy sundews nor tuberous sundews. For information regarding those aforementioned species, I would suggest contacting other experts. I can answer questions regarding most species of Nepenthes, tropical and temperate Drosera, Mexican Pinguicula, Sarracenias, and Dionaea. I have some limited experience with growing Utricularia, Cephalotus, and Darlingtonia.


I have grown carnivorous plants off and on for about 27 years. I have made the same mistakes and suffered the same mishaps that many growers make as they attempt to separate the myths from the realities of growing these plants. Currently, I am successfully growing a variety of tropical sundews, a Nepenthes, several Venus Flytraps of varying ages, and Sarracenias. I have been successful in stratifying Sarracenia seeds and providing artificial dormancy requirements for my temperate plants when needed.

I hold a Master's degree in Educational Psychology. Over my lifetime, I have constantly read books involving the growing conditions of carnivorous plants. I hope to incorporate the educational aspects involved in psychology with teaching other people how to cultivate carnivorous plants.

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