So, you have thrips in your picture frames.
They’re annoying little buggers crawling around (or dead) in your photo frames.
You can’t even enjoy a trip down memory lane without these annoying, minute yellow fleas running around under the glass.
Don’t fret! You’re about to learn how to get rid of them once and for all.
In this article, we’ll talk about:
- Why thrips are attracted to photo frames
- How thunder bugs got into your frames
- Ways to get rid of thunder bugs stuck under your picture frames
- How to keep thrips out of your home
- And more
By the end of this handy pest control guide, you’ll have everything you need. Then you never have to deal with them stuck on your photos again.
And as always, if you have any questions, just leave a comment!
Sound good? Let’s send those thrips outside where they belong.
How did thrips get inside my picture frame?
Thrips (AKA thunderbugs, thunderfly, harvest bugs, physopods, thunderblight, storm flies, corn lice, corn flies, and freckle bugs) come from the outdoors after it rains.
They’re high humidity loving pests and also like warm weather.
They stay outside and puncture the outer layer of crops, stems, and leaves to suck out the nutrients with their sharp piercing mouthparts.
Sometimes, thunderbugs will find their way into your house after rainfall.
They may be coming in through damaged window screens, under the door, hitching on veggies and fruits, or even through weatherstripping that’s been worn down.
Thrips are seeking warmer conditions, moisture in the air, and shelter.
Your home makes the perfect environment. That’s when they get into your photo prints.
What are they attracted to?
Thrips are attracted to the color white, and possibly yellow, which explains why they’re getting into your frames.
White backings and tinted photos both exhibit yellow and white tones, so the thrips will waltz into the frame naturally.
Thrips also don’t usually come into the home unless there’s a reason to. They’re active when the temperatures are high, such as during the summer.
Thrips thrive in hot climates and humidity, so you’ll see them outdoors during this time.
They may invade your home if there’s something that’s attracting them inside, such as preferable humidity, food, shelter, water, or warmth.
You may also be bringing them in without knowing it when you step outside.
They can hitchhike on your clothing and your pets. Thrips can also come in through damaged window screens, torn weatherstripping, or open doors.
Widows and door gaps are the two main entry points for these pests.
And eventually, after they get inside your home, they’ll look for food and shelter and will come across your photo frames. This is how they get into your frames.
Attraction to light
Thrips like light and many people present their photos using a directed light source.
This just adds more fuel to the fire of attracting thunderbugs to your photo frames.
The light also gives off extra warmth, which also brings thunderbugs to your pictures.
What do they eat?
Thrips eat crops.
They’re known to destroy crops across the US by consuming the buds, flowers, new foliage, and other parts.
Thunderbugs especially like the softer and younger parts of the plant.
They have piercing parts in their mouths they use to puncture the epidermal layer of the plant and then extract plant nutrients. They don’t eat your photos or picture frames.
Why are they in my picture frame?
They’re in there because it offers two things:
- A stable temperature (warmth)
- Yellow or white colors
That’s about it.
They don’t have any other reason to dig into your frames other than seeking out a preferable average temperature and possibly the color of your pictures.
Picture frames make the perfect environment
Thrips seek warmth and humidity.
This is why you commonly see them after heavy rains which involve thunder (hence their name “thunderbugs”).
After the rains, they’ll seek out food and shelter, sometimes which results in them getting into your home.
Your frames offer them a cozy hiding place from predators and controlled temperatures.
They’re also attracted to the white and yellow hues of the frame or pictures. In nature, they eat plants that are these colors.
So when they see a picture, it’s not like they can discern the difference.
Plus, a lot of people highlight their frames with additional spotlights, which just makes them more attractive because you’re offering light (which mimics the sun), yellow/white (which looks like flowers), and a frame (which offers shelter).
So it’s no surprise you find them there.
Photo frames are never completely flush. The backing is removable so you can put the prints into the frame.
This gives a small amount of space for thrips, booklice, and silverfish to get inside.
You can use some kind of invisible tape to keep bugs out by taping the space.
Do thrips eat pictures?
No, they don’t.
Although they like the white and yellow colors in your pictures, they won’t eat them.
Thrips don’t eat prints or frames, no matter what materials it’s made from.
Wood, plastic, metal, whatever. Thrips aren’t interested.
They eat garden plants, not photo prints.
After the rain, you’ll see swarms of thrips outside in your garden and may also see them crawling around your home. But don’t worry, they don’t eat up your pictures.
The only way you see the damage is from the dead thrips left behind. If they’re squished or you leave the bugs behind and rot, this could very well stain your prints.
This is why you should clean out your pictures periodically- they’re not dust-proof!
Even using a simple blast of air will do the trick.
Clean your photo frames weekly with a dry microfiber cloth.
This will wipe off any dust and debris on them and make them less susceptible to pests in general, like dust mites, tiny flies, carpet beetles, American and oriental cockroaches, and more.
How to get thrips out of your picture frames
Here are some ways you can easily get thunderbugs out of your pictures without using any harsh sprays or residues.
These techniques should be safe for the majority of standard prints.
But you should still exercise caution so you don’t damage your pictures.
Use compressed air to blow the thrips out
Thrips can easily be removed from picture frames by using a can of compressed air.
These are widely available and used for cleaning electronics, such as phones, computers and laptops.
You can buy a can of air and use it on your framed photos to blow out the thrips. The strength of the air can’t be contested by the thrips- they’re no match!
Plus, this solution is straightforward and cheap.
You can clean multiple photo frames with just a single bottle of air.
No need to spend money on a ton of it, unless you have a lot of pictures.
Do the following to clean up your photo frames:
- Grab the photo frame and bring it outdoors.
- Prepare a mixture of dish soap (2 tablespoons dish soap to a liter of water) in a container. Get a sponge also.
- Lay down a layer of dark construction paper that’s large enough to cover the frame. The paper makes it easy to spot the thrips so you can kill them.
- Otherwise, they can just go back into your house again after you spray them off.
- Dismount the frame. Take the frame apart, separating the photos and frame.
- Place the pieces of the frame and photos in separate areas on the construction paper.
- Start spraying the photo frame and pictures with a downward position so the thrips fall onto the paper as they’re blasted off.
- Dunk the sponge so that the entire thing is saturated with dish soap.
- Use the sponge and firmly “wipe” the paper to kill any loose thrips. You can then place the sponge back into the container to clean it off.
- Repeat the process until the entire frame and pictures are thrip free.
- This gets rid of thrips in the picture frame without damaging the photos
This should get rid of any thrip infestation you have. If you notice that the thrips come back, you may have more inside your home.
After all, that’s where they came, right?
Use basil herbs inside the frame
You can use the power of plants and herbs to naturally deter thrips.
Since herbs can be cut to a tiny size and STILL retain their aroma, you can stuff these inside the frame along the edges to hide them. They also act as an air freshener whenever you walk by the frame.
Of course, herbs will degrade over time so use some that last a long time before they dry out.
Just cut them down to size and stuff them into the area where the frame meets the glass.
From a quick glance online, the most promising herb is basil. You can cut it to size and stuff it into the space around the edges of the portrait
This should deter any thrips from coming into the portrait since they’re repelled by the strong aroma of the basil herb.
Be careful about overdoing it.
You don’t want the basil to be in contact with your prints for an extended period. It may smear or distort the colors. I haven’t tested this myself, but I’d be wary about it.
So just keep the basil off to the edges only and you should be OK.
Watch out for moisture too that may be leaching from the basil onto the prints.
Spray essential oils
Essential oils can also be used against thrips.
The nice part about using oils rather than basil pieces or other herbs is that the oil is nearly invisible.
You just spray some around the edges of the portrait under the frame and the thrips will stay out.
Some of the most effective essential oils to use against thunderbugs are marjoram oil, mint oil, and lavender oil.
You can purchase oils in a bottle form and dilute it with water so it’s not overpowering. There are plenty of recipes online for how to dilute essential oils, so I’ll spare you the details here.
Find oil and then dilute as needed. Then spray it around your frame to keep the thunderbugs away. Use as directed.
Note that some oils are harmful to people and pets who are sensitive, so be sure to do your research.
And diluting is easy, you literally just add a few drops to a volume of water and then spray it or dab it on the frame.
You could technically spray the backing of the frame if it’s waterproof and the oil will stick there.
For long-lasting residual protection, add a few drops of dish soap. This helps trape the oil on the backing and keeps it there so it doesn’t evaporate as quickly.
So you spray once and leave it alone for an extended period.
Plus, essential oils are natural and safer than using some thrip compound commercial spray in the house.
Seal up the edges of the picture
Sealing up the edges of the portrait can make it impenetrable for thrips, cardboard-eating pests, common indoor spiders, cellulose-loving booklice, and more.
You can use packing tape or invisible scotch tape to make a good seal around the entire backing of the frame.
Seal up that single gap that breaks apart to dismount the farmer from the glass and backing.
With tape people placed, there’s no way for bugs to get in. it’s that simple.
You can even use double-sided tape to catch any bugs that attempt to cross the barrier.
Keep thrips out of your home
Lastly, you’ll want to control and manage the base of the problem- getting rid of the thrips outside your home so they don’t come inside your home. It’s that easy.
There are a ton of natural home remedies you can utilize to repel and eradicate thunderbugs.
Start practicing some of them to keep them out for good.
Once you eliminate all the bugs outdoors, then they won’t come indoors, right?
Doing basic things like sealing up cracks, caulking entry points, replacing torn window screens, blocking door gaps, and even replacing weatherstripping that’s even damaged all help. It all starts here.
Keep your yard neat and tidy
Basic home and yard TLC will keep your entire property thrip free.
Unsurprisingly, thrips like a dirty garden that’s unkempt and will seek out food and shelter under leaf litter, plant matter, hiding places in plant containers, and host plants.
Keeping a yard filled up with clutter, debris, storage, or other junk just makes it more favorable to thrips.
When they get in your garden, they’ll start to migrate over to your home as well, so don’t underestimate the power of these guys- especially if you’re somewhere that rains constantly.
Doing basic yard upkeep helps reduce the frequency of thrip encounters:
- Mow your lawn on a schedule
- Empty plant containers after rains
- Remove clutter and junk
- Secure your trash bins
- Keep recycling bins clean
- Dispose of compost in secure bins
- Avoid wood storage or keep it out of reach from pests
- Prune your foliage
- Don’t overwater or overfertilize
- Remove leaf litter
- Clean water features like birdbaths, waterfalls, and fountains
- Keep pools bug free
- Remove pet food
- Get chickens to help eat bugs
- Keep drain ways clear
- Keep gutters clear
- Clean outdoor furnishings
How to store photo frames
Planning to put the frames away from an extended period of time?
Seal them up in airtight bags, then place them into a plastic container.
Avoid cardboard, because bugs can eat through it like cockroaches, silverfish, booklice, etc.
Use a hard and thick plastic and seal up the photo frame backings to prevent any pests from getting through. If you’re paranoid, consider using some natural pest repellents to keep bugs out of your photo storage- like roaches, wood borers and ants.
Preventing future thrips
If you have thrips coming back into your photos constantly, you can use sealer tape to seal up your frames for good.
This will stop them from getting into your photos.
Seal up around the frame’s backing and put a layer of double-sided sticky tape around the perimeter of the photo if you hang it on the wall.
The frame will cover the tape from view and any thrips that walk over it will get stuck.
Need more help? These additional references may be quite handy:
Did you save your photos from thrips?
You should have everything you need to know about getting the thrips out of your picture frames and never letting them get back inside.
Although they’re harmless and won’t damage your prints, they’re still an ugly thing to deal with when you’re trying to enjoy a trip down memory lane.
So get those buggers out!
If you have any questions, just post a comment and I’ll get back to you ASAP.
Or if you found this page somewhat useful, please let me know as well =].
Consider telling a buddy who may get some value out of it.
Thanks for reading!
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.