Chilli thrips attacks all the above ground parts of its host plants. It prefers young leaves, buds and fruits. Thrips feed by roughly rubbing (rasping) emerging and new plant parts. The rasping breaks plant tissue that oozes sap on which the insect feeds. Feeding may cause leaves to curl upward and become distorted appearing much like herbicide damage. Feeding also causes leaf, bud, and fruit tissue to turn bronze in color. Newer leaves are often shiny and older ones are frequently scarred from rasping. Infested plants become stunted and severe infestations can result in total defoliation of the host. The symptoms may be confused for a fungal disease. This was particularly true with plumbago before chilli thrips was identified as the culprit responsible for blackened leaves and leafless stems. Despite severe damage on its many hosts, it can be a challenge to collect more than a handful of chilli thrips even from many infested plants.