Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Clickable Guide
Moths Butterflies Flies Caterpillars Flies Dragonflies Flies Mantids Cockroaches Bees and Wasps Walkingsticks Earwigs Ants Termites Hoppers and Kin Hoppers and Kin Beetles True Bugs Fleas Grasshoppers and Kin Ticks Spiders Scorpions Centipedes Millipedes

Calendar
Upcoming Events

Photos of insects and people from the 2015 gathering in Wisconsin, July 10-12

Photos of insects and people from the 2014 gathering in Virginia, June 4-7.

Photos of insects and people from the 2013 gathering in Arizona, July 25-28

Photos of insects and people from the 2012 gathering in Alabama

Photos of insects and people from the 2011 gathering in Iowa

Photos from the 2010 Workshop in Grinnell, Iowa

Photos from the 2009 gathering in Washington

TaxonomyBrowse
Info
ImagesLinksBooksData

Order Thysanoptera - Thrips

Thrips Two on potato stem Lateral view Aeolothrips petite - Frankliniella Thrips No idea Phlaeothripidae?
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Thysanoptera (Thrips)
Explanation of Names
Greek thysanos 'fringe' + pteron 'wing' (The wings of thrips are fringed with long hairs)
The word thrips is singular and plural; there is no such word as "thrip", so "I saw a thrips" is an example of correct usage. The word thrips comes from a Greek word meaning "wood louse" or woodworm (CSIRO).
Numbers
ca. 700 described spp. (and almost 200 undescribed) in ~140 genera of 5 families in our area(1), ~6,000 described species in almost 800 genera of 9 families worldwide, divided into two suborders: Tubulifera (with a single family, Phlaeothripidae) and Terebrantia; all the families but the monotypic Uzelothripidae are represented in our area(2)(3)
~240 spp. in CA(4), 275 in GA+FL(5)
Size
0.5-14 mm (typically 1-2 mm, NA species under 5 mm)(1)(6)
Identification
Some are wingless; where present, the wings are narrow with few or no veins and fringed with long hairs. Mouthparts asymmetrical (no right mandible), suitable for piercing and sucking. Antennae relatively short, 4- to 9-segmented; tarsi 1-2-segmented, with 1-2 claws and are bladder-like at the end.(6)
keys CA spp. in(7)
Range
Worldwide
Habitat
Plant-feeding thrips are generally found on soft living plant tissue, though some larval stages may be spent on soil. Fungivorous forms in leaf litter or on dead branches.(9)
Food
Almost half of the known species feed only on fungi; a considerable number feed only on green leaf tissues; a few are prey on other arthropods.(9) Plant-feeders often cause damage to leaves and flower petals.(10)
Life Cycle
The metamorphosis is intermediate between simple and complete. Eggs are laid in plant tissue (when the female has an ovipositor) or in crevices or under bark. In suborder Terebrantia, first two instars are larval stages followed by inactive third (prepupa) and fourth (pupa) stages. In suborder Tubulifera, the third and fourth stages comprise the prepupa stage while a fifth stage is the pupa stage. During prepupa and pupa stages, the immature thrips do not feed.(6)
Remarks
Thrips can often be found on flowers, they are especially visible on light colored flowers like daisies. Be aware that though they are very tiny, they can give a slightly painful bite.
Families not yet in the guide are all rather small(2):
Adiheterothripidae: worldwide, 6 spp. in 3 genera, with two monotypic genera (Oligothrips & Heratythrips) precinctive to w NA and one Old World genus
Fauriellidae: the monotypic Parrellathrips is endemic to CA; other genera in se. Africa and the Mediterranean (5 spp. in 4 genera worldwide)
Heterothripidae: New World family of ~70 spp. in 4 genera, of which ~20 spp. of Heterothrips occur in the US, and the rest are Neotropical (added 4/19/2015)
Melanthripidae: 12 spp. in 2 genera (Ankothrips & Melanthrips) in our area, all western; 60 spp. in 4 genera worldwide
Merothripidae: in our area, 4 spp. of the mostly Neotropical genus Merothrips (worldwide, 2 more genera, both monotypic, one Neotropical and one Palaeotropical)
Internet References