The common name "thrips" refers to a single insect or many individuals. It comes from Latin and Greek words that mean "woodworm," a reference to the fact that many species live on dead branches. Thrips are long, slender, flat insects measuring 0.02 to 0.6 inches (0.5 to 15 millimeters) in length. Depending on the species, males are either larger or smaller than females. They are usually black in color, but many species range from whitish to yellow. Other species are black, red, and white. Both adult and larval thrips are unique among insects in that they have only the left jaw in their head. The body absorbs the right jaw while the thrips is still developing in the egg. The remaining left and right mouthparts form a sucking tube with a single channel inside. Both food and saliva flow through this channel. The compound eyes are well developed, but may have as few as ten lenses in some wingless species. Winged species have three simple eyes located between the compound eyes, but they are absent in thrips that are wingless as adults. The antennae (an-TEH-nee), or sense organs, are short and have four to nine segments.
Winged adults have four slender wings that lie side by side flat over the back when at rest. The wings have few, if any, veins and are fringed with long, hairlike structures. Their legs are all similar to one another in appearance. The feet have one or two segments and lack claws. Instead each foot has a sticky, inflatable, pouchlike sac. In some species, the ten-segmented abdomen is tipped with an ovipositor, or egg-laying tube.
phylum class subclass • order monotypic order suborder family
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