Order Thysanoptera (Thrips) in the Christopher B. Smith Preserve

Order Thysanoptera Characteristics: Thrips are slender, cigar-shaped, tiny insects. Most are 1 mm long or less. Adults have fringed wings. The order name, "Thysanoptera," is derived from the Greek word "Thysanos," meaning "fringe," and "pteron," meaning "wing." The common name, "thrips," is Greek for "wood louse;" the word refers to one or more of these insects.

Thrips feed on both plants and animals by puncturing tissue and sucking juices. Many thrips species are considered pests because they feed on plants having commercial value. Other thrips are considered beneficial because they eat the fluids of harmful insects and mites. Still others feed on fungal spores or pollen. All thrips have asymmetrical mouthparts, with the right mandible reduced in size and the left mandible larger and formed into a narrow stylet for piercing plant or animal tissue.

There are 5,000 described thrips species. Most are plant feeders, preferring pollen and plant materials harvested from the outer layer of plant tissue. In the process of feeding, some flower-feeding thrips pollinate flowers, but they also damage plants. Thrips probably communicate with chemical secretions. Chemicals may also serve as predator deterrents. Some thrips form colonies with reproductive queens and nonreproductive soldier castes, somewhat like ant colonies. Many thrips form galls on plants when they feed and lay eggs.

Thrips have metamorphosis that is intermediate between gradual and complete metamorphosis. An egg hatches, followed by two wingless nymph instars. Next a prepupal stage lasts about one day. This is followed by at least one, and in some species two pupal stages. During the pupal stage(s) wing-buds and reproductive structures develop. The final stage is the adult. In some species, male thrips develop from unfertilized eggs and females develop from fertilized eggs. In other species, females develop from unfertilized eggs and males from fertilized eggs. It is also possible that bacteria living within thrips cells determine the sex of an individual.

Interactions in the Smith Preserve: Thrips limit populations of some organisms and provide food for others. More than 20 plant viruses are transmitted by thrips. A few tiny wasps parasitize thrips eggs and nymphs, while aphid wasps, minute flower bugs, and mites prey on nymphs and adults.

 
Family
Species Name
Common Name
Aeolothripidae
Unknown
Phlaeothripidae
Gynaikothrips ficorum
Phlaeothripidae
Unknown
Phlaeothripidae
Unknown
Phlaeothripidae
Unknown
Phlaeothripidae
Unknown
Thripidae
Selenothrips rubrocinctus
Thripidae
Unknown
Thripidae
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown

 

 

Family Aeolothripidae

Unknown Species ... Predatory Thrips

This 1.5 mm adult thrips was caught in a sweep net used in low, dry vegetation that was growing along the eastern gopher tortoise fence in the Smith Preserve.

These photographs, showing the dorsal, ventral, and lateral views of the thrips, were created using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On August 24, 2016, this individual was identified as a member of Family Aeolothripidae by John Schneider, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>. Species in this family are called "predatory thrips."

According to <BugGuide.net> there are 44 species in 5 genera in this family in our area and almost 200 species in 23 genera world wide. Both adults and larvae feed on flower tissues and thrips and mites that live in flowers. Most species are beneficial.

 

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Family Phlaeothripidae

Gynaikothips ficorum ... Cuban Laurel Thrips

Thrips are tiny, slender, cigar-shaped insects with fringed wings. The Order name, Thysanoptera, is derived from the Greek words "thysanos" meaning "fringe" and "pteron" meaning "wing. "Thrips" is both the singular and plural form of the word, so there can be many thrips or a single thrips.

Thrips feed on a variety of plants and animals by puncturing the host with their rasping mouthparts and sucking up the fluids. The 2- mm long thrips shown here were located inside folded leaves of a Ficus aurea (Strangler Fig) tree. Also inside these leaves were other tiny arthropods including Entomobrya sp. (Elongate-Bodied Springtails) and bristly millipedes. It is thought that the thrips were sucking nutrients from the leaves, causing leaf distortion.

Five thousand species of thrips have been described. Thrips that are capable of flight, like this particular species, have two similar, strap-like pairs of wings with a ciliated fringe. Thrips legs usually end with two tarsal segments and a bladder-like structure that can be everted to allow the insect to walk on vertical surfaces.

Characteristics of this particular species include red eyes, a bulging pronotum, and pale yellow tarsal segments and antennae. The rest of the insect is black.

This species is thought to be Gynaikothrips ficorum. (Cuban Laurel Thrips). Adult thrips use their rasping-sucking mouthparts to feed on tender, green fig leaves. Their feeding creates sunken purplish red spots, as shown in the first photograph. Feeding by immature thrips cause tight curling of the leaf, which gradually turns yellow, then brown.

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Family Phlaeothripidae

Unknown Species ... Tube-Tailed Thrips

Phlaeothripidae is a family of thrips with 3,500 known genera worldwide. They are a very diverse group. Some feed on fungal spores, others on leaves, causing the production of galls by the host plants. Others live on flowers and mosses. Some are predators of mites and coccids. A few are pollinators.

Antennae are 8-segmented, with reduction to 5 segments in a few species. The last abdominal segment (segment X) is tubular with the anus at the apex and the genital opening at the base.

On December 19, 2014, the 2.5 mm thrips shown here was isolated from a leaf litter sample collected under a citrus tree in the northeast hammock at the Smith Preserve, using a Berlese funnel. These photographs were produced using photomicroscopy.

Although this individual appears to have the tubular segment described for members of Family Phlaeothripidae, it has 7-segmented antennae, not 8-segmented, as can be seen in the 3rd photograph.

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Family Phlaeothripidae

Unknown Species ... Tube-Tailed Thrips

On December 19, 2014, this 1 mm long thrips and several others like it were living in leaf litter under a citrus tree in the northeast corner of the Smith Preserve. Unlike others shown on this web page, this species had a dark head, prothorax (first segment of the thorax), coxa and femur on the first pair of legs, and tip of its antennae.

This thrips is presumed to be a member of Family Phlaeothripidae because the last abdominal segment (segment X) is tubular with the anus at the apex and the genital opening at the base.

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Family Phlaeothripidae

Unknown Species ... Tube-Tailed Thrips

On December 30, 2015, this 1 mm long thrips was captured in a sweep net used in dry brush, growing along the eastern gopher tortoise fence south of Smith Preserve Way.

These photographs were created using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology. The species is yet to be identified.

The family is thought to be Phlaeothripidae because this individual has a tube-tail, however most members of this family have 8-segmented antennae. This individual has fewer antennal segments.

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Family Phlaeothripidae

Unknown Species ... Tube-Tailed Thrips

On December 13, 2016, this 2.4 mm long adult thrips was captured in a yellow bowl trap that had been left overnight in a sandy area of Smith Preserve near 14th Ave. N and a private residence.

These three photographs (dorsal, ventral, and lateral) were created using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

As yet, the family and other specifics about this specimen have not been identified by any <BugGuide.net> scientists. However, the fact that this specimen has a tube-shaped tail indicates that it is a member of Family Phlaeothripidae. Most members of this family are mostly dark brown or black, often with light-colored or mottled wings. By far this is the largest thrips family.

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Family Thripidae

Selenothrips rubrocinctus ... Redbanded Thrips

Selenothrips rubricinctus is tropical to subtropical, and thought to have originated in northern South America. A redbanded thrips female is about 1.2 mm in length; males are smaller. Both sexes have dark brown to black bodies and dark wings. The first three abdominal segments have red pigment. The anal segment is reddish black.

The life cycle of these thrips is completed in about three weeks and there can be several generations in a year. A generation begins when a female inserts eggs into the lower surface of leaves and covers them with a drop of liquid that dries to form a black, disc-like, protective cover. Over her adult life of about one month, she lays up to 50 eggs. Eggs hatch within four days.

After the eggs hatch, there are two nymphal stages that last nine to ten days. The second stage nymph is about 1 mm long. Following the nymphal stages there are a pre-pupal and pupal stage. These stages last three to five days. Nymphal and pupal stages are light yellow to orange with red bands on the first three and the last abdominal segments. Following the pupal stage, the adult emerges.

The photograph on this page shows a nymph, thought to be that of Selenothrips rubricinctus. It is about 1 mm long and has red bands on abdominal segments as described above; however in addition, it has a dark red band around the head and the 1st thoracic segment. In researching Selenothrips rubricinctus, the designer of this web page has found no reference describing this additional band. It is possible that this individual is not Selenothrips rubricinctus, but instead, a different redbanded thrips. This photograph shows the thrips eating a pollen grain of Richardia scrabra (Rough Mexican Clover).

Selenothrips rubricinctus is a pest of many plants, including tropical fruit trees, ornamentals, and shade trees. In the West Indies, it has caused serious damage to cacao and mango trees. These thrips prefer young foliage. Their feeding behavior destroys plant cells. Damage done to infested plants result in silvering of leaves, leaf distortion, leaf drop, and injury to fruit. Because thrips excrete honeydew, black sooty mold is found in association with large infestations of thrips. This mold degrades the fruit.

Predators of redbanded thrips include spiders, mites, lacewings, predatory thrips, and predatory bugs.

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Family Thripidae

Unknown Species ... Unknown Common Name

On December 13, 2016, this 1 mm long adult thrips was captured in a pitfall trap placed in sand and dry grass in the Smith Preserve near 14th Ave N and a private residence.

These photographs were created by photomicroscopy and submitted for identification to <BugGuide.net>. On December 31, 2016, the family was identified by John S. Ascher, a Contributing Editor of <BugGuide.net>. He identified the subfamily as Thripinae.

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Family Thripidae

Unknown Species ... Unknown Common Name

On January 23, 2017, this ~1.75 mm long thrips was living in leaf litter under a Psychotria nervosa (Shinyleaf Wild Coffee) bush and a Quercus laurifolia (Laurel Oak) tree in the eastern part of the Smith Preserve, south of the Smith Preserve Pond.

The thrips was isolated from the litter using a Berlese funnel. These photographs were created using photomicroscopy. The first two photographs are dorsal views using two different background colors to emphasize different details in the specimen. The third image is a ventral view.

The photographs were sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

Of note is that this thrips is very flattened dorsoventrally.

On July 9, 2017, John S. Ascher, a Contributing Editor to <BugGuide.net> identified the Family as Thripidae and the Subfamily as Thripinae.

Family Thripidae is the second largest thrips family with 260 species in 50 genera in our area and more than 2000 species in ~230 genera worldwide.

Most pest thrips are in Subfamily Thripinae.

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Unknown Family

Unknown Species ... Unknown Common Name

On December 19, 2014, 20 thrips similar to this 1 mm long individual were found in the same leaf litter collection as the thrips that is described above.

The leaf litter was collected beneath a citrus tree in a cabbage palm / oak hammock in the northeast corner of the Smith Preserve. The thrips were isolated from the sample using a Berlese funnel. Photographs were produced using photomicroscopy.

Although this thrips looks very different from the one above, it may be the same species in a more juvenile state. However, if it has a tubular last abdominal segment, it is not apparent in these photographs. More research is needed.

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Unknown Family

Unknown Species ... Unknown Common Name

On December 19, 2014, several thrips similar to this .75 mm long individual were found in leaf litter collected under the same citrus tree in the northeast hammock of the Smith Preserve as the thrips that are described above. Unlike others discussed earlier, this species is flattened and has many more long bristles. This appears to be an immature nymph.

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Unknown Family

Unknown Species ... Unknown Common Name

On November 17, 2015, a .75 mm long thrips was captured in a pitfall trap placed under a Quercus laurifolia (Laurel Oak) just north of Smith Preserve Way in the Smith Preserve.

Photographs, created using photomicroscopy, were submitted to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology, for identification.

 

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Unknown Family

Unknown Species ... Unknown Common Name

This 1.5 mm long thrips was living in pine needle litter collected beneath a group of Pinus elliotti densa (Southern Florida Slash Pine) trees in the southeastern region of the Smith Preserve.

It was removed from the litter using a Berlese funnel. Then, these photographs were created using photomicroscopy and sent to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology, for identification.

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Unknown Family

Unknown Species ... Unknown Common Name

 

 

This 1.75 mm long yellow thrips was living in the same pine needle litter collected beneath a group of Pinus elliotti densa (Southern Florida Slash Pine) trees in the southeastern region of the Smith Preserve as the thrips above.

It too was removed from the litter using a Berlese funnel. Then, this photograph was created using photomicroscopy and sent to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology, for identification.

 

 

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Unknown Family

Unknown Species ... Unknown Common Name

On April 15, 2015, the 1.5 mm adult thrips shown above in dorsal and ventral views was living inside a petal of a Vigna luteola (Hairy Cowpea) flower with a larval beetle and a mite.

The thrips was removed, placed in alcohol, and these photographs were created using photomicroscopy.

The photographs have been submitted to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University Department of Entomology, for identification. As yet, the family and other specifics about this specimen have not been identified by any <BugGuide.net> scientist.

The webmaster of this website thinks this individual is an adult common blossom thrips, Frankliniella schultzei. This determination is based on its resemblance to a photograph that appears on the University of Florida IFAS Extension web page titled, "Common blossom thrips, Frankliniella schultzei Trybom (Insecta: Thysanoptera: Thripidae) by Garima Kakkar, Daksina R. Seal, and Vivek Kumar Jha. This identification needs verification by and expert.

The common blossom thrips has wide distribution in tropical and subtropical areas of the world and is a relatively new vegetable pest in South Florida.

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Unknown Family

Unknown Species ... Unknown Common Name

On December 13, 2016, this 1.2 mm long thrips, and 23 others like it, was captured in a yellow bowl that had been left overnight in a sandy area of the Smith Preserve near 14th Ave. N and a private residence.

 

These three photographs (two showing lateral views and one showing the ventral view) were created using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

As yet, the family and other specifics about this specimen have not been identified by any <BugGuide.net> scientists.

As is indicated by its fully developed wings, this thrips is an adult.

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Unknown Family

Unknown Species ... Unknown Common Name

On March 11, 2015, this ~1.25 mm thrips was living in leaf litter beneath a Ceratiola ericoides (Florida Rosemary) bush in the middle of the Smith Preserve.

The specimen was isolated from the litter with a Berlese funnel. Images of its ventral side and an enlargement of the ventral side of its head were created using photomicroscopy. The images were sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology. Identification has not been completed.

As can be seen in these images, the specimen is generally pale, but it has brown antennal segments and light brown markings along the margins of some thoracic and abdominal segments. The frontal area of the head is bicolored with a brown upper portion and a white bottom portion.

 

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Unknown Family

Unknown Species ... Unknown Common Name

On January 3, 2017, this ~1.2 mm long adult thrips (note the wings) was living in leaf litter collected on top of a Serenoa repens (Saw Palmetto) trunk in the northeast quadrant of the Smith Preserve, just North of Smith Preserve Way. There were 19 other thrips collected in the same leaf litter sample.

This individual was removed from the leaf litter with a Berlese funnel. These three images (Image 1: Dorsal, Image 2: Ventral, Image 3: Lateral) were created using photomicroscopy. The images were sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

Note: this specimen has very vibrant red eyes.

The scientific family name and other details of this species have yet to be identified.

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© Photographs and text by Susan Leach Snyder (Conservancy of Southwest Florida Volunteer), unless otherwise credited above.

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