Author: Jan Scholten
Genera: 6,000 species.
Thysanoptera are minute, slender insects, mostly 1 mm long or less. They have fringed wings and unique asymmetrical mouthparts. They fly only weakly and their feathery wings are unsuitable for conventional flight; instead, thrips exploit an unusual mechanism, clap and fling, to create lift using an unsteady circulation pattern with transient vortices near the wings.
Many thrips species are pests of commercially important crops. A few species serve as vectors for over 20 viruses that cause plant disease, especially the Tospoviruses. Some species of thrips are beneficial as pollinators or as predators of other insects or mites. In the right conditions, such as in greenhouses, many species can exponentially increase in population size and form large swarms because of a lack of natural predators coupled with their ability to reproduce asexually, making them an irritation to humans. In addition, thrips may invade houses and infest objects such as furniture, bedding and computer monitors - in the latter case by forcing their way in between the LCD and its glass covering. Their identification to species by standard morphological characters is often challenging.
Thrips feed mostly on plants by puncturing and sucking up the contents. A few are predators.