Common name(s): These insects go by the delightful common name of "thrips". Just say that a few times, your mouth will love you.
Description: The insect's bodies are small (most between 0.5mm and 15mm) and slender. The hypognathous mouthparts consist of three stylets - the maxillary laciniae plus the left mandible. The order included species with or without wings. In the species where wings are present, the wings are subequal, strap-like, with a long fringe. The immature (nymph) stages resemble small adults.
Fun facts: Thysanoptera is a worldwide order, of around 5000 species in two suborders: Terebrantia, with seven families (including speciose Thripidae, and Tubulifera, with one family (speciose Phlaeothripidae). Development is intermediate between hemi- and holometabolous. Antennae are 4-9 segmented and directed anteriorly. Compound eyes range from small to large, and there are three ocelli in the winged varieties.
The legs are short and gressorial (adapted for walking), sometimes with the forelegs raptorial and the hindlegs saltatory. Tarsi are 1-2 segmented and the pretarsus has an apical protrusible adhesive arolium (bladder or vesicle). The abdomen is 11-segmented, although only 10 segments can be seen. In males, the genitalia are concealed and symmetrical. In females, the cerci are absent; the ovipositor is serrate in Terebrantia, and very reduced in Tubulifera. Eggs are laid in plant tissue. Some species exhibit subsocial behaviour, like parental care.
It is thought that primitive thrips fed on fungus, and some species that live in litter still eat fungi. However, most thrips are phytophages. The mouthparts pierce a plant stalk and the contents are sucked out one cell at a time.
Mouthparts expanded: The mouthparts comprise the maxillary laciniae formed as grooved stylets, with the right mandible atrophied and the left mandible formed as a further stylet; the maxillary stylets form a feeding tube. It is a characteristic in most higher insects to have highly specialized mouthparts, with some parts reduced while others are enhanced and modified.
Thysanoptera and Hemiptera are sister groups, with the 'lice' (Psocoptera, Mallophaga and Anoplura) united as a sister group to Thysanoptera and Hemiptera
sourced, in part, by The Insects: An outline of entomology, second ed. Gullan, P.J. and P.S. Cranston. Blackwell Science, Great Britain, 2000.