FLORIDA TICKS & MITES
A source for information on ticks
Thrips Order Thysanoptera
Also known as thunderbugs, thunderflies and corn lice, thrips are small insects.
Some thrips have fringed wings; in fact, the name of the Order Thysanoptera, is derived from the Greek words for
fringe (thysanos) and wing (pteron). More than 5,000 species of thrips have been identified. Thrips vary in size,
though most measure approximately one millimeter in length.
Thrips use their maxillary stylets to puncture the outer layer of plants or the
skin of animals, from which they extract sap, blood or other fluids. After feeding on plants, thrips leave visible
signs of damage such as deformities and blackening of the skin. Thrips may also lay their eggs on fruits and crops,
resulting in small discolorations surrounded by white haloes.
Flower thrips cause equal damage to ornamental crops. These thrips are yellow,
orange or amber in color. In addition to marring the appearance of flowers, these thrips can spread a number of
diseases, such as the tomato spotted wilt virus and the necrotic spot virus. Flower thrips typically grow in
population during spring.
Because their feeding habits destroy a number of commercial
crops, thrips are considered especially problematic in agricultural communities. They are known to proliferate
quickly and swarm heavily in areas with crops. Thrips do invade homes and some species have been known to bite
humans. If thrips populations are not controlled, affected flowering plants may lose their ability to
Tiny insect; only one to five millimeters in length.
Varies, depending on species. Most are dark with whitish or translucent wings that are long, thin and
fringed with long hairs.
Thrips primarily feed on plants, although some species are predaceous or feed on fungal spores. These
insects are usually seen in buildings only when the populations on landscape plants grow large. Thrips may be
attracted to buildings by the heat or coolness given off or by other factors. Once on a building, their tiny
size gives them easy access inside -- insect screens pose no barrier to them. These insects are important
because they will bite people even though they do not feed on blood like mosquitoes and mites. It is unknown
why they bite when they land on exposed skin, but the resulting bite can produce a stinging sensation and be
quite painful. Often, bites occur to people sitting or working outdoors near plants which harbor the thrips.
They may fly onto a patio or deck, then land on a person and bite. As a result, they have been known to disrupt
dining experiences on restaurant patios.
Shrubs and other landscape plantings attract thrips to and around buildings.
Once thrips are identified as the culprit, the plantings they infest will require treatment. Such
treatment is completed by a tree and shrub company, such as TruGreen. Pest control companies do not typically
carry the necessary licenses to treat plant pests, but some pest control companies will be licensed and offer
such services. It is recommended to consult a professional for advice.