Thrips (Order Thysanoptera) are tiny, slender insects with fringed wings (thus the scientific name, from the Greek thysanos (fringe) + pteron (wing) (Tipping 2008)). Other common names for thrips include thunderflies, thunderbugs, storm flies, thunderblights, and corn lice. Thrips species feed on a large variety of sources, both plant and animal, by puncturing them and sucking up the contents. A large number of thrips species are considered pests, because they feed on plants with commercial value. Some species of thrips feed on other insects or mites and are considered beneficial, while some feed on fungal spores or pollen. So far around 5,000 species have been described. Thrips are generally tiny (1 mm long or less) and are not good flyers, although they can be carried long distances by the wind. In the right conditions, many species can exponentially increase in population size and form large swarms, making them an irritation to humans.
Like the words sheep, deer or moose, the word thrips is used for both the singular and plural forms. So while there may be many thrips there can also be a single thrips. The word thrips is from the Greek, meaning wood louse (Kirk 1996).
- Kirk, W. D. J. (1996). Thrips: Naturalists' Handbooks 25. The Richmond Publishing Company.
- Tipping, C. (2008). Thrips (Thysanoptera). Pages 3769-3771 in Encyclopedia of Entomology, John L. Capinera, ed. Springer, New York
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