Insects of Britain and Ireland: orders

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz



Adult insects. Predatory (sometimes, e.g. on small insects and mites), or phytophagous, or imbibing nectar, or saprophagous, or consuming stored produce, or mycophagous. Minute to small (never exceeding 12 mm); capable of flight, or flightless; when winged, with two pairs of propellant wings. Body dorsiventrally flattened. Head hypognathous, or opisthognathous. Mouthparts well developed; adapted for both biting and sucking (or rasping and sucking); piercing; highly modified (the mouthparts in the form of a ventral cone, with the piercing/chewing/rasping elements comprising paired maxillary stylets and a single functional (left) mandible). Antennae conspicuous to inconspicuous; simple; 4–9 segmented. Ocelli 3 (winged forms), or 0 (apterous forms). Wings when present, four; of similar texture in both pairs. Fore-wings membranous. Hind-wings smaller than the fore-wings to larger than the fore-wings; no broader than the fore-wings; not folded in the resting insect. Wings with few cross-veins (the venation much reduced); conspicuously long fringed. Wings of the resting insect closed and directed backwards (not folding). Tarsi 1 segmented, or 2 segmented (clawless, but with the distal segment bearing an eversible bladder facilitating adhesion to varied surfaces, which readily distinguishes adult thrips from all other insects). Abdomen conspicuously appendaged at the rear, or not conspicuously appendaged; exhibiting a conspicuous ovipositor, or not spectacularly appendaged; lacking clearly visible cerci. Abdomen of females with an exserted ovipositor (sometimes, or the terminal segment drawn out into a tube), or with no exserted ovipositor. Abdomen apparently 10 segmented (10 conical or drawn out into a tube).

Larvae. Larvae with three pairs of segmented thoracic legs; without ventral abdominal prolegs. Development of larva into adult gradual; exopterygote; not involving a pupal stage (but with two or three pre-imaginal resting stages).

Classification. Subclass Pterygota; Division Exopterygota.

British representation. Aelothripidae, Thripidae, Phlaeothripidae; genera about 50; about 165 species.

General comments. Small, slender insects. Some are associated with flowers, a few form galls, others are saprophagous or mycophilous in debris, a few are predatory on smaller animals.

Illustrations. • Baliothrips dispar: B. Ent. 748. • Baliothrips dispar: B. Ent. 748, legend+text. • Baliothrips dispar: B. Ent. 748, text cont.. • Limothrips cerealium (Shipley 1893). Limothrips cerealium. • Thrips, adult and larva (Lubbock 1890). adult. larva.

To view the illustrations with detailed captions, go to the interactive key. This also offers full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting or lacking specified attributes, and distributions of character states within any set of taxa.

Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2003 onwards. Insects of Britain and Ireland: orders. Version: 16th May 2016.’.