Thrips: Macro Photographs

Thrips photos for you, if you wish.
Here are a few photos I took of some thrips. The second photo shows a thrips between two butterfly (Blue morpho) eggs. The forth photo shows a thrips beside a dead white fly (plant pest). The fifth photo (71614639) shows a thrips beside, I think, a dead fruit fly. You may add them, if you wish, into your thrips ID catalog.
RS

Dear RS,
Though you did not indicate your location, because of the tropical Morpho eggs, we are guessing that you are associated with one of the numerous butterfly exhibits that have sprung up across the country. Here is Los Angeles, our yearly summer butterfly exhibit at the Museum of Natural History is called the “Pavilion of Wings”. Your Macro Photographs are wonderful. We are posting some that show both side view and top view as well as the leaf photograph that shows the scale of these miniscule insects that range from 1/2 to 3 millimeters in length. Some Thrips are winged and others not. Some Thrips are plant pests and others are predators. According to the Audubon Guide, there are over 600 species in North America.

Hello whatsthatbug,
Thanks for the reply. Sorry about the incomplete information. Your guess about an association with a butterfly exhibit is correct. I am a very frequent visitor to the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory and Gardens in South Deerfield, Massachusetts, up here in New England; and open 364 days of the year.

Letter 1 – Possibly Thrips

 

Subject:  Beetle identification
Geographic location of the bug:  Northwest Arkansas
Date: 06/11/2019
Time: 06:04 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found this drawing in my skin after feeling a sting.
I think it came from the yard or garden. It’s very small. Maybe 2mm. Smaller or similar size as an ant.
How you want your letter signed:  Allergic to everything

Thrips, possibly

Dear Allergic to everything,
Because of its small size and general shape, we believe this might be a Thrips.  Here is an image from BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “Thrips can often be found on flowers, they are especially visible on light colored flowers like daisies. Be aware that though they are very tiny, they can give a slightly painful bite.”

Letter 2 – probably more Thrips

 

What kind of bugs are these?
Hello bugman,
We have a serious bug problem going on right now…we are a screen printing/graphics company and have these little yellow / gold bugs that are eating us alive. Could you please tell us what kind of bugs these are, what are they attracted to and what can we do to get rid of them????
Thank you and have a great day!
Stephanie Crawley

Hi Stephanie,
We can’t tell much by your photo, but based on another letter with some awesome photomicroscopy images, we suspect these might be Thrips. Normally they are plant pests, but perhaps they are capable of biting skin as well.

Letter 1 – Thrips

 

Subject: Need Bug Identification.
Location: SouthernCalifornia
April 30, 2016 1:50 pm
Hello, My name is cameron from Southern California. I keep finding these tiny bugs in my backyard that seem to bite sometimes. This is how im able to find these small insects. Otherwise I would not have know they are in my backyard. I usually find them on my arms after watering plants. And sometimes on my shirt if i look closely. I took some macro shots and some videos using the same camera. They seem to jump like fleas, but not quite as far. They also seem to have very small wings with a worm like tail. Attached are some photos of the insect. It is extremely small, i would say it might be the same or a little smaller then a flea. Thanks very much.
Signature: Cameron F.

Thrips
Thrips

Dear Cameron,
This is a Thrips in the order Thysanoptera.  Interestingly Thrips is both a singular or plural for the insect.  You can read more about Thrips on BugGuide where it states:  “Some are wingless; where present, the wings are narrow with few or no veins and fringed with long hairs. Mouthparts asymmetrical (no right mandible), suitable for piercing and sucking”
and “Thrips can often be found on flowers, they are especially visible on light colored flowers like daisies. Be aware that though they are very tiny, they can give a slightly painful bite.”

Thank you very much. Should spraying and 4,500 ladybugs fix this problem? I understand how to place the lady bugs to be most effective. Thank you very much!!

We do not provide extermination advice.

Letter 2 – Thrips

 

Subject: WTB?!
Location: Denver area (larva); east of Phoenix (Thrips & E. acutangulus)
December 12, 2016 10:37 pm
Hello,
I’m trying to positively identify three insects so their Genus species can be part of the file name which will have the Genus species of the flowering plant, too. (You’ll see.)
I’ll include all three images and note that I’m pretty sure I’ve tracked down the fruit fly name, Euarestoides acutangulus, though if you think otherwise, I’m all ears. Or, at least, eyes.
The (I think sawfly) larva is on a pincushion cactus blossom and might be two inches long? This is mid-May along the southern edge of the Denver area (Highland Ranch).
The Thrips is on a Mexican gold poppy, while the fruit fly is on a desert chicory. Both were shot in mid-March, east of Phoenix at about 2,100 feet elevation.
I appreciate your even taking the time to consider these.
Best,
Signature: Mark Bennett

Eschscholzia mexicana Aeolothrips sp. banded thrips Mexican gold poppy
Eschscholzia mexicana
Aeolothrips sp. banded thrips
Mexican gold poppy

Hi Mark,
Thanks for sending the higher resolution files.  We are attaching our cropped version for you to approve.  Based on BugGuide images, we agree that your predatory Thrips is likely in the genus
Aeolothrips.

Letter 3 – Thrips from Thailand

 

Subject: Tint Thai bug
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
November 21, 2015 7:06 pm
Hello! Thanks for your This very small creature just landed on me in Bangkok, Thailand in late November sitting 18 floors above a river.
It has a very long abdomen but no wings, appears to have 6 legs, the front pair look raptorial, it’s head and thorax are strange shapes, small antennas
I can’t seem to find any other images of it online. Do you all have any idea?
Image 1 is an extreme close up, image 2 shows it in reference next to a citruis peel, waving at you, and image 3 is pulled back so you can see just how small it is in size reference on my breakfast plate, in the center 🙂
Thanks so much for your work!
Signature: Kristen

Possibly Thrips
Possibly Thrips

Dear Kristen,
We are not certain exactly what you observed, but we want to commend you on providing both a close-up view and a nice image showing the scale of this tiny insect.  We believe it may be a species of Thrips based on images of North American species from the order Thysanoptera posted to BugGuide where they are described as:  “Some are wingless; where present, the wings are narrow with few or no veins and fringed with long hairs. Mouthparts asymmetrical (no right mandible), suitable for piercing and sucking. Antennae relatively short, 4- to 9-segmented; tarsi 1-2-segmented, with 1-2 claws and are bladder-like at the end.”  Since we are not certain, we will contact Eric Eaton for confirmation.

Possibly Thrips
Possibly Thrips

Daniel:
Definitely a thrips.  What a weirdo!
Eric
author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America
http://bugeric.blogspot.com/

Letter 4 – Thrips, we believe

 

Insect identification
Location: Southern Ca
May 14, 2011 1:24 pm
These little bugs walk/crawl but they also jump. Naked eye they look dark and can see two little antenna at the head. Sorry the pix are not as lit up as I would have liked. I live in the high desert of San Bernardino County in Southern Ca. I planted a Marijuana plant in my back yard with Promix potting soiless mix. These little critters are swarming around the mix. I put some dish liquid soap in with my nutrient solution when watering and it seemed to knock them down a lot but not gone. I have found them inside my home as well (this morning there were approx 7 of them in my bathroom sink). Can you tell me what they are and if they are harmful to Marijuna plants? And what is the best defense if they are? Thanks Bugman!!
Signature: Outlaw

Thrips, possibly

Dear Outlaw,
We believe you have Thrips.  Despite your awesome photomicroscopy, we still find the anatomy of this critter a bit confusing and we do not have the necessary experience to identify this insect with certainty, however, we feel that based on the information we do have, that Thrips seems like the likeliest candidate.  Perhaps someone more knowledgeable will be able to provide a definitive identification.  Here is a link to the Thrips order Thysanoptera on BugGuide.  BugGuide notes:  “The word thrips is singular and plural; there is no such word as “thrip” (in other words, “I saw a thrips” is an example of correct usage). The word thrips itself is said to be from a Greek word, meaning “wood louse” or woodworm, referring to their abundance in dead branches, where they feed on fungus.”  BugGuide offers this assistance with identification:  “Thrips are tiny insects, only a few mm in length at most. Thrips may or may not have wings. When wings are present, they are narrow with few or no veins and fringed with long hairs. Thrips have asymmetrical mouthparts (no right mandible) suitable for piercing and sucking. Antennae of thrips have four to nine segments and are relatively short. Tarsi of thrips have one or two segments with one or two claws and are bladder-like at the end.”

Letter 5 – Thrips

 

Subject: Help identify this bug
Location: Sacramento
May 2, 2016 8:38 pm
Hello,
I originally thought I had bed bugs due; can’t remember why. I’m pretty sure they came from this terrible library checkout. They were inside !
So I don’t know if they are thrips or not.
Signature: A

Thrips
Thrips

Dear A,
We agree that these look like Thrips.  They are outdoor insects and we don’t know why you are being bothered in bed.

Thrips:  Enlarged and Enhanced
Thrips: Enlarged and Enhanced

Letter 6 – Thrips

 

Need Identification
I need help trying to identify the bug in the attached pictures. I work as a technician at an electronics company. For my 10 minute breaks, I enjoy sitting outside and getting some fresh air. It seems like every spring, these tiny little bugs come out. I’ve noticed that they fly in swarms like gnats. Every time I walk back to my desk, I notice these tiny little creatures all over my shirt, arms, and in my hair. I’m not sure if they are biting me or if it’s the legs walking on me, but they are very itchy. It doesn’t seem as if their "bite" leaves a mark or bump. The pictures were taken with a microscope at 160X power. Any help to try and identify these bugs and why they like me so much would be appreciated.
Thanks,
Allan
Jasper, IN

Hi Allan,
This is some species of Thrips in the order Thysanoptera. Accordint to the Audubon Guide, there are over 4700 species in the world. The order name refers to the distinctive fringe of long hair on the wings. They have piercing and rasping mouthparts that enable them to saw through plant tissue and suck juices. Most species are pests on plants. This makes a new order and page for our site. Thanks for the contribution.

Letter 7 – Moth and (not pictured) Springtails

 

Subject: Beetles?
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
June 24, 2017 3:01 am
Hello. I think these might be some type of flea or water beetles. They jumped out of our bathtub drain in Phoenix, Arizona. These 2 were the largest. Some were so small they looked like flecks of pepper. They jump & bite hard! They also seem to be able to swim.
Signature: Fed Up in AZ

Moth

Dear Fed Up in AZ,
We are going to contact Eric Eaton to get his opinion on this, but we believe these are Thrips in the order Thysanoptera, but we don’t know what they are doing in your bathtub drain.  These are not Beetles.  You can see images of Thrips on BugGuide, including this image and this image.

Moth

Eric Eaton Responds
Daniel:
Ok, two different organisms at play here.  The images are of a small moth, maybe Tineidae for family.  The other creatures she describes are springtails, order Collembola.  They do not bite, though, so maybe yet another insect is to blame, like fleas or something.
Eric
author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America
http://bugeric.blogspot.com/

Ed. Note:  There are no Springtails visible in this image.  While we thought the jumping and the drain indicated possible Springtails, the pictured Moth is most definitely NOT a Springtail.  Since Springtails do not bite, we were additionally puzzled.

Moth

Interesting!  Thanks. We had mold growing beneath the bathtub and in the walls surrounding the separate shower and in the carpeted areas also. The bugs also came up through cracks in the cement and cracks in the grout of the floor tiles all throughout the house ( likely from a slab leak beneath the home. )
The county extension office identified them as a mix of Beetles and Springtails, yet they didn’t specify any types of beetles or springtails. They did say none of them would be biting people and they were drawn indoors because of the mold.
We were renting and we moved, but whatever they are they must’ve gotten into our belongings because we still live with them. Not as bad,mind you! But they’re still very much present indoors and still biting and making our lives miserable. On the rare occasion we do manage to smash one of the bigger ones mid bite, it’s always plainly full of bright red blood. I just don’t understand it and I’m so sick of it. The tiny ones seem to bore into furniture and even tile and cement! How???
Thank you again

Letter 8 – Thrips, we presume

 

Rose insect ID?
Location:  San Jose, California
April 28, 2014
Hi Daniel,
Any idea what these are?  Earwig hatchling?
The things are miniscule — on a rose in San Jose California this morning — not sure if the two photos are of same species.
Thanks,
Frank

Thrips
Thrips

Hi Frank
These look like Thrips in the order Thysanoptera to us.  See BugGuide for additional information.

Thrips
Thrips

Thanks — from looking at thrips I agree!!
Just now I got a better photo….
Frank

Thrips
Thrips

Letter 9 – Thrips from Singapore

 

Subject: What’s this bug
Location: Singapore
January 28, 2016 8:46 pm
Tail was able to arch forward. Did not seem to be able to fly despite the presence of wings.
Signature: Bob

Thrips
Thrips

Dear Bob,
This tiny insect is known as a Thrips, and that term is used in both the singular and the plural  This older posting on our site with images of Thrips from Thailand look very similar and the best we can do in terms of classification is family Phlaeothripidae, and there are some very similar looking images on Featured Creatures.

Thrips
Thrips

Letter 10 – Thrips from Singapore

 

Subject: Moves the tail like a scorpion?
Location: Singapore
March 14, 2016 9:25 pm
Never seen this before… Likely an outdoor bug. Curious to know what it is
Signature: Love TK

Thrips
Thrips

Dear TK,
This insect is known as a Thrips and we have received several submissions of individuals from Singapore in the past.

Letter 11 – Thrips

 

Subject:  Unidentified Insect
Geographic location of the bug:  Los Angeles County
Date: 10/24/2017
Time: 12:58 PM EDT
Greetings,
Looking to identify this insect that we’ve been seeing a lot lately here in Los Angeles. Both at the beach as well as inland in yards. Any idea what it is?
Thank you in advance!
How you want your letter signed:  Kevin

Thrips

Dear Kevin,
These are Thrips in the order Thysanoptera, and the same word is used to name the insect in both singular and plural situations.  According to BugGuide:  “Thrips can often be found on flowers, they are especially visible on light colored flowers like daisies. Be aware that though they are very tiny, they can give a slightly painful bite.”

Thrips

Letter 12 – Red Tube-Tailed Thrips

 

Confused Conservationists
Hi there friends at What’s That Bug,
I am writing from the Niagara Region in Ontario Canada….a team of our field staff from the Conservation Authority came across this mass on a tree and even our entomologist is stumped….we tried to send it to you back in June but didn’t hear back from you….we understand that you receive a high volume. Any help with the ID of these critters would be most helpful. They are doing a lot of damage in one particular area of this forest. Thanks and we love your site!!!!
dee

Hi Dee,
Other than suspecting that these are Beetle Larvae, we cannot provide you with any information. This type of aggregation would indicate a food source like perhaps fungus. Are you certain the larvae are responsible for the damage? It is possible something else is weakening the trees and the beetles are feeding on fungus on a damaged tree. Your letter did not really describe the damage. We will contact Eric Eaton to see if he can provide any information. We strongly recommend that you post your images to BugGuide.net as individuals can write in an comment and there are many knowledgeable contributors.

Update: (08/30/2008)
Daniel:
I have no idea on the larval aggregation, though in some respects they actually resemble thrips rather than beetle larvae. I’ll be interested to learn the consensus should the images be posted to Bugguide. An indication of size would also help immensely. … If I learn anything more about the red and black “beetle” larvae, I’ll let you know.
Eric

Update: 20 September 2008
Red Tube-tailed Thrips
A fellow by the name of Ken Ramos actually tracked down the ID, from some of his own pictures of similar beasts.
See http://www.photomacrography. net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=5888 .
Hope this helps!
Rik

Thanks Rik,
We will also be linking to the BugGuide page on the family Phlaeothripidae, the Tube Tailed Thrips.

Update: Sat, Jan 10, 2009 at 9:48 AM
The Red and Black Thrips posted by the Canadians is Hoplandrothrips brunneicornis.  I intercepted specimens coming from Ontario on firewood and sent them to the Smithsonian.  The adults were black and the immatures were red.  They inhabited logs with fungal rot and fungus beetle larvae on them.  The adults had enlarged front legs almost raptorial like a predator.   However, most thrips are plant feeders.  So it’s a mystery if they were feeding on the fungus or the fungus beetle larvae.  Not much literature exists about this species.

Letter 13 – Thrips

 

Subject: What’s this bug?
Location: Tennessee
June 1, 2015 3:12 pm
Hello! We recently have a ton of these crawling all over our above ground swimming pool and surrounding area. Can you please tell us what this is and if possible how to get rid of them? Thanks!
Signature: ?

Thrips
Thrips

This is a Thrips, a word that is the same for both singular and plural.  According to BugGuide:  “Almost half of the known species feed only on fungi; a considerable number feed only on green leaf tissues; a few are prey on other arthropods.(9) Plant-feeders often cause damage to leaves and flower petals.”  BugGuide also notes:  “Thrips can often be found on flowers, they are especially visible on light colored flowers like daisies. Be aware that though they are very tiny, they can give a slightly painful bite.”  We do not provide extermination advice.  Your submission will go live in several weeks when we are away from the office. 

Letter 14 – Thrips

 

Subject:  narrow striped bug
Geographic location of the bug:  centerville utah USA
Date: 06/29/2019
Time: 12:43 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  i was reading a paper and saw a black speck moving so i pulled out my microscope and saw this. it’s the end of june.
How you want your letter signed:  hunter pitt

Thrips

Dear Hunter,
Thanks for submitting your excellent enlargement of a Thrips (same singular and plural) a tiny insect in the order Thysanoptera generally found in association with plants.  According to BugGuide:  “Thrips can often be found on flowers, they are especially visible on light colored flowers like daisies. Be aware that though they are very tiny, they can give a slightly painful bite.”  Identifying the actually species is beyond our area of expertise.

Thrips

Letter 15 – Thrips

 

Subject:  What is this bug?
Geographic location of the bug:  Southern California
Date: 01/29/2020
Time: 12:51 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  These tiny bugs have bit me and my dog, I find them mainly by my grass and flying.
How you want your letter signed:  Chad

Thrips

Dear Chad,
This is a Thrips, and the same name is used in both the singular and plural.  According to BugGuide:  “Thrips can often be found on flowers, they are especially visible on light colored flowers like daisies. Be aware that though they are very tiny, they can give a slightly painful bite.”

Letter 16 – Western Flower Thrips from Malaysia

 

Update: January 11, 2011
Location Malaysia
Dear Daniel,
I managed to get better pictures of the thrips, they are identified as Western Flower Thrips. See attached files.
They are a major pest for greenhouse growers and very difficult to control.
Cheers,
Kenny

Thrip

Thanks for the update on your Western Flower Thrips.  Now we have to determine if the singular form of Thrips is Thrip.  This Earthlife page uses the singular Thrip.  Perhaps it is a moot point since a gardener would never have just one Thrip.

Thrip

Update: May 15, 2011
Upon posting a new possible Thrips photo, we discovered this comment on Csiro:  “The word thrips, is grammatically a plural noun, as is the word sheep. Therefore a single thrips is still ‘a thrips’ (not a thrip), just as one sheep is ‘a sheep’ (not a ship!).”

Letter 17 – Thrips in firewood

 

Subject:  Termites in Edmonton?
Geographic location of the bug:  Edmonton Alberta Canada
Date: 07/25/2021
Time: 10:17 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello!
We recently purchased some firewood for our indoor fireplace. 2 weeks later we saw (and heard) these bugs in the wood. Edmonton is supposed to be termite free, but these look and sounded like termites to us (we are not bug experts!) Help!
How you want your letter signed:  It’s supposed to be too cold here for bugs 🙂

Thrips

The insect in your image is a Thrips (singular and plural) and there is information on Gardening Know How.  Based on BugGuide images we believe you have Tube-tailed Thrips in the family Phlaeothripidae.

Oh my goodness, thank you for your quick response. That’s amazing. I’m sure you’re very busy.
Thanks again,
Christine

Letter 18 – What's Killing the Melon Plants? Are these Thrips???

 

Bug on Melon Trees
Location: Malaysia
December 4, 2010 2:00 am
Hi, I am having problems with my melon crops within a netted green house. Location is in Malaysia (tropical climate).
The melon plants grows as usual during the first 2 weeks, after that the grown is stunned and clustering of leaf on the top of the plant becomes apparent. Eventually the plant shoots will dry up and the leaf becomes hard and brittle.
I have lost a few thousand plants due to this.
Recently we have spotted these tiny insects on the leafs and could be the answer to the problems. They are very thin and the length is about 1mm long.
They crawl around the leafs like ants and doesnt seem to fly or hop.
I have not have any luck identifying the class of this pest, in order to determine the right insecticide to use.
Sorry for the poor quality image, hope this will help.z
Signature: Kenny

Possibly Thrips

Hi Kenny,
We cannot make out enough detail in your photo to be certain about an identification, however, you may have Thrips.  We will link to the BugGuide page on Thrips in the order Thysanoptera.  Even though you may have Thrips, we do not believe they are responsible for your high melon mortality rate.  There are other insects that bore in the stems of melons and related plants, and there may be something destroying the roots.  You may want to read this website on the control of Squash Vine Borers, a North American Moth as there may be a Malaysian relative with similar feeding habits.  We are posting your letter in the hopes that one of our readers may have a positive suggestion.  Good luck with your melon crop.

Brian from United States Department of Agriculture comments
As always great job!  Had to comment on this one.  The Thrips can very well be killing these melon plants.  Its well known that thrips are vectors of plant diseases.   “Over 20 plant infecting viruses are known to be transmitted by thrips. These enveloped viruses are considered among some of the most damaging of emerging plant pathogens around the world.”  Their feeding spreads the disease from plant to plant as the suck the juices from an infected plant and move on to a healthy plant and then inoculating it. Its like an contaminated hypodermic needle spreading a disease every time it is use on a new patient.
#1 Fan
Brian
aphis.usda.gov

Thanks so much Brian.  Your comment was a nice treat after a long, rough day.

Update: January 11, 2011
Dear Daniel,
I managed to get better pictures of the thrips, they are identified as Western Flower Thrips. See attached files.
They are a major pest for greenhouse growers and very difficult to control.
Cheers,
Kenny

Thrip

Thanks for the update on your Western Flower Thrips.  Now we have to determine if the singular form of Thrips is Thrip.

Thrip

15 thoughts on “Thrips: Macro Photographs”

  1. I have had the same experience with these insects… they seem to only appear and land on me in droves of hundreds… thank you for helping identify what they were.

    Reply
  2. thrips, or no see-ums. I know in TX you could be wearing a white tee-shirt and they would be all over, especially biting the ears. it would be so bad you had to go indoors.

    Reply
  3. Okay so I have little white bugs some of my like jelly some of our little hair some have wings. I think they’re starting to hatch on my body. I found a shell or a hatched egg. About the size of my thumb in my toolbox that is in my closet that is broken in my toolbox it’s in my closet cuz I live in the apartment. Pest Control has been coming for 3 weeks they did not come today they were supposed to I was saving some of these bugs to show them nobody seems to be concerned and I’m getting it up there getting it in my hair I went to the hospital they gave me the creamy rub all over your body and the trade of my body and my hair and they just keep coming back I’m pretty sure I have a variety of bugs here when the people upstairs moved out all the sudden today I got all these bugs in this apartment

    Reply
  4. A small swarm of moving black dots appeared on my bathroom windowsill a year ago…identified by one pest control techician as Springtails; another as Black Pepper mites. Within weeks, my forehead was covered in pinprick bites; then a large sore appeared on my neck…now I have scabs everywhere; mostly on my legs and shoulders,. Worst of all, though easing up on my body, these creatures are in my mouth, nose and throat.. At age 90, with a husband suffering from Alzheimer’s, this is a nightmare I cannot handle. Is this a common problem?

    Reply
  5. Did you find any answers? There is the same infestation in my new house now. It has moved to my hair. The pest control company didn’t have answers for me either. However, the eggs or shells that they hatch out of are small and look like they are rolled in nearly invisible white or colored threads. Thanks

    Reply
  6. Me as well. I have an infestation under bathroom sink & under kitchen sink. Everyone thought I was losing my mind since it only affects me. Mine have moved on/expanded. It seems to have larva that emits little white and or black tiny, with wings. Also I have ones that flip their tale like on a scorpion.

    Reply

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