Thysanoptera in Australia

Recognition data

Distinguishing features

Female macroptera. Body brown, tarsi yellow, antennal segment III light brown with pedicel yellow; fore wings light brown. Antennae 8-segmented, III asymmetric with simple sensorium on slight lateral prominence, IV with simple sensorium. Head longer than wide, projecting in front of eyes; with 3 pairs of ocellar setae; pair III anterolateral to ocellar triangle, scarcely longer than distance between two ocelli; postocular setae small. Pronotum with 1 pair of long posteroangular setae, posterior margin with 3 pairs of setae. Metanotum reticulate, campaniform sensilla present, median setae arise behind anterior margin. Meso- and metafurca without spinula. Fore wing first vein with 2 setae on distal half, second vein with about 8 setae. Tergites reticulate medially, paired campaniform sensilla close to posterior margin, craspedum not developed; tergite IX with 1 pair of stout thorn-like setae. Sternites II–VII with 5–10 discal setae, without craspeda.

Male aptera. Head without ocelli; pterothorax transverse without wing buds; tergite IX with 2 pairs of equally small stout setae on tubercles, 1 pair medially, 1 pair laterally with elongate projection on one side; sternites III–VII with small sub-circular pore plate.

Related and similar species

Females of the genus Limothrips are characterised by the presence of a pair of unusually stout setae on the ninth tergite. Eight species are listed in this European genus, although two are of doubtful validity. Three species are now widespread around the world in temperate areas, and all three have been found in southern areas of Australia with L. cerealium the most common. This species has the external apical margin of antennal segment III weakly prolonged laterally.

Distribution data

General distribution

Worldwide in temperate areas

Australian distribution

Tasmania, South Australia, Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Western Australia.

Biological data

Life History

Feeding and breeding on leaves

Host plants

Grasses and cereal crops including Hordeum and Triticum (Poaceae). Adults swarm in late summer and are referred to as “Thunder Flies” in Europe, when they can cause serious problems by entering smoke detectors and causing fire alarms to sound.

Taxonomic data

Current valid name

Limothrips cerealium Haliday

Original name and synonyms

  • Thrips (Limothrips) cerealium Haliday, 1936: 445
  • Limothrips avenae Hinds, 1902: 139
  • Limothrips aptera Karny, 1914: 56
  • Limothrips minor Bagnall, 1927: 565
  • Limothrips astutus Priesner, 1964: 115


zur Strassen R. 2003. Die terebranten Thysanopteren Europas und des Mittelmeer-Gebietes. Die Tierwelt Deutschlands 74: 1-271.

Oz thrips taxa