Thysanoptera in Australia

Recognition data

Distinguishing features

Female macroptera. Body yellow with brown markings medially on tergites and sternites, antecostal ridges on tergites and sternites dark brown; fore wings weakly shaded, paler toward apex; antennal segment I pale, II dark, III–IV pale with apex shaded, V–VIII dark. Head about twice as wide as long, postocular and ocellar region closely striate; ocellar setae pair III arise within ocellar triangle on or close to tangent between anterior margins of posterior ocelli, distance between their bases less than diameter of first ocellus; compound eyes with no ommatidia strongly pigmented; two pairs of post-ocellar setae longer than ocellar setae pair III. Pronotum closely striate, posteromarginal setae S2 clearly longer than S1. Metanotal sculpture variable, transverse anteriorly, longitudinally reticulate posteriorly; median pair of setae at anterior margin. Fore wing clavus with 3–4 marginal setae; second vein with 2 – 5 setae; posteromarginal fringe cilia all weakly undulating. Tergites III–V with bases of median setae usually closer together than length of these setae; tergal microtrichial fields with 3 discal setae; VIII with discal microtrichia present anteromedially, posteromarginal comb complete; tergite IX with discal microtrichia absent. Sternites almost covered with microtrichia except anteromedially on VII.

Male macroptera. Similar to female in colour and sculpture, but smaller; hind femur with row of 5–7 stout dark setae on distal posterior margin; aedeagus apparently with no armature.

Related and similar species

The genus Scirtothrips comprises over 100 described species worldwide, with 21 species known from Australia most of which are endemics to this continent. These species all have the lateral thirds of the abdominal tergites covered in closely spaced rows of fine microtrichia, and in many species the sternites also bear similar microtrichia. The antennae are 8-segmented, except in S. casuarinae and S. solus, both forewing veins have an irregular and incomplete setal row, and a median spinula is present on both the meso and metafurca. Only one other species of Scirtothrips in Australia has microtrichial fields extending fully across the sternites; in S. aurantii, these almost cover the entire surface, whereas in S. dorsalis they are restricted to the posterior half of each sternite. The forewing posteromarginal cilia are wavy in S. aurantii but straight inS. dorsalis, and moreover S. aurantii is unique within this genus in having a comb of stout dark setae on the posterior margin of the hind femora of males.

Distribution data

General distribution

Widespread in Africa; introduced to Australia.

Australian distribution

Queensland, northern New South Wales.

Biological data

Life history

Feeding and breeding on young leaves and fruits.

Host plants

Highly polyphagous; recorded from approximately 30 different plant families. In Australia, commonly restricted to Mother of Millions, Bryophyllum and Kalanchoe(Crassulaceae), but a potential pest of several crops including Mango and Blueberry (Garms et al in press 2012)

Taxonomic data

Current valid name

Scirtothrips aurantii Faure

Original name and synonyms

  • Scirtothrips aurantii Faure, 1929: 3
  • Scirtothrips acaciae Moulton, 1930: 200


Hoddle MS & Mound LA. 2003. The genus Scirtothrips in Australia (Insecta, Thysanoptera, Thripidae). Zootaxa 268: 1-40. http://www.mapress.com/zootaxa/2003f/zt00268.pdf

Oz thrips taxa