Female macroptera. Body colour varying from yellow to brown, depending largely on temperatures during development; ocellar pigment never red, usually grey; antennal segments III–IV brown with basal half pale; fore wings pale. Antennae 7-segmented. Head wider than long, ocellar setae pair III small and arising on anterior margins or just within triangle; postocular setae pairs I–III about equal to ocellar setae III in length. Pronotum posterior margin with 3 (or 4) pairs of setae. Mesonotum without anterior pair of campaniform sensilla. Metanotum irregularly reticulate medially with lines converging to midpoint near posterior margin; median setae short and arising behind anterior margin; campaniform sensilla absent. Fore wing first vein usually with 4 (varying from 2–6) setae on distal half, second vein with row of about 15 setae. Tergite II with 3 lateral marginal setae; posterior margin of tergite VIII with complete comb of long slender microtrichia; tergite IX lacking pair of campaniform sensilla on anterior half; pleurotergites without discal setae, sculpture bearing rows of fine microtrichia. Sternites without discal setae.
Male macroptera. Small and yellow; tergite VIII with marginal comb represented by a few irregular microtrichia; sternites III–V with narrow transverse pore plate.
There are 33 species of Thrips genus known from Australia, out of a total of 280 species worldwide (Mound & Masumoto, 2005). Many of these species have the antennae clearly 7-segmented, whereas others have 8 segments. Some species have two complete rows of setae on the fore wing veins, whereas others have the setal row on the first vein more or less widely interrupted. Moreover, some species have sternal discal setae, whereas other species have only marginal setae on the sternites. Despite this variation, all members of Thrips genus have paired ctenidia on the tergites, and on tergite VIII these are postero-mesad to the spiracles, and they also lack ocellar setae pair I in front of the first ocellus. In contrast, Frankliniella species have ctenidia on tergite VIII antero-lateral to the spiracles, and a pair of setae is always present in front of the first ocellus.T, tabaci has a dense covering of closely spaced rows of microtrichia on the pleurotergites, and moreover lacks paired campaniform sensilla on the anterior half of the ninth abdominal tergite, both of these being unusual character states within the genus Thrips. The lack of red pigment beneath the three ocelli on the head usually facilitates recognition of this species.
Worldwide, but rare in wet tropics. Presumably originally from eastern Mediterranean area where males occur.
Widespread across Australia.
Feeding and breeding in flowers and on leaves. Males known in eastern Mediterranean countries and also New Zealand, but not in Australia.
Polyphagous, but in low numbers on Australian native vegetation. Abundant on Allium (Alliaceae), cereals, potatoes, vines and glasshouse crops. Feeding damage includes silvering of leaves. Vector of tospoviruses, particularly potatoes in Tasmania. Also a predator of mites.
Thrips tabaci Lindeman, 1889
Mound LA & Masumoto M. 2005. The genus Thrips (Thysanoptera, Thripidae) in Australia, New Caledonia and New Zealand. Zootaxa 1020: 1-64. http://www.mapress.com/zootaxa/2005f/zt01020p064.pdf