Thrips on Daisy Blossom

2015 February 14

We constantly see large numbers of these little black insects on daisy blossoms. These are from July 12, 2014. The yellow center of the daisy was only about half an inch, so we can see that these are pretty small.

As it turns out, they were so tiny and so black that they photographed very poorly. This one picture came out OK, though.

These look like Thrips, which is a new insect order for this site (order Thysanoptera). I’ve got no excuse for taking this long to get pictures from this order, other than maybe negligence – Thrips are extremely common, and I probably could have found some at any time if I tried. These specific ones look like they are in the genus Haplothrips, and there is a good chance that they are Haplothrips leucanthemi. Which are commonly found on daisies, and so of course have the common name “Clover Thrips”. Well, I suppose they are probably on clover too, if I look.

Anyway, Thrips are weird little insects. Their wings are basically just sticks with a fringe of hairs, no membrane. Their mouthparts are asymmetrical, with only one mandible modified for piercing and sucking. In spite of being so tiny, they can (and evidently often do) give a somewhat painful bite. And while most species just live in the leaf litter and eat fungus, a lot of species eat green plants, sometimes to the point that they are significant agricultural pests. And, a lot of them eat pollen, which is apparently what these particular thrips were after from this daisy.

And, finally, a bit of entomology etymology: “Thrips” is both the singular and the plural. This apparently has to do with the name being taken from the Greek word for “woodworm”, which already ended with an “s” sound, and Greek nouns aren’t pluralized by adding “s” to them in any case. Which isn’t to say that we couldn’t just declare, “OK, maybe this word used to be Greek, but it is English now, and in English we will call a single individual a ‘Thrip’. So there.” We could do that, but we haven’t. We probably would, if most people actually even talked about thrips in the singular with any frequency. But, since I can count the number of times that thrips have come up in casual conversation in the past year on approximately the fingers of no hands, I can’t say that this is really a burning linguistic issue.

2 Responses
  1. February 14, 2015

    Our larger daisies (approx 1″ centers) get earwigs. I’ll take a thrip any day.

  2. February 16, 2015

    I actually thought that these were some kind of tiny earwigs at first.

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