Red Thrip Nymphs on Daisy

2016 January 13

The girls spotted these tiny red insects on August 7, 2015. The flower was a daisy that was part of a cut-flower centerpiece on our dining-room table.

These insects were very tiny, barely over a millimeter. If it weren’t for their bright orange-red coloration, we might never have seen them at all.

They look like thrips, order Thysanoptera. And, being wingless, they would be immature nymphs.

They seemed to be eating daisy nectar and pollen, since they don’t appear to be actually damaging the blossom at all. I thought that the red color would be diagnostic for identification, but it turns out not to be, since it appears that a lot of different kinds of thrips have red nymphs.

Just from the fact that they are on daisies, I would suspect that they are the nymphs of clover thrips, which we constantly see on daisies as the larger, black, winged adults like this one (posted previously):

Although the head shape is different enough that I suspect that they may not actually be the same species.

Normally, when I see an insect this shade of red, I assume that it is a warning color and that the insect is probably toxic. But, given how tiny these are, their predators will mostly be so tiny and so lacking in learning ability that warning coloration is likely to be lost on them. The orange color may actually just be an ultraviolet-protective pigment.

One Response
  1. January 14, 2016

    The red thriplings are pretty cool. The black dude needs to be reworked by the art department.

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