THRIPS OR THUNDERFLIES (THYSANOPTERA)

J. Hobart

Thrips are small insects (mostly 1-3 millimetres long), with two pairs of fringed wings and with curious asymmetric sucking mouthparts. Many species are associated with flowers and foliage, feeding and/or breeding on herbaceous or woody plants. A few others live in leaf litter or in association with fungi such as Stereum. A few are predatory, feeding on tiny arthropods such as mites and other species of thrips. When Mound, Morison, Pitkin and Palmer wrote their key work on the identification of Thysanoptera in 1976, 158 species of thrips were included as having been recorded from Britain. Since that time a further six species have been recorded in this country, mainly by Dominique Collins working at the Central Science Laboratory, York (Robinson & Collins, 2005). One of these, Heliothrips haemorrhoidalis (Bouché), has been recorded breeding outdoors on Tresco, Isles of Scilly. According to the vice county records included in Mound et al. (1976), some dozen species of thrips were recorded from Cornwall, and none from the Isles of Scilly. This paucity of records certainly reflects the absence of collecting in Cornwall. Since Devon has six or seven times this number of thrips species listed, it can be confidently expected that further collecting in the Duchy will substantially increase the number of species known here.