Identifying Thrips and Their Damage, Other Thrips, and Predatory Thrips

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Pest thrips

  • Greenhouse thrips
  • Avocado thrips
  • Neohydatothrips burungae

Other thrips

  • Citrus thrips
  • Western flower thrips

Natural enemies

  • Banded thrips
  • Black hunter thrips
  • Sixspotted thrips
  • Franklinothrips orizabensis

Names link to more information on identification and management.

Pest thrips—Click on photos to enlarge
Species, Adult Species, Larvae Damage
Greenouse thrips adul
Greenhouse thrips adult
Identification tip: Greenhouse thrips adult is black with pale wings. This slow-moving species lives in groups, unlike the solitary, fast-moving blackish predatory thrips.
Greenhouse thrips larvae
Greenhouse thrips larvae
Identification tip: Greenhouse thrips larvae are white or yellow. At the tip of their abdomen they often carry a droplet of dark excrement.
Greenhouse thrips damage
Greenhouse thrips damage
Identification tip: Greenhouse thrips damage is pale or whitish to brown discoloration with specks of black excrement on the upper surface of leaves and on fruit in clusters.
Avocado thrips adult
Avocado thrips adult
Identification tip: Avocado thrips adult has 3 red spots on top of its head, and brown lines separating segments on the upper side and underside of its pale yellow abdomen.
Avocado thrips larvae
Avocado thrips larvae
Identification tip
: Avocado thrips larvae are white to yellowish, resembling citrus and western flower thrips larvae.
Avocado thrips damage
Avocado thrips damage
Identification tip: Avocado thrips damage develops into brown scarring on fruit skins, often in a webbed pattern.
Adult Neohydatothrips burungae
Neohydatothrips burungae adult
Identification tip: Neohydatothrips burungae has 3 red head spots, closely resembling avocado thrips. However, N. burungae is often darker and brown bands occur only on top of its abdomen, not underneath.
No photo available.
Neohydatothrips burungae
No photo available.
Neohydatothrips burungae
Other thrips (not damaging to Avocado)
Species, Adult Species, Larvae Damage

Citrus thrips
Citrus thrips, Scirtothrips citri, adult
Identification tip: Adult citrus thrips lack the brownish bands found on abdominal segments of avocado thrips.

Citrus thrips larvae
Citrus thrips larvae
Identification tip: Citrus thrips larvae are light orangish yellow to white. They resemble avocado thrips larvae, but citrus thrips occur on avocado only when it grows near citrus.
Not damaging to Avocado.
Western flower thrips
Western flower thrips, Frankliniella occidentalis, adult
Identification tip: The adult of this common species can be black, brownish, yellow, white, or orange. Its abdomen extends well beyond the wing tips at rest. Western flower thrips has thick, bristly hairs at the tip of the abdomen, whereas avocado thrips and citrus thrips do not.
Western flower thrips larvae
Western flower thrips larvae
Identification tip: Western flower thrips larvae are orangish to yellow. On avocado they occur mostly on flowers and leaves near blossoms.
Not damaging to Avocado.
Natural enemies
Beneficial predatory thrips

Banded thrips, Aeolothrips fasciatus
Banded thrips, Aeolothrips fasciatus, adult
Identification tip: This predatory thrips is black with three broad white bands on each forewing. It feeds on other thrips and pests, such as mites and whiteflies.

Black hunter thrips, Leptothrips mali
Black hunter thrips, Leptothrips mali, larva
Identification tip: This species is dark brown or black and adults have white wings. It preys on mites and certain other pests, such as scales, and is more active than similar-looking adult greenhouse thrips.

Sixspotted thrips
Sixspotted thrips adult
Identification tip: There are three dark blotches on each forewing of this mite predator.

Franklinothrips orizabensis adult
Franklinothrips sp. adult
Identification tip: Franklinothrips orizabensis and F. vespiformis are predators of  avocado thrips, persea mite, and other pests such as avocado lace bug. F. orizabensis is more common in avocado groves, but these Franklinothrips cannot be reliably distinguished in the field.

Franklinothrips orizabensis larva
Franklinothrips sp. larva
Identification tip: In comparison with avocado thrips larvae, this second-instar predatory thrips has a more oval shape and is darker yellow with an orange or red swollen abdomen that appears as a colored dot to the naked eye.

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