Both sexes fully winged. Body and legs yellow without any shadings; antennal segment I pale, II–V with apex brown, VI light brown with yellow base; fore wing pale. Head slightly wider than long; three pairs of ocellar setae present, pair III shorter than diameter of one ocellus, arising between anterior margins of posterior ocelli; postocular setae pair I present, pair IV shorter than diameter of hind ocellus. Antennae 8-segmented; segments III–IV with forked sensorium. Pronotum with anteromarginal and anteroangular setae scarcely longer than discal setae, 2 pairs of posteroangulars long; one pair of minor setae medially between posteromarginal submedian setae; posteromarginal setae IV no larger than III. Metanotum with 2 pairs of setae close to anterior margin, campaniform sensilla present. Fore wing with 2 complete rows of veinal setae. Abdominal tergites V–VIII with paired ctenidia, VIII with ctenidia anterolateral to spiracle; posteromarginal comb on VIII with long, slender microtrichia on small triangular bases; tergite X clearly shorter than IX. Sternites III–VII without discal setae.
Californian paratypes of F. deserticola that have been studied from the Ewart Collection at UCR have ocellar setae III arising between the posterior ocelli, on or just posterior to a tangent joining the anterior margins of these ocelli. This condition was illustrated by Sakimura & O'Neill (1979) for this species as well as for F. ewarti and F. tuttlei. These are currently distinguished by the color of the sixth antennal segment, which is slightly paler at the base in F. deserticola (two female paratypes illustrated here) but uniformly dark in the other two species. The validity of these three as distinct species requires field studies on their host associations. The 24 species in the F. minuta group (Sakimura & O'Neill, 1979) are associated with flowers of the Asteraceae, and are known mainly from South and Central America and western USA. Currently 230 species are listed in the genus Frankliniella, with up to 130 further names placed into synonymy (Nakahara, 1997). This high rate of synonymy has been due to the previously unrecognized variability in size and color of so many species.
Frankliniella deserticola Sakimura & O'Neill
Presumably breeding in flowers
Hymenoclea salsola, Malacothrix sp. (Asteraceae)