Both sexes fully winged. Body legs and antennae generally brown, antennal segments II–III(IV) paler, tarsi almost yellow; fore wings with two dark cross bands. Antennae 9-segmented; segments II–VIII with rows of microtrichia, VIII and IX equal in length, sensoria obliquely transverse on III–IV. Head with 4 pairs of prominent postocular setae. Ocellar setae III arise on margins of ocellar triangle. Pronotum posterior margin with 5 pairs of prominent setae and one pair of elongate posteroangular setae. Mesonotum with microtrichia on posterior half. Metanotum with concentric sculpture lines bearing microtrichia, median setae small near posterior margin. Fore tibia inner apex with a stout apical seta. Tergite VIII median setae about 0.5 as long as tergite; tergite X with paired trichobothria well developed. Sternites III–V each with one or more pairs of discal setae, VII posterior margin with pair of lobes each bearing 2 setae at base.
Male similar to female but abdomen slender.
The family Melanthripidae was withdrawn from synonymy under the Aeolothripidae by Bhatti (1990a), and members of these two families are probably not closely related despite similarities in the fore wings. Currently there are 36 species listed in the genus Melanthrips. Most of these are from the Mediterranean region, but three are from India, two from South Africa, and two from southwestern USA. There are three species in southern Europe with the fore wings similar to ficalbii in bearing transverse dark bands (zur Strassen, 2003).
Feeding and breeding in flowers of several plant species, and in Britain taken in association with Galium species, particularly G. aparine [Rubiaceae], and with Reseda lutea [Resedaceae].
Widespread and locally common in England as far north as Cumbria, and also recorded from Wales (Mound et al., 1976). Also found in the warmer parts of western Europe and the western Mediterranean.
Melanthrips ficalbii Buffa
Melanthrips ficalbii Buffa, 1907: 61
Melanthrips angusticeps Bagnall, 1924: 10
Melanthrips anglicus Priesner, 1936: 47
Bhatti JS. (1990a) Family group names in the Order Terebrantia (Insecta). Zoology (Journal of Pure and Applied Zoology) 2 (4): 185–192.
Mound LA, Morison GD, Pitkin BR & Palmer JM (1976) Thysanoptera. Handbooks for the Identification of British Insects 1 (11): 1–79.
zur Strassen R (2003) Die terebranten Thysanopteren Europas und des Mittelmeer-Gebietes. Die Tierwelt Deutschlands 74: 1–271.