Print Fact SheetThrips sambuci

Distinguishing features

Both sexes fully winged. Body and femora light brown, tarsi and extreme apices of tibiae almost yellow; major setae light brown; antennal segment III almost yellow, IV–V yellow at base, VI–VII brown; fore wings weakly shaded with base paler. Antennae 7-segmented; III–IV each with short forked sense cone, VII small. Head with 2 pairs of ocellar setae; pair III no longer than distance between 2 ocelli, arising on anterior margin of ocellar triangle; postocular setae pair I longer than ocellar setae III, postocular setae pair II very small. Pronotum with 2 pairs of long posteroangular setae; posterior margin with 3 (or 2) pairs of setae; discal area with weak sculptured striae. Mesonotum with paired anterior campaniform sensilla present or absent; median setae arise well in front of posterior margin. Metanotum with irregular reticulation medially; median setae arising behind anterior margin; campaniform sensilla absent. Fore wing first vein with 3 setae on distal half; second vein with 11–12 setae. Abdominal tergite II with 4 lateral marginal setae; tergites V–VIII with paired ctenidia, on VIII posteromesad to spiracles; tergite VIII posteromarginal comb largely absent, with few or no microtrichia laterally; pleurotergites with no discal setae, sculpture lines with dentate microtrichia, posterior margin with few or no microtrichia; tergite IX with 2 pairs of campaniform sensilla, X with median split. Sternites with no discal setae; sternite VII marginal setae S1 arise in front of margin.
Male smaller and paler than female; tergite VIII with no posteromarginal comb; tergite IX median setae slender; sternites III–VI (or VII) with transverse pore plate. 

Related species

The genus Thrips is the second largest genus in the Thysanoptera, and currently includes, worldwide, over 290 species. All members of genus Thrips lack ocellar setae I on the head, and they all have ctenidia on tergite VIII posteromesad to the spiracles. Other characters, such as number of antennal segments, number of setae on the fore wing veins, and number of discal setae on the sternites are variable between species (Palmer, 1992; Nakahara, 1994; Mound & Masumoto, 2005). The monophagous species Thrips sambuci is distinguished from the widespread polyphagous species Thrips fuscipennis only by very weak character states (see zur Strassen, 2003). In sambuci, antennal segment V tends to be paler at the base, the mesonotal anterior pair of campaniform sensilla are often absent, and the posteromarginal comb on tergite VIII is almost completely absent.

Biological data

Associated with Sambucus nigra and Sambucus racemosa [Caprifoliaceae], this species breeds on the leaves rather than the flowers of it host plants (information from Manfred Ulitzka).

Distribution data

Widespread in Britain from southern England to at least southern Scotland (Mound et al, 1976), though infrequently collected in recent decades. Recorded widely across Europe.

Family name


Species name

Thrips sambuci Heeger

Original name and synonyms

Thrips sambuci Heeger, 1854: 369
Thrips nigra Williams, 1916: 281


Mound LA & Masumoto M (2005) The genus Thrips (Thysanoptera, Thripidae) in Australia, New Caledonia and New Zealand. Zootaxa 1020: 1–64.

Mound LA, Morison GD, Pitkin BR & Palmer JM (1976) Thysanoptera. Handbooks for the Identification of British Insects 1 (11): 1–79.

Nakahara S (1994) The genus Thrips Linnaeus (Thysanoptera: Thripidae) of the New World. United States Department of Agriculture. Technical Bulletin 1822: 1–183.

Palmer JM (1992) Thrips (Thysanoptera) from Pakistan to the Pacific: a review. Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) Entomology Series 61 (1): 1–76.

zur Strassen R (2003) Die terebranten Thysanopteren Europas und des Mittelmeer-Gebietes. Die Tierwelt Deutschlands 74: 1–271.