Print Fact SheetThrips urticae

Distinguishing features

Both sexes fully winged. Body and legs yellow but tergite often with lightly shaded medially; major setae light brown; antennal segments IV–V brown distally but usually pale at base, VI–VII brown; fore wings pale to weakly shaded. Antennae 7-segmented; segments III–IV each with short forked sense cone; VII short. Head with 2 pairs of ocellar setae; pair III about as long as distance between 2 ocelli, arising just outside ocellar triangle; postocular setae pairs I and IV as long as ocellar setae III, pair II minute. Pronotum with 2 pairs of long posteroangular setae; posterior margin with 3 pairs of setae; anterior margin with one pair of setae clearly longer than discal setae. Mesonotum with paired anterior campaniform sensilla. Metanotum irregularly to longitudinally reticulate medially; median setae arising behind anterior margin; campaniform sensilla present. Fore wing first vein with 3 setae on distal half; second vein with row of 10–12 setae. Abdominal tergite II with 4 lateral marginal setae; tergites V–VIII with paired ctenidia laterally, on VIII posteromesad to spiracles; tergite VIII posteromarginal comb complete, microtrichia long and slender, discal setae S1 clearly shorter than S2; pleurotergites without discal setae, without microtrichia on sculpture lines, with few microtrichia on posterior margin; tergite IX with only one pair of campaniform sensilla, X with median split. Sternites without discal setae; median setae on VII arising in front of margin.
Male smaller than female; tergite VIII posteromarginal comb complete medially but microtrichia weak and irregular; sternites III–VII each 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). Thrips urticae shares many character states with Thrips flavus, but usually has the abdominal tergites weakly shaded medially, and the anterior margin of the pronotum bears a pair of unusually elongate setae.

Biological data

Feeding and breeding in the flowers of its host plant, Urtica dioica [Urticaceae]. 

Distribution data

Recorded widely in England, but infrequently and with a southern bias (Mound et al., 1976), this species has a wide distribution across Europe.

Family name


Species name

Thrips urticae Fabricius

Original name and synonyms

Thrips urticae Fabricius, 1781: 397
Thrips fallax Priesner, 1925: 149


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.