Both sexes fully winged. Body and legs uniformly brown; female with antennal segment III yellow with apex more or less brown, segment IV yellow in about basal half and brown distally; fore wings with posterior margin dark from apex and including clavus, medially extending to or beyond first longitudinal vein and sometimes to costa. Antennae 9-segmented, segment III with linear sensorium about 0.3 as long as segment, IV with sensorium more than 0.5 as long as segment and curved at apex, V–IX forming a single unit with V much longer than VI–IX. Head with no long setae; pronotal posteromarginal setae stouter than pronotal discal setae. Fore tarsus apically with stout recurved ventral hamus. Metanotum reticulate. Median two pairs of marginal setae on sternites arising at or close to margin, lateral two pairs displaced onto disc; sternite VII with two pairs of accessory setae small and arising sub-marginally.
Male with antennae darker, segment III fuscous; fore wing with median dark band extending fully across wing; tergites IV–V without paired tubercles; tergite IX without claspers or stout setae.
A. vittipennis is one of a group of North American species in which the posterior half of the fore wing is dark, but unlike most of these species the dark area extends from the wing apex to the clavus. About 105 species are placed currently in the genus Aeolothrips. Most of these are from the Palaearctic Region (including the Mediterranean, Iran and northern India, but with five species extending through eastern Africa to South Africa), with about 30 species from the Nearctic (mainly western USA). Only one species of this genus is known from the Neotropics, A. fasciatipennis described from Chile, but Mound & Marullo (1996) indicate this is probably the same as A. fasciatus.
Adults have been collected from a wide range of flowering plants and grasses, but with no indication of any larval associations. This species is presumably flower-living as a facultative predator with a mixed diet of pollen and the larvae of other thrips.
Originally described from Illinois, this species was further described under three names from Florida, Colorado and California that are now considered to be synonyms. It is reported as widespread across North America, and specimens have also been studied from Guatemala. A closely related species, A. mexicanus Priesner from Central America (Mound & Marullo, 1996), apparently differs in having the median dark band on the fore wing complete across the wing in females.
Aeolothrips vittipennis Hood
Aeolothrips vittipennis Hood, 1912: 129
Aeolothrips floridensis Watson, 1916: 126
Aeolothrips oculatus Hood, 1927: 125
Aeolothrips yosemitae Moulton, 1929: 125
Bailey SF (1951) The genus Aeolothrips Haliday in North America. Hilgardia 21: 43–80.
Mound LA & Marullo R (1996) The Thrips of Central and South America: An Introduction. Memoirs on Entomology, International 6: 1–488.