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This is the largest family of Thysanoptera, with about 3550 species in 460 genera. At least 50% of the species are associated with dead plant tissues, feeding on fungi or the products of fungal decay; a large proportion of the remainder are leaf-feeding, with a smaller number breeding in flowers, and a few species predatory on other small arthropods.

Recognition of taxa within this family, at all levels, is often difficult because many species are polymorphic both within and between sexes, such that large and small individuals of a species are sometimes misidentified as representing different genera.

The Phlaeothripidae is generally regarded as the sole member of the Thysanoptera suborder Tubulifera, and Buckman et al. (2013) produced molecular evidence to support a sister relationship between this and the other suborder, Terebrantia.

Various other classifications that have been proposed are summarised in Mound (2011), and the available family-group names are indicated below within the two sub-families.


Buckman RS, Mound LA & Whiting MF (2012) Phylogeny of thrips (Insecta: Thysanoptera) based on five molecular loci. Systematic Entomology (Early View).

Mound LA (2011) Order Thysanoptera Haliday, 1836. Pp 201–202 In Zhang, Z.-Q. [Ed] Animal biodiversity: An outline of higher-level classification and survey of taxonomic richness. Zootaxa 3148: 1–237.


Idolothripinae Bagnall, 1908

Phlaeothripinae Uzel, 1895