This family includes 17 species in three genera, but
15 of these are placed in the genus Merothrips.
Currently, there is no satisfactory way to distinguish this family
from the Melanthripidae, species in both
families retaining paired lobes on the posterior margin of sternite
VII that are considered to represent the sternite VIII of ancestral
Species of Merothrips
have antennae with only 8 segments, and many species are known only
from wingless adults. In contrast, the two species in the other two
merothripid genera, including Erotidothrips
mirabilis that is illustrated
here (see Images), have 9-segmented antennae and have fully winged
adults. Merothripidae are widespread
in the tropics and sub-tropics, but they are minute and rarely collected.
They feed on fungi, and live on dead twigs and in leaf litter (Mound
& O'Neill, 1974). They are never pests of crops, but specimens
are sometimes taken in traps.
Available names: Original name Merothrips
floridensis Watson, 1927. Synonyms Merothrips capensis
Faure, 1938; Merothrips plaumanni Crawford, 1942; Merothrips
xylphilus Strassen, 1959; Merothrips priesneri, Bournier,
1960; Merothrips zondagi Ward, 1969.
Biology: Fungus feeding, on dead twigs and in leaf litter.
Most individuals are apterous, but winged females are sometimes taken
in traps associated with crops.
Distribution: Recorded from N. & S. America, southern France,
Azores, southern Africa, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, & Hawaii.
Recognition: Minute, yellow or yellowish brown, usually wingless
thrips. Head smaller than the trapezoidal pronotum, eyes small, one
pair of long interocular setae. Antennae 8-segmented, almost moniliform,
VIII spindle shaped, III & IV with transversely oval sensory area
at apex. Pronotum with one pair of long posteroangular setae, dorsal
surface with sculpture limited to 2 or 3 transverse lines postero-medially;
paired longitudinal sutures anterolaterally. Mesonotum with pair of
long lateral setae. Tarsi 2-segmented. Abdomen slender, without long
setae except at apex; tergite X with pair of trichobothria at posterior
margin; sternite VII posterior margin with pair of large lobes each
bearing a pair of setae at base; ovipositor valves very weak, margins
Male smaller than female; dorsal surface of head occupied by large
glandular area; fore femora sometimes enlarged, fore tibia with tooth
at inner apex.
Related species: Between 12 and 15 species are listed in this
genus, although recognition of these species, also their generic placement,
is disputed by different authors. M. morgani
Hood is the second most commonly collected and widely distributed
species, and is distinguished from M. floridensis
by the presence of numerous faint lines of sculpture medially on the
Generic relationships: Only three genera are recognised in
the family Merothripidae, the other two
each including a single species (Mound & O'Neill 1974). The two
most distinctive species within Merothrips
have also been referred to two separate genera, but this is not currently
accepted (Mound & Marullo 1996).