Six-spotted thrips are tiny insects, less than 1/16 of an inch long, with translucent or yellowish bodies. They have six dark spots, three on each wing, which is where they derive their name. Like other thrips species, the life cycle of a six-spotted thrips usually occurs in 4 to 5 stages. Most species of thrips are problematic for growers of cultivated crops, mainly fruits and vegetables. This is due, in part, to their feeding habits, as well as the prolific breeding that occurs throughout the species. The six-spotted thrips, however, does not reproduce in great numbers.
Six-spotted thrips have no distinguishing features in the early stages of their lives. They develop their spots when they reach adulthood. Like other thrips species, six-spotted thrips do not have a metamorphosis phase. They will become inactive in pupa stages, and then emerge from those phases as adults. Six-spotted thrips develop through an egg phase to a larval phase, then usually two pupa phases before adulthood.
Another unique feature of the six-spotted thrips is that it is a beneficial insect. Unlike other thrips that feed on, and significantly damage, plants, fruits and commercial crops, the six-spotted thrips feeds on mites that destroy those same crops. They are sold in bulk to farmers to release into their corn crops, as well as their fruit and nut orchards.
Six-spotted thrips, like other species of thrips, conceal themselves in flowers and leaves of plants and, usually, will feed on the young foliage. Most thrips feed by inserting their mouthparts into food sources, such as fruits, flowers or vegetables, and sucking out the juices. Six-spotted thrips feed the same way, only they are predaceous, so they feed on insects.