Some thrips are known to feed on leaves, plants, fungi, flowers and fruit while other species eat mites and other small insects, including other thrips. Thrips eat by piercing the outer layer of their food, then extracting the fluids inside. They are considered agricultural pests due to the damage they cause to crops, as well as their rapid procreation. Some species also are carriers of plant diseases, resulting in low crop yields. Some species of thrips become pests in homes when they are carried in on flowers or plants. Thrips can bite humans and the bite may cause a mysterious itching.
Leaf-feeding and flower thrips deposit eggs into plants through an egg-laying apparatus called an ovipositor. Their eggs are identifiable by the halolike spots they leave on leaves and fruits. Their pupae cause further discoloration.
Thrips have a metamorphosis unlike most other insects. Technically, they have gradual metamorphosis but it has aspects similar to complete metamorphosis. Thrips emerge from eggs and develop through two wingless stages. But then they have a nonfeeding stage called the prepupa before developing into pupae. Thrips typically develop into mature adults within 20 days.
Upon emerging from their cocoons, young thrips feed on the plants on which they were initially deposited. While young stages are similar in appearance to their adult counterparts, they do not have wings and move from plant to plant by crawling until their wings develop.