Abstract: In recent years, the polyphagous pest Thrips palmi Karny has become a species of major quarantine concern, often intercepted on plant material in international trade. The ability to rapidly identify the species is a critical factor that will determine the success of any campaign to prevent its establishment in Europe or elsewhere. However, the immature stages cannot currently be identified to the species level with certainty by morphological methods. In this study, random amplified polymorphic DNA analysis was performed to identify putative markers, which were then screened by Southern blot analysis. One marker was sequenced and a real-time polymerase chain reaction assay developed. The assay was screened against 21 thrips species including 10 other species of the genus Thrips and were found to be specific to T. palmi. The assay is rapid, could be completed in as little as 45 min and can be used to aid the identification of T. palmi.