Section I: Recognition and Identification of Phlebotomine Sand Flies

Is it a sand fly?

The term "sand fly" is often misused to refer to biting midges (family Ceratopogonidae), which are often confused with true sand flies (family Psychodidae, subfamily Phlebotominae).

  1. The biting midges (left) are about one-fourth the size and have more stout bodies.
  2. Biting midges have dense pigmented hairs in patches on their wings, giving the wings a spotted appearance.
  3. Unlike true sand flies, the large compound eyes of biting midges are contiguous (no eye-bridge present) or nearly contiguous with only a thin eye bridge.
biting midge

Culicoides brevitarsis

Photo credit: AAHL, CSIRO

sand fly

Phlebotomus sergenti

Photo credit: J Stoffer

The Walter Reed Biosystematics Unit | Museum Support Center, MRC-534 | Smithsonian Institution | 4210 Silver Hill Rd. | Suitland, MD 20746-2863 USA | Ph: 301-238-1077; FAX: 301-238-3168
Entomology Branch | Walter Reed Army Institute of Research | 503 Robert Grant Avenue | Silver Spring, MD 20910-7500 USA

WRAIR logo  Smithsonian Institution logo © Smithsonian Institution  | Privacy | Terms of use | Contact WRBU