Section I: Recognition and Identification of Phlebotomine Sand Flies

Is it a sand fly?

The family Psychodidae also contains the subfamily Psychodinae, which are commonly referred to as "moth flies" or "drain flies." Moth flies have roundish bodies and are covered in dense hairs so that they resemble moths. The name "drain fly" comes from their habit of breeding in latrine and sewer drains (these are the flies you commonly encounter in a gas station restroom). Although moth flies and true sand flies are in the same family, Psychodidae, moth flies do not feed on blood.

These flies may superficially look similar, but upon closer examination you will see that moth flies are

  1. darker in color,
  2. have bead-like antennae, and
  3. have a stouter, rounder more hunch-backed appearance.
moth fly

Psychoda spp

Photo credit: UNL Extension

Phlebotomus papatasi

Phlebotomus papatasi

Photo credit: J Stoffer

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