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blood-feeding Lutzomyia longipalpis sandfly (click on image to enlarge it)
Author(s): Ray Wilson, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Vernacular names
• Deutsch: Schmetterlingsmücken
• English: sand flies
moth flies
• Español: psicódidos

Psychodidae (sand flies)

The members of this family are minute, moth-like flies. The medically important group is the subfamily of Phelobotominae, the phlebotomine sand flies. The females of this group feed on the blood of vertebrates by opening a small wound in the skin with their mouthparts and sucking the blood from the wound. The proboscis is short and cannot sting like in mosquitoes. The group contains important vector species, able to transmit Leishmania and other disease agents. Leishmaniasis is caused by Trypanosoma-like protozoa. The estimated annual incidence of cutaneous leishmaniasis is more than 1 million people and that of visceral leishmaniasis around 500,000.

The subfamily contains around 700 species which are characterized by their small size (about 3 mm long) and the long hairs on the body, legs and wings. Males, but sometimes also females, feed on various other sources, including nectar, honeydew, and the vascular tissues of plants. For breeding, the eggs are laid in moist soil, rich in organic matter like rubbish heaps or places frequented by domestic and wild animals. The larvae go through 4 instars during their development.

The following genera are currently entered under Psychodidae: