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Psychodidae - Owlet-midges, Mothflies



NEMATOCERA, Psychodomorpha, Psychodoidea

Number of British species: 95

Size: T

Difficulty: 3-4



Small to medium sized (2-6 mm), often stout, usually densely pubescent Nematocera non-piercing except for the subfamilies Sycoracinae and Phlebotominae. Ocelli absent; in the Psychodinae, the largest and most common subfamily, the eyes are reniform and with an eye bridge, eyes circular in the other subfamilies antenna usually with 12 to 16 segments, the flagellomeres bottle- or barrel-shaped. Wing hairy, with 9- longitudinal veins and the R-fork and M-fork always present, though they may be incomplete basally; crossveins situated near the wing base or (partly) absent; wing usually acute, in Trichomyiinae, Sycoracinae and some Psychodinae wing rounded. While resting or walking the wings are hold above the abdomen like a roof, or besides the abdomen in a broad V-shape. Legs ranging from short to elongate.


The larval habitats of the five European subfamilies are rather diverse (and in some cases insufficiently known) but truly aquatic species are lacking. The larvae of the Phlebotominae are known from soil dug up from rodent burrows. Those of the Sycoracinae are semi-aquatic in mosses, spring brooks, or waterfalls and fast streams where they live on rocks near the surface or in the splash zone. Those of the Trichomyiinae and probably the Bruchomyiinae live in rotting and dead wood of deciduous trees. The larvae of the Psychodinae occur in a wide range of habitats: semi-aquatic, water-filled tree holes, leaf axils, kitchen sink deposit catchers, water purification plants (where they can be a pest), or more terrestrially in humus and leaf litter, as miners in leaves, in excrement, in public lavatories and toilets, in sand and mud alongside water, in moss mushrooms and bracket fungi, in dead wood, etc. The adults have a short and erratic flight and are largely found in woodland areas near water, in marshland, or near (indoor) larval habitats. They are predominantly nocturnal and by day they rest in dark places. Certain species are regularly found on window panes at dusk or occasionally swarm round sink overflows. Mouthparts are non-functional except in females of the Sycoracinae, which feed on the blood of amphibians, and the Phlebotominae, the “sand flies” which feed on human blood and, in the tropics, can be important disease vectors. Some Psychodinae do occasionally become a nuisance if they, for example, breed in numbers in domestic drains.


families/nematocera/psychodidae.txt · Last modified: 2008/05/24 17:00 (external edit)     Back to top
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