Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory




Regional Maps

Family PSYCHODIDAE Newman, 1834

Compiler and date details

April 2011 - Kathleen Nugent & Christine Lambkin, Queensland Museum

1999 - E.-M.E. Bugledich, CSIRO Entomology, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia


The Psychodidae is one of the more species-rich families of the Nematocera, with several thousand species worldwide. Although showing quite a diversity of body shapes, they are amongst the most easily recognised of nematocerans by virtue of the dense hairs covering the body and wings, hence the common name 'moth flies'. The broad wings are characteristic, with a reduced anal area, most longitudinal veins strongly developed, and costa running around the margins. The wings are are held either roof-like or flat over the back. Further identificatory features include the presence of special sensilla (ascoids) on each antennal flagellomere. Movement is characteristically jerky.

Some authors have elevated the medically significant Phlebotominae to family status, but the decision would render the remainder of the Psychodidae paraphyletic, and therefore phylogenetically is unwarranted.
The adult females of Phlebotominae, known in some parts of the world as 'sand flies', take a blood meal from vertebrate hosts. Elsewhere, especially in the non-Australian tropics and subtropics, phlebotomines may be vectors of the protozoan parasitic disease leishmaniasis.

Larval Psychodidae can be distinguished by the subdivision of each segment, with each subdivision dorsally sclerotised. In the subfamily Psychodinae, the larvae are often semi-aquatic and the abdomen generally ends in a tubular siphon, with spiracles borne at the apex. Fringes of hairsaround the spiracles may allow the larva to stay at the surface in anoxic habitats. Duckhouse (1995) presented a revised larval chaetotaxic terminology.
Other psychodid larvae are semi-terrestrial occurring in moist habitats, or in rotting wood (subfamily Trichomyiinae), compost, leaf litter, phytotelmata etc. Those that are aquatic tend to be either hygropetric and/or tolerant of eutrophication/anoxia. After heavy rain, riparian species may be washed into the adjacent aquatic habitat. Few life histories are known from Australia.

Types designated by D.A. Duckhouse and listed here as 'not found' in the ANIC are still in the care of D.A. Duckhouse pending further work and final dispatch to the ANIC.


General References

Artemiev, M.M. 1991. A classification of the subfamily Phlebotominae. Parassitologia 33(Suppl. 1): 69-77

Artemiev, M.M. & Neronov, V.M. 1984. Distribution and Ecology of Sandflies of the Old World (Genus Phlebotomus). Moscow : USSR Academy of Science.

Duckhouse, D.A. 1965. Psychodidae (Diptera, Nematocera) of Southern Australia, subfamilies Bruchomyiinae and Trichomyiinae. Transactions of the Royal Entomological Society of London 117: 329-343

Duckhouse, D.A. 1966. Psychodidae (Diptera, Nematocera) of southern Australia: subfamily Psychodinae. Transactions of the Royal Entomological Society of London 118: 153-220

Duckhouse, D.A. 1990. The Australasian genera of pericomoid Psychodidae (Diptera) and the status of related Enderlein genera in the Neotropics. Invertebrate Taxonomy 3: 721-746

Duckhouse, D.A. 1991. A revision of Australopapuan and New Caledonian Brunettia (Diptera, Psychodidae). Invertebrate Taxonomy 4: 973-1030

Duckhouse, D.A. 1995. The final-stage larvae of Brunettia (Diptera: Psychodidae: Psychodinae) and their evolutionary significance. Invertebrate Taxonomy 9: 83-105

Duckhouse, D.A. & Lewis, D.J. 1989. Superfamily Psychodoidea. 15. Family Psychodidae. pp. 166-179 in Evenhuis, N.L. (ed.). Catalog of the Diptera of the Australasian and Oceanian Regions. Honolulu and Leiden : Bishop Museum Press and E.J. Brill 1155 pp.

Lane, R.P. 1993. Sandflies (Phlebotominae). pp. 78-119 in Lane, R.P. & Crosskey, R.W. (eds). Medical Insects and Arachnids. London : Chapman & Hall xv 723 pp.

Lewis, D.J. & Dyce, A.L. 1983. Phlebotomine sandflies (Diptera: Psychodidae) from caves in Queensland, Australia. Journal of the Australian Entomological Society 22: 223-231

Quate, L.W. & Vockeroth, J.R. 1981. Psychodidae. pp. 293-300 in McAlpine, J.F., Peterson, B.V., Shewell, G.E., Teskey, H.J., Vockeroth, J.R. & Wood, D.M. (coordinators) (eds). Manual of Nearctic Diptera. Ottawa : Research Branch, Agriculture Canada. Monograph 27 Vol. 1 674 pp.


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
02-May-2011 04-May-2011 MODIFIED
12-Feb-2010 (import)