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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Family: Psychodidae (mothflies, sandflies)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Ecdysozoa > Panarthropoda > Tritocerebra > Phylum: Arthopoda > Mandibulata > Atelocerata > Panhexapoda > Hexapoda > Insecta (insects) > Dicondyla > Pterygota > Metapterygota > Neoptera > Eumetabola > Holometabola > Panorpida > Antliophora > Diptera (flies)

Mothfly, Psychoda sp.

Mothfly Psychoda sp., found in the bathroom. [photo Hamish Robertson]

There are two main subfamilies in the Psychodidae: the Psychodinae (mothflies) and the Phlebotominae (sandflies, although there are three other subfamilies of lesser importance. 

Mothflies (Psychodinae) are often found around sewerage installations. Their larvae feed on algae, fungi and bacteria and play an important role in purifying the sewerage. One often finds the odd moth fly around the toilet area in the bathroom.

Sandflies (Phlebotominae) are blood suckers and their larvae inhabit places where there is high organic matter such as in animal burrows, termite hills and tree holes. Sandflies are best known as vectors of species in the genus Leishmania, causing diseases collectively known as leishmaniasis.


  • Subfamily: Bruchomyiinae
  • Subfamily: Psychodinae (mothflies)
  • Subfamily: Phlebotominae (sandflies)
  • Subfamily: Sycoracinae
  • Subfamily: Trichomyiinae