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Sandfly biting a human's little finger
Sandfly bite

Sandfly (or sand fly) is a colloquial name for any species or genus of flying, biting, blood-sucking Dipteran encountered in sandy areas. In the United States, sandfly may refer to certain horse flies that are also known as "greenheads" (family Tabanidae), or to members of the family Ceratopogonidae, also known in Florida and elsewhere as a sandflea, no-see-um, no-see-em, noseeum, sand gnats, granny nippers, chitras, punkie, or punky. Outside the United States, sandfly may refer to members of the subfamily Phlebotominae within the Psychodidae. Biting midges are sometimes incorrectly referred to as sand flies. Biting midges, also known as no-see-um, no-see-em or noseeum, are insects that belong to a different biological group and should not be confused with the sandflies.

While horse flies are large flies, noseeums (sandfleas) and Old-World sandflies are tiny midges. Sandfly bites may leave large, red itchy bumps that may turn into a rash. These bumps are frequently several times as itchy as mosquito bites, and tend to last longer as well.

In the various sorts of sandfly only the female is responsible for biting and sucking the blood of mammals, reptiles and birds. She requires the protein in the blood to make her eggs.

Some sandfly genera of the Phlebotominae subfamily are the primary vectors of leishmaniasis and pappataci fever; both diseases are confusingly referred to as sandfly fever. In the New World, leishmaniasis is spread by sand flies of the genus Lutzomyia; in the Old World, the disease is spread by sandflies of the genus Phlebotomus. Belize and Honduras are notorious in the Caribbean for their sandfly populations and travel pages frequently warn tourists to bring bug spray containing high concentrations of DEET.

Cultural views

In New Zealand, the native Māori created a legend wherein "the god Tu-te-raki-whanoa had just finished creating the landscape of Fiordland, it was absolutely stunning...so stunning that it stopped people from working. They just stood around gazing at the beauty instead. The goddess Hinenuitepo became angry at these unproductive people, so she created the sandfly to bite them and get them moving" (as seen here).

Sandfly-infested beaches

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