Wednesday, November 01, 2006

What's that dunny bug?

Washroom fly, family Psychodidae, possibly Clogmia albipunctataEver been annoyed in the shower by tiny little flying things?

Ever actually tried to work out what they are, only to be baffled by a combination of their tiny size and confusing features?

Well I have. These things are tiny - the ones in my bathroom (ahem... yep it needs cleaning) have a wingspan of only 2-3 mm. There's a larger species (the one in the photo) that I sometimes see which is about 5 mm. In case you're wondering, I actually nabbed this one from a bathroom and brought it home for some photos, which seems somehow wrong...

And what are they? My first thought was a moth. Scaly-looking wings, hairy etc. But the antennae don't look right. And there's apparently only one set of wings.

Turns out they're a fly (order Diptera). They live in the suborder of flies called Nematocera (thread-like antennae) along with things like mosquitos, the other suborder being the Brachycera (short antennae) which are the more typical houseflies, robberflies etcetera.
And the family of these guys? Psychodidae.

They've got a variety of common names - washroom flies, drain-flies (reflecting their frequent use of bathrooms) and moth-flies.

They apparently like that gunk of fungus and god knows what else that accumulates in shower drains and the like. I wouldn't be surprised if they did well in sewer environments too.

What's more, my species looks awfully like what is identified as Clogmia albipunctata on this page (go there to see some other funky species too). That's in Japan; the species also appears common in America. I wonder where they're originally from?



Snail said...

Fabulous photo. I don't have these in my bathroom (ahem!) but I've seen them around the place. Now I can hold forth about them as if I've always known what they are.

BTW, Circus of the Spineless is up at the Neurophilosopher's Blog.

Sophie said...

Excellent photo !
I've never seen such an insect, although I've seen bathrooms that it would have liked.

I thought maybe you could help me identify this :

It's buzzing exactly like a mosquito (I heard it before I saw it), but it's bigger and furry...

David Nelson said...

G'day Sophie,
The insect in your photos is a bee fly (family Bombyliidae).

We get some spectacular ones with interestingly pigmented wings.

amegilla said...

What a beaut creature. They'd be welcome in my bahroom anytime. Especially if they magically make that drain gunk disappear.
I went and looked at every bathroom I could find, but only saw spiders, a variety of moths (including one lovely Geometrid)and scorpion flies.

Oh, and coincidentally, I've just posted about bee-flies here

Drhoz! said...

Yes, they do thrive in sewers. Also in Port-a-loos.

Janet said...

Regarding your moth fly - it is a beneficial insect, indicator of a non-chemically treated organic environment. Its larvae are approx 1mm wide, 10mm long, black, wriggle in water (their natural environment) and help decompose organic material (eg poo).

If it wasn't for them in environments such as septic systems, our world would be over-run with faeces.

Encourage them by not pouring disinfectants or chlorine down your loo.