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Sandfly (or sand fly) is a colloquial name for any species or genus of flying, biting, blood-sucking dipteran (fly) 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 sand gnat, sandflea, no-see-um (no-see-em, noseeum), granny nipper, chitra, punkie, or punky. Outside the United States, sandfly may refer to members of the subfamily Phlebotominae within the Psychodidae. Biting midges (Ceratopogonidae) are sometimes called sand flies or no-see-ums (no-see-em, noseeum). New Zealand sandflies are in the Austrosimulium genus, a type of black fly.
While horse flies are large flies, noseeums (sandfleas) and some 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; the protein in the blood is necessary for the production of eggs, making the sandfly an anautogenous reproducer.
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.
Leishmania donovani causes spiking fevers, hepatosplenomegaly, and pancytopenia. It can be diagnosed though microscopic review by visualizing amastigotes in containing macrophages, and is treatable with sodium stibogluconate.
Most information on repellents focuses on mosquitoes, but mosquito repellents are effective for sandflies and midges as well.
New Zealand sandflies (which are taxonomically blackflies—Simulidae) have a native Māori 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".
In moral philosophy, the nature of sandflies is used as an analogy for a particular implied inference, the "noseeum inference", where one fallaciously concludes that since one cannot see something, it therefore cannot exist.
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- Sand Flies – Beaufort County Library (via Internet Archive)
- Infectious skin disease found in Texas September 15, 2007 Breaking News – Sandfly may carry parasites that will cause infectious skin disease called leishmaniasis.
- Biting midges and no-see-ums --University of Florida