Over the last few days, we’ve received a few notes and photos (see above) from folks describing fuzzy, moth-like flies flitting about their kitchen or bathroom. So we turned to our favorite bug guru, Matt Bertone, for the inside scoop:
1. Flies in the family Psychodidae (particularly the subfamily Psychodinae) are often called moth flies or drain flies. The former name comes from the covering of hairs and scale-like hairs that give these flies the appearance of a fuzzy little moth (which can be confusing to non-entomologists). The latter name comes from one of their most familiar habitats – inside the gunk-filled plumbing of our bathrooms and kitchens. Yum!
2. Moth flies are also commonly found out in nature. Most require very moist places to live, like damp leaf litter or standing pools of water. Their favorite habitats include compost piles (where they can also frequently encounter humans), water bodies formed by terrestrial plants (called phytotelmata) that include treeholes and bromeliads, dung, large bodies of water and other moist situations where organic matter builds up.
3. So what are they doing? Moth fly larvae feed on decaying matter and bits of organic debris. Like many true flies, they can be important decomposers. You can even think of them as your own little plumbers, slowly feeding on the organic buildup in your pipes. A mucky job but someone has to do it – and I think they enjoy it! Adult moth flies generally do not feed, but may munch on bits of organic matter or visit flowers.