Most of us are familiar with those small, sluggish, triangular-shaped flies that hang around toilets and drains. A common - but disparaging - term for them is ‘bog flies’. Being so small (under six millimetres) their finer and quite beautiful detail tends to go un-noticed. They are generally considered just another ‘insect pest’ to be destroyed.
These little flies are completely harmless to humans or livestock in this region of Africa. There are a variety of species in several genera, not all of which have been positively classified. In the order Diptera they are all placed in the family Psychodidae. One common species is Clogmia albipunctata, which is often associated with humans. Although they are truly ‘flies’ they have a moth like appearance, from which they derive the common name ‘moth flies’.
The ‘ornamental tufts of hair’ are presumed to be used in courtship displays. ‘Picker, Griffiths and Weaving’ describe some researched behaviour, stating that - “Larvae feed on organic matter and aquatic fungi. They occur in very large numbers at sewerage plants, where they assist in breaking down fungal mats that clog filtration systems. Likewise, they keep domestic drains from clogging with fungi.”
These little flies therefore play a very useful role around human habitation. Take a moment to look closely at these beautiful little creatures. They serve a very useful purpose and deserve to be spared from pesticides. These and many other small creatures are indicators of environmental health and are an important part of the necessary diversity around us.