If you have ever been fortunate enough to visit New Zealand and fish for the trout for which the country has become famous, you will know all about sandflies.

These little bastards are very common in the remote areas which often offer the very best fishing and they can drive you nuts.

As a group, the “sandfly” is a colloquial name for many kinds of biting, blood sucking member of the order Diptera which includes, among others, the midges. The New Zealand sandfly is a little black fly which is a member of the genus Austrosimulium. The Maori call these things “namu.”

Of the 13 species of sandfly in New Zealand only two of them make a nuisance of themselves by biting and sucking blood. The bites can itch like hell and made quite an impression on Captain James Cook in the late eighteenth century when he came across them at Dusky Sound. This is how he decribed them: “the most mischievous animal here is the small black sandfly, which are exceedingly numerous, wherever they light they cause a swelling and such intolerable itching that it is not possible to refrain from scratching and at last ends in ulcers like the small pox.”

The biting sandflies consume blood for the same reason as biting midges and mosquitos – so that they can make little babies to carry inflicting misery on poor sods like us. And, again in common with the other two groups, it is only the female who consumes blood.

Still, we can´t hold it against them. They are only doing their job of perpetuating their own kind and making their way in the world.

Such is life.

sandfly bites