Moth Flies or Who is that Creepy Guy in the Men's Room?

Posted by David Moskowitz on October 16, 2009 at 7:32 PM

The other title of this post is "Oh Shit, It's somewhere in my house and I'm damn glad my wife wasn't home when it got loose and flew away!"

I've been trying to find a moth fly for a few weeks now. They are really small, really cool fuzzy looking flies (Psychodidae) that have broad rounded wings and resemble moths. Since the first time I saw one, I've found them to be really interesting despite a rather disgusting ecology. The best way to find them is to look in warm places where there are drains. The larva feed in the gunk that clogs up drains, hence their other common name: drain flies (or sewage gnats).  One of the most reliable places are public restrooms that have floor drains. For example, I've seen them a number of times at Bally's Fitness in the men's locker room where there are quite a few perpetually wet floor drains and in various public restrooms at highway rest stops. I've even been lucky enough to have them in my bathroom at home from time to time, but not recently since we Draino'ed the sink... I guess that has got to stop. I mean which would you rather have, the inconvienence of a clogged sink or drain flies? Seems like a no-brainer too me.

Here is some info on their life history from Cornell: The drain flies may go through the life cycle in 1 to 3 weeks, and the adults can live for about 2 weeks after emerging.  Eggs are laid in irregular masses in such places as water traps in plumbing fixtures, around built in sinks, garbage disposals, or anywhere moist decaying organic matter occurs.  The larvae and pupae are aquatic or semi-aquatic, living in the decomposing film of organic matter. The larvae live in moist organic matter and feed principally on algae.  The muck of gelatinous material that accumulates on the sides of drains and overflow pipes in houses may provide suitable breeding sites.  Some species are able to survive hot water and soap.

So the other day, I was lucky enough to find one on the wall in a bathroom at Panera Bread. Fortunately, I had my reuseable coffee cup with me and after spilling out the coffee, I was easily able to corral it into the cup. And, even more luckily, I wasn't seen by anyone, because even I know that trying to explain that "I was just catching a drain fly"  in the men's room probably wouldn't go over too well in today's politically correct world...take a look at this fly, it's REALLY cool. Unfortunately, I only have this one photo because just after I snapped this picture it flew away to somewhere in the house and despite a rather intense search I couldn't find it. But, I can only hope it wasa fertilized female and in a short period of time, the Moskowitz household will be blessed by a few more to photograph!!!!!    


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Reply Maury V.
2:47 PM on October 19, 2009 
I'm sure we could find you some other specimines to examine if you could let me know how I can lure them out of the drain.
Let me know.
Reply Patrick
3:49 PM on October 28, 2009 
They are very common here in my work bathroom.
Reply Lola
10:21 AM on November 28, 2009 
you seem to be spending a lot of time in public restrooms, maybe you need to make an apointment with a Dr. to get your "drains" checked?
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5:56 AM on April 19, 2010 
That sounds scary. But did it actually eat humans? The answer is maybe. Haast's Eagle most likely evolved to prey on moas, as depicted in the artist's conception above. Large flightless moas inhabited New Zealand prior to the arrival of humans and became extinct braindumps oracle soon afterward. If a Haast's Eagle could kill a moa, most likely it had the ability to kill humans as well. That would seem to confirm an ancient Maori legend about a large raptor that could eat humans.
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1:32 AM on April 27, 2010 
Catocala is a genus of noctuid moths commonly known as Underwings. (A few closely related genera cbest test are sometimes called Underwings as well, but usually the term is synonymous with this genus.) Most species have brightly coloured underwings, orange, red, or white. The ccp test genus name is a combination of two Greek words, kato behind, and kalos beautiful. The bright hindwings are not visible at rest, being hidden cdl test by the dull forewings, but they help the moth avoid predators such as birds if they are disturbed during the day (Stevens 2005). The genus occurs in Eurasia and North America. Due to their variety of cen test colors and species diversity, Underwings are popular with collectors of lepidoptera. Larvae (caterpillars) of most species feed on the foliage of trees and shrubs.
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10:35 PM on May 2, 2010 
I've got a boat load of these pain in the butt flies you are more than welcome too. Let me know where to send them or you can come and get them yourself.
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3:53 PM on November 7, 2013 
Came across your post while google-imaging moth flies. It's really hard to explain to people why they are my favorite flies. Theyre just SO cute. Even though theyre flies.
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