Saturday, August 25, 2012

"Attracted to light"

August 9th, Campbell River. 9:45 PM. The sunset had faded and we had returned to our motel room in the dark. We settled down to read until bedtime. Then a tiny speck of white wandered across the table in front of Laurie. He called me over; at first I couldn't see what he was pointing at. It was so tiny, almost transparent, blending in perfectly to the blond wood tabletop.

Once I'd seen it, capturing it was easy; it walked on its own straight into my little bottle. I went for the camera.

Now there was a problem. The motel didn't come equipped with movable lighting. Nor had I brought my usual lamps. And flash with a white bug just doesn't work. But I remembered that Laurie had a tiny dollar-store flashlight; maybe if I got it close enough to the critter, it would work.

Again, my subject was co-operative. Released from captivity and deposited on a paper towel in front of the flashlight, it walked right up to the glass, and sat on the rim.

The rim is 2 mm. wide, which makes the fly about 2.25 mm long.

Such a pale, hairy little beastie! With black feet and dotted-line antennae.

It's a moth fly, in the Family Psychodidae, subfamily Psychodinae. I've looked through all BugGuide's photos and didn't find one with this wing pattern, but everything else matches.

I have found one of this family at home in Delta, but it was much darker:

The same size, shape, and hairiness. The same cute antennae.

Interesting notes from BugGuide:

  • Moth flies (Psychodinae): adults ... are attracted to light;
  • adults feed in polluted water and on flower nectar;
  • ... very weak fliers, covering only a few feet at a time in short erratic flights. Outside, they can be blown considerable distances by the wind.
  • They lay their eggs in the gelatinous film that coats the inside of drains, especially in bathtubs and showers;
  • the larvae feed on algae, fungi and bacteria in sewage and organic sludge.


Reminder: Rock Flipping Day is Sunday, September 9th. Instructions, history, etc.


  1. Anonymous12:57 pm

    Sorry about being VERY tardy on this, but your top two photos look a lot like Psychoda sigma (looking for that name on the forums will give you clearer photos); the species was originally described from western Washington state.

    1. Thank you! And yes, with the name, I found very clear photos, both on Wikipedia and INaturalist.


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