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TaxonomyPhlebotomus papatasi was the first sandfly to be described. It was originally described:
- in 1786 as Bibio papatasi Scopoli
- from near Milan in Italy (Lewis, 1982)
- Small scaly fly only about 3mm long.
- Male characterised by the species-specific morphology of the claspers used to hold the female during mating.
- Only the female has a proboscis for cutting mammalian skin and sucking the subcutaneous blood released from capillaries.
P. papatasi resembles a dainty, tawny version of the moth flies or owl flies (also in the family Psychodidae) that frequent damp bathrooms and outhouses in Europe. All hop out of the way if disturbed, but only the sandfly usually sucks blood and rests with its pair of wings half open, not fully open.Phlebotomine sandflies are not usually found on tropical beaches, where small biting midges (ceratopogonid sandflies) can be a nuisance.