Author(s): Douglas Craig et al
Known in New Zealand as ‘sandflies’ or ‘te namu’ and elsewhere in the world mainly as ‘black flies’, Simuliidae are iconic New Zealand insects. Virtually every New Zealander has been bitten by female simuliids, as have many overseas tourists. Worldwide, simuliids are notorious for their disease transmission, particularly of river blindness in Africa and South America. New Zealand simuliids are not known to transmit any diseases to humans, but many people react badly to bites of species to which they have no previous exposure. Simuliids of New Zealand belong to the genus Austrosimulium known only from New Zealand, Tasmania, and mainland Australia. Simuliid larvae require running water and in New Zealand are more or less ubiquitous, occurring in almost all running water habitats. There are 19 species of Austrosimulium in New Zealand but only three species found here are serious biters of humans and it is only the females that bite; they bite to get nutrients to produce eggs. In this Fauna keys are provided for larvae, pupae, adults, and ecological habitats. All known stages are described and illustrated for each species, together with information on their bionomics and biogeography. There are 72 full page colour plates and a total of 540 figures. Molecular analysis indicated that New Zealand Austrosimulium arrived by dispersal about 5 million years ago.