Gavin Dann of Alexandra asks :-

What did sandflies live on BC (Before Campers)?

Trevor Crosby, an entomologist with Landcare Research, responded.

In short, in times BC (before campers) our biting species of sandflies gained a blood meal from birds. The flesh just above the scaly feet was a favourite place. Sandflies on the seashore zone probably also used seals as a protein source.

In the mid-1970s I was involved in a study of biting rates of Fiordland crested penguins at Jacksons Bay, South Westland (the sandflies transmit a malaria-like disease to the penguins). The sandflies definitely preferred the penguins to the humans nearby. Away from the penguins, I got bitten; when I stood near to the penguins they flew past me.

In New Zealand we use the term "sandflies" for the biting insects that in other english-speaking parts of the world are referred to as "blackflies" or "buffalo gnats". We are fortunate our species, of the genus Austrosimulium, do not transit diseases affecting humans such as the nematode worm causing river-blindness (onchoceriasis).