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Black Soldier Fly

Hermetia illucens

The Black Soldier Fly, or Hermetia illucens is a common and widespread fly of the family Stratiomyidae, whose larvae are common detritivores in compost heaps. Larvae are also sometimes found in association with carrion, and have significant potential for use in forensic entomology.

Black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) may be used in manure management, for house fly control and reduction in manure volume. Mature larvae and prepupae raised in manure management operations may also be used to supplement animal feeds.

Larvae are sold as feeders for owners of herptiles and tropical fish, or as composting grubs. They store high levels of calcium for future pupation which is beneficial to herptiles.

Black soldier fly eggs take approximately four days to hatch and are typically deposited in crevices or on surfaces above or adjacent to decaying matter such as manure or compost. The larvae range in size from 1⁄8 - 3⁄4 inch (3-19 mm). Although they can be stored at room temperature for several weeks, their longest shelf life is achieved at 50-60 F.

The adult fly, which measures about 16 mm (5/8 inch), is a mimic, very close in size, color, and appearance to the organ pipe mud dauber wasp and its relatives. The mimicry of this particular kind of wasp is especially enhanced in that the fly's antennae are elongated and wasp-like, the fly's hind tarsi are pale, as are the wasp's, and the fly has two small transparent 'windows' in the basal abdominal segments that make the fly appear to have a narrow 'wasp waist'. The adult soldier fly has no functioning mouthparts; it spends its time searching for mates and reproducing. The adult's life span is 5 to 8 days.