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Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Black Soldier Fly



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Image Credit: William S. from Glen Burnie, MD
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The loud buzzing and large size of the Black Soldier Fly tend to bring 'wasp' to mind, but despite its appearance, it does not sting.



Updated: 01/26/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
A Black Soldier Fly is a dead-ringer for a wasp, but it is harmless. The robust size and strong wings make it more conspicuous than house flies, but it is indeed a part of that family. Long black antennae do not bend or have an 'elbow' joint and the eyes are wide and round. Legs are black and yellow, and the tip of its abdomen tapers to a point that just starts to look like a stinger. If its wings are spread apart, it is possible to see two medium-sized spots that look like window panes. They almost appear clear or transparent, but might also be yellow, white, or green in color.

The Black Soldier Fly is fond of moist areas. Animal feces and manure are popular places to find one zipping about. Despite hanging out on around sewage and feces, this fly does not transmit disease. It does not bite either like some other large flies. Look for Black Solider Flies near piles of manure, or by compost and rotting vegetation. It is considered somewhat beneficial to have around in that it tends to keep house fly populations in check by dominating fly nursery locations.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Insect antennae icon
Flying insect icon
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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Diptera
        Family: Stratiomyidae
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          Genus: Hermetia
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            Species: illucens
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Hermetia illucens
Category: Fly or Mosquito
Size (Adult; Length): 15mm to 20mm (0.59" to 0.78")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; yellow; white
Descriptors: yellow and black legs; fly; wasp mimic; black wings; flying; long antennae; black; white spot on abdomen; purple; sheen; window; see-through abdomen; clear spot on body
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 15mm (0.6in) and 20mm (0.8in)
Lo: 15mm
Md: 17.5mm
Hi: 20mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
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Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Black Soldier Fly may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Black Soldier Fly. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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