Currently viewing the category: "Soldier Flies"
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Large ant/wasplike bug with transparent section of abdomen
Location:  Cambridge, MA
September 12, 2010 4:50 pm
We found this bug in our apartment in Cambridge, MA, a couple of days ago. Behaviorally, it was very attracted to light, much like a fly, but is shaped very strangely for a fly. The body is about 3/4 inch long. Once we got a good look, we also noticed that the top section of the insects’ abdomen is completely transparent! Very strange!
Any idea what this could be?
Best,
Signature:  Adena

Black Soldier Fly, AKA Window Fly

Hi Adena,
Though BugGuide refers the common name Window Fly for members of the family Scenopinidae, Charles Hogue in his book Insects of the Los Angeles Basin calls the Black Soldier Fly,
Hermetia illucens, a Window Fly because of the clear areas in the abdomen.  According to BugGuide it is a:  “Large soldier fly, all black with bright white tarsi. Underneath, first abdominal segment has clear areas. Wings have purplish sheen. Likely a wasp mimic, it buzzes loudly. In particular, it appears to mimic the Pipe-organ mud dauber…“.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Australian bug mating in Autumn
April 3, 2010
This pair of bugs is defying my attempts to identify them, The picture was taken in Eastern Australia south of Sydney in early autumn. There were many similar mating pairs visible. The female is 1 inch long and appears to have no wings. the male is winged but much smaller.
Bruce Terry, Sydney, Australia
Southern Highlands, NSW, Australia

Unknown Sexually Dimorphic Mating Flies from Australia

Dear Bruce,
Had your photo arrived two days earlier, our first reaction would have been that someone was playing a very good April Fool’s Day joke on us and we would have searched for evidence of photoshop tampering.  Our second thought was that this might be an accidental encounter between unrelated species, but the magnification revealed penetration barely visible under the wings of the male.  Your written account of the sighting also discounts the accidental encounter between unrelated species possibility.  These are flies, and there are species of flies that are wingless, but we don’t know of a species with such pronounced sexual dimorphism in which only the female is wingless.  This may take us hours of research that we could otherwise spend answering the increasing number of letters we are beginning to receive now that spring has arrived in the northern hemisphere.  We have opted for posting without an identification, leaving it as an announcement at the top of our homepage until we get a response with a correct identification.  Karl has returned from Costa Rica and he is wonderful at internet research.  Have you any additional photos from other angles?
Back in January 2007, we posted a photo from Australia of a Wingless Fly that was identified as a female Boreoides subulatus
in the subfamily Chiromyzinae and this is probably the same subfamily, so we will be creating a new fly subcategory now that there are two postings on our site.

Dear Daniel, Thank you for your very prompt response, and for the star billing on the website!
I attach another photo (not exactly the same bug, that one had disappeared) but the same species, this time with no attendant male.
It shows more clearly the foreparts which might help with identification.
Thank you for your help with this.
Best regards
Bruce Terry

Wingless Australian Fly: subfamily Chiromyzinae

Hi again Bruce,
Thanks so much for the high quality additional photo.  This should assist any Diptera experts that view our site.

Update:
April 4, 2010
Mirth provided us with a comment, though the link did not show.  We did a web search of the information she provided, and we found this Csiro website.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

What is this?
February 16, 2010
We live in an apartment in Los Angeles, CA. It is February 16th 2010, This is one of third of the same bug we have found in our apartment. All of them located around 2-10 feet of the living room closet. We found them on the ground. We have hardwood laminate. They are slow crawlers, and act dead when touched. Could you please tell me what this is and where they are coming from?
Thank you,
Martin A
Los Angeles, CA

Black Soldier Fly Pupa

Hi Martin,
This looks like the pupa of a Black Soldier Fly or Window Fly, Hermetia illucens.  We get numerous reports of countless Black Soldier Fly larvae in compost piles.  If there is a nearby compost pile, the larvae may be migrating to your apartment.  The Black Soldier Flies are neither dangerous nor pests, and according to BugGuide:  “
larvae compete with house flies in manure, compost piles, etc., and may thus be beneficial. Adults are harmless and not known to carry any human disease.”  The Black Soldier Fly Blog has some good photos, and there is an entertaining video on You Tube of an adult emerging from the pupa.

Black Soldier Fly Pupa

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

weird bug/larva in vermicompost
July 27, 2009
I’m thrilled to be new mom to a worm factory since the original owners are moving out of state. I just found some weird bugs that I thought may be a type of beetle larva, but I really have no idea. If they won’t harm my worms, I’ll put them back in the composter. They seem to be segmented, dark gray-brown, no legs or discernable head but do travel in one direction from the pointy part (that looks like the tip of a fine ballpoint pen) by moving the little hairs that cover them. There are more hairs on the bottomside. They’re pretty big, about an inch long and quarter of an inch wide. Kind of creepy. but I love bugs and would love to know what the heck they are. Thanks for your help.
wormfarmer
vermicompost bin in pasadena, ca

Soldier Fly Larvae

Soldier Fly Larvae

Dear Wormfarmer,
You have Soldier Fly Larvae, Hermetia illucens, a species Charles Hogue refers to as a Window Fly in his book Insects of the Los Angeles Basin.  The following is an excerpt from the Oregon State University Garden Hints website and the quotes are from Cindy Wise, compost specialist volunteer coordinator with the Lane County office of the Oregon State University Extension Service.  “Soldier fly larvae are voracious consumers of nitrogen-dominant decaying materials, such as kitchen food scraps and manures.
‘Don’t worry, soldier flies don’t usually invade houses, unless your compost pile is close to your house,’ said Wise. ‘They almost exclusively populate compost bins or sheet mulch compost piles and manure piles,’ she said. ‘In the southern United States they are being utilized to reduce hog manure, as they can consume up to 30 tons of hog manure in two days.’
Soldier fly females lay eggs on the surface of nitrogen-rich material that is exposed. So, if you want to avoid having these large flies and their maggots in your compost pile, make sure you have enough leaves, dry grass, shredded paper and other organic “brown” material in the pile to cover the nitrogen food sources by at least two to four inches. Be sure to bury food scraps deeply in the pile and cover them well.
You can further discourage these flies by putting window screen over any holes in the bin and gluing it down with a waterproof caulking (like an exterior household caulk) on the inside of the bin to help exclude the flies in their egg laying stage.
They often thrive in worm bins, as well as compost bins, where they may out-compete the worms for food.
‘In a worm bin, bury food scraps down at least six inches for the worms and let the flies eat what is on the surface,” said Wise. “The flies don’t eat the worms or their eggs so they aren’t predators of the worms.’ …
Wise and her colleagues are experimenting with soldier flies in compost bins and then analyzing the resulting compost to see what differences there may be in the nutritional content of the compost.
The maggots are known to break down organic material in the pile so it can further decompose. And the flies inoculate the compost with beneficial bacteria from other sources.
”  In our opinion, you should return the Soldier Fly Larvae to the worm bin.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Australian bug
Hi
These pictures are of a bug which was found in my courtyard in the Blue Mountains, Australia. It was only about 2 cm in length. I have been trying to keep a record of the different wildlife which live in my backyard, something which started last year as a school project, but have been unsuccessful in identifying this creature. Can you help? Best Wishes
Petah

Hi Petah,
We have tried to identify this Wingless Fly, but sadly, we had no luck. We are checking if Eric Eaton has any clues. Here is Eric’s revelation: “I have no idea what the wingless fly is, but it would appear it once ‘did’ have wings, and they were torn off at some point. That is a pity, as wing venation patterns are of the greatest help in identifying flies!”

Update: (09/20/2007) forwarded through Eric Eaton
I have a second question, how to get in contact with the people from “Whats that bug”? They had a pic of a Unknown Mutilated Wingless Australian Fly (01/13/2007) Australian bug And this turns out to be a Stratiomyidae, Boreoides subulatus, the females are always wingsless and it looks not even close to something we know here in the USA as a strat. It is out of the strange subfamily Chiromyzinae and this is an only Southern continent group. Only one species is introduced to Cal as a pest… So maybe you can email the people and give them the answer to their question. Also further down they have an Acrocerid as a Bombyliidae and a suspected “Mallota” which is a Merodon equestris. Looking forward to see your book! Cheers
martin

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination