In this article, we look at the green soldier fly, its habitat, what it eats, whether it is harmful or useful for humans, and more.
Soldier flies have countless benefits; they are an excellent protein source, great feed for poultry farms, and a great tool for effective organic waste management.
While black soldier flies are commonly known by most people, their green-striped cousins are just as good as composters and animal feeders.
In this article, we will look at the green soldier flies and their benefits.
What Are Green Soldier Flies?
Green soldier flies (Hermetia illucens) belong to the Stratiomyidae family.
There are over 250 species of soldier flies in North America and around 2,500 species worldwide.
They can be identified by the presence of green bands on their black bodies.
You can also notice some unique features like short antennae and round eyes that will help you identify them better.
Adult soldier flies show an average growth rate of 0.31 to 0.47 inches.
They might look like bees, but these flies do not possess a stinger. You can spot them flying around in moist, damp, and wet environments.
They are considered excellent pollinators. Their common name is broad centurions.
Differences Between Green and Black Soldier Flies
As the name suggests, black soldier flies have shiny black bodies.
The green soldier flies are also black, but you can find lime-green colored stripes on their bodies.
You can differentiate between the male and female green soldier flies by the color of their stripes.
The males have bronze-green colored stripes, whereas the females have metallic green ones.
Green soldier flies are crucial pollinators.
They fly around from flower to flower, searching for sweet nectar, which is their primary source of nourishment.
Green soldier flies have hairy bodies. However, you will not find any bristles on them.
What Does A Green Soldier Fly Eat?
As mentioned above, adult flies are excellent pollinators. These flies visit various flowers to get nectar, and by doing so, they promote cross-pollination.
Also, both green and black soldier fly larvae are excellent consumers of decaying organic matter.
They happily feed on rotting fruits, animal waste, food waste, discarded grains, decayed logs, algae, and more.
In fact, people often add soldier fly larvae to their compost bins to promote efficient and organic waste control.
Where Do Green Soldier Flies Live?
Green soldier flies are found in abundant numbers across North America, including California, New York, Utah, Iowa, Kansas, Florida, and many other states.
You will also find them in many European regions, like Greece, Ireland, Italy, Austria, and more.
These insects prefer to live in damp, moist, and wet environments. Adult flies prefer to be around flowering areas to access nectar.
The ideal habitat for these tiny flies is near wooded areas, hedgerows, wet meadows, moist forests, and gardens.
Life Cycle of A Green Soldier Fly
Green soldier flies undergo the complete process of metamorphosis.
They have four life stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult fly. Let us take a look at their detailed life cycle:
After mating, the female green soldier fly searches for suitable spots to lay her eggs.
She often selects a spot with a damp, wet, or moist environment, which is ideal for the larvae to grow.
The availability of food sources plays a crucial role in determining her nesting region.
Most species of soldier flies lay hundreds of eggs at a time.
These eggs will hatch in a few days. However, the time differs according to factors like temperature, humidity, pH, and region.
Once the eggs hatch, the food that the mother lays her eggs near helps promote larval growth.
Green soldier fly larvae keep consuming food constantly until they become big enough to start pupating.
Soldier fly larvae have a monstrous appetite. The green soldier fly larvae mostly consume dead and decaying plant matter, like rotten fruits, vegetation, leaves, and more.
They continue the feeding spree for a few days until they attain a specific size.
Fascinatingly, soldier beetle larvae also consume organic food waste. They break down this organic material into manure, which can later be used for agriculture.
These larvae can molt multiple times to keep up with rapid larval growth due to constant feeding.
The larvae stop feeding when they reach a specific size, as mentioned earlier.
After that, the larva leaves the eating station and shifts to a dry, secure spot to start pupating.
The green soldier fly larvae overwinter as pupae before emerging as adult flies in the spring.
During this time, they survive on the fat reserves built during the earlier feeding stages.
After overwintering as pupae, healthy adults start emerging at the start of spring.
As an adult, the green soldier fly only survives for a few days.
During this time, you can spot them flying around flowers for nectar. Also, soon after mating and laying eggs, these insects die.
How Long Do Green Soldier Fly Live?
Adult green soldier flies do not live for long. Soon after hatching, they start mating, and after laying eggs, these insects usually die.
Of course, these insects can die early if they are attacked by parasitic wasp larvae.
Do They Bite?
Green soldier flies might look like bees or wasps, but they do not have stingers. Hence, they are unable to bite or sting humans.
They might create a loud buzzing noise at times, which can be irritating.
Otherwise, they are gentle creatures who are focused on mating and laying eggs.
Are They Poisonous/Venomous?
No, green soldier flies are not poisonous or venomous in nature. Since the larvae eat organic waste, people usually consider them disease carriers.
Although the insects are not known as disease carriers, these flies can be mechanical carriers of various pathogens.
Are They Harmful or Beneficial to Humans?
As mentioned above, these flies can carry certain disease-causing pathogens with them. However, you cannot ignore the countless benefits of these soldier flies.
These insects are an excellent way to promote organic waste decomposition.
The larvae will eat almost anything and everything you throw at them, including food waste, discarded grains, manure, and more.
Also, soldier flies are excellent protein sources and are considered edible insects in many regions of the world.
They can even be used as animal feed on poultry farms.
Due to the traits mentioned above, people have started setting up soldier fly farms to enjoy the perks.
How To Get Rid of Green Soldier Fly?
A soldier fly cannot sting, but it can carry harmful diseases into your home. Having too many of them around in an uncontrolled environment can be dangerous.
Here are a few tips and tricks to keep these insects at bay:
- These insects are attracted to moist and wet surfaces with food and plant waste. Keep your house clean at all costs and avoid keeping garbage in the bin for a long time. Organic waste will instantly attract the females to lay eggs.
- Keep the compost piles clean, and do not let a lot of garbage accumulated in one place for many days.
- Green soldier flies are also attracted to plant matter like rotten fruits, dead leaves, and more. Keep your garden clean from such things to prevent these insects from entering.
- If there are a high number of flies in the house, consider using a pyrethrum space spray like CB 80 Pyrethrin aerosol.
Interesting Facts About Green Soldier Fly
The above sections contain all the necessary information about the green soldier fly. However, there are a few interesting points that you might have missed in this article. Let us take a look at them:
- The heads of green soldier flies are hairless. However, if you take a closer look, you will see that they have big hairy eyes.
- You identify the male and the female by the difference in body color. The males have a bronze-green body color, while the females have a metallic green body.
- Green soldier flies are also commonly known as broad centurion flies.
Green soldier flies are tiny insects that are highly useful for organic waste management.
They might look like bees, but they do not possess a stinger and are harmless to humans.
However, being in constant contact with food wastes, these insects can be pathogen carriers.
Use the tricks mentioned in the article to remove them from your home and garden. Thank you for reading the article.
Is soldier fly compost good?
Composting with Black Soldier Flies is efficient because it can consume all kinds of biodegradable matter quickly.
Information on this method is now readily available, and many companies use them for waste disposal and animal feed.
They can be difficult to eradicate from worm farms, but finding the right balance between worms and flies or a suitable location can help.
Are soldier fly maggots good for compost?
Soldier fly larvae are useful in breaking down green materials and household garbage, as well as reducing the smell and disease in areas where animal waste is stored.
They can also be used as a source of protein for chicken feed.
To encourage soldier fly larvae in your compost pile, keep green material near the top and water the pile more than usual to maintain moisture levels.
How to build a black soldier fly compost bin?
First, take a bin and cut holes into one of the narrow sides for a gutter or pipe to sit at a 45-degree angle.
Drill holes along the top for soldier flies to enter and lay their eggs, with cardboard scraps suspended inside for the eggs to hatch into larvae.
Use hook-and-loop tape as a barrier to prevent prepupae from escaping, and the gutter or pipe should be sealed in place with silicon.
Finally, attach a 5-gallon collection bucket to the end of the gutter or pipe.
What is the disadvantage of BSF?
The black soldier fly is disadvantageous for biodegradation in temperate climates due to its need for a warm environment.
The duration of its life cycle also varies depending on temperature and diet.
However, using feeds based on black soldier fly larvae in aquaculture can provide additional marketing opportunities for farmers who have customers opposed to fishmeal in aquaculture feeds.
While black soldier flies are becoming increasingly popular, many of our readers get confused when they encounter the strikingly beautiful green soldier fly.
Below are a few emails from some of our guests asking us to help identify this creature buzzing around their compost bins and in their gardens.
Letter 1 – Green Soldier Fly
Subject: Green Soldier Fly Geographic location of the bug: Lake County Illinois Date: 06/18/2019 Time: 07:41 PM EDT Your letter to the bugman: This was a 1st sighting if this for me, and I believe it to be a Green Soldier Fly based on what I saw on Bugguide.net. it was a bit longer than a centimeter, and seemed to hang around me for a while, while I was working in a flower yard. How you want your letter signed: Karin Dear Karin, This is indeed a Green Soldier Fly, and based on this BugGuide image, we believe it is Odontomyia cincta. Your images are awesome. She is quite the poser.
Letter 2 – Green Soldier Fly: Male Hedriodiscus binotatus or Odontomyia cincta???
Subject: Flourescent Green Bee Fly? Geographic location of the bug: Kansas Date: 07/18/2019 Time: 03:40 PM EDT Your letter to the bugman: Hi! This bug is truly flourescent green. The head appeared to be orangish in color and does not match with any of the images I’ve found online as it is opposite the coloring of sweat bees, and doesn’t match the orchid bees. How you want your letter signed: Flourescent Green Bee Fly Finder Dear Flourescent Green Bee Fly Finder, This fluorescent green fly is actually a Soldier Fly. There are several green genera with numerous similar looking species. We believe your Soldier Fly might be a male Hedriodiscus binotatus based on this BugGuide image. Males have larger eyes with no space between them. We would not discount that it might be a male Odontomyia cincta based on this BugGuide image.
Letter 3 – Green Soldier Fly
Subject: Bee? Geographic location of the bug: Northeast NE. Date: 07/25/2019 Time: 05:58 PM EDT Your letter to the bugman: Hi, I found this “bee” on the leaves of my rose bush while trying to figure out what’s been munching leaves. It’s bright lime green just like the photo, almost half an inch long and has a rather flat shaped abdomen with cool black designs. Not metallic like a sweat bee, if it is indeed a bee, but can’t find any info or pix that match. Thank you, Lois How you want your letter signed: Lois Colvin Dear Lois, This is not a Bee. It is a Soldier Fly and we have identified it as Hedriodiscus binotatus thanks to images posted on BugGuide. Thank you! First time I’ve seen one in the 17 yrs since moving to NE.