Hermetia illucens

Geographic Range

Black soldier flies are found on every continent except Antarctica. They are endemic to the tropical and warm temperate regions of the Western Hemisphere, dispersing to the continents on the Eastern Hemisphere by human interactions. (May, 1961; Rozkosny, 1982)


Black soldier flies can be found in a variety of urban, rural, and forested environments. Adults are often seen resting on the walls and windows of houses, on tree trunks, on garden plants in built-up residential areas, and farms where livestock and poultry are located. The black soldier fly has been found laying its eggs on decomposing organic matter and in the cracks in the front of bee hives. The larvae in front of the beehives hatch after 4-6 days, feeding on the honey and waste materials from the hives. Pupation happens for a duration of 2-20 days if the black soldier fly larvae survive bee attacks. They are even able to destroy weak bee hives. The larvae live in a wide range of decaying plant and animal materials, and they are terrestrial scavengers. H. illucens is a hardy species, it has been reported that a population was found exploiting resources provided by tuna remains, despite the remains being preserved in 10% formaldehyde. (May, 1961; Rozkosny, 1982)

The black soldier fly is a eurythermal species which can tolerate wide extremes of temperature. Black soldier flies become active in the morning when temperatures reach 25 degrees Celsius. Mating occurs in the day when temperatures reach 27 degrees Celsius in midair. Females lay their eggs early to mid-afternoon when temperatures are between 27.5-37.5 degrees Celsius. Humidity at 30-90% supports mating and oviposition. Eggs and larvae develop at 27 degrees Celsius, but can also tolerate a moderate range of conditions (egg laying). Development of H. illucens is inhibited significantly at 20 degrees Celsius. The duration for the development of each life stage is shortened at high temperatures versus low temperatures. (Li, et al., 2016; Lord, et al., 1994; May, 1961; Rozkosny, 1982; Sheppard, et al., 2002)

  • Range elevation
    Unknown to Unknown m
    to ft
  • Average elevation
    Unknown m
  • Range depth
    Unknown to Unknown m
    to ft
  • Average depth
    Unknown m

Physical Description

The Black Soldier Fly is a large fly that has a wasp-like appearance. The head is small and narrower than the body, with the eyes broadly separated. The head has a black, shiny appearance with a median white stripe on the lower part of the face, with a similar stripe on each side of the eye margin. Antennae are dark brown to black, protruding directly in the middle of the head from a lateral view, with black hairy basal segments. The antennae are 2x the size of the head of the fly, eight flagellomere segments, the last segment is equal in size to the other segments combined, and has a flat appearance that narrows to a point. They have a sponge-like mouthpart typical in non-biting flies used to lap up liquids. (Oliveira, et al., 2016; Rozkosny, 1982; Tomberlin, et al., 2002)

Like other dipterans (true flies), the thorax is the main part of the body, where only one pair of tinted brown wings are located, with the second pair being reduced to small protrusions of the thorax called halteres. White in color, Black Soldier Fly halteres aid in flight coordination. The thorax has a black, sheen-like color and is divided into three separate, visible sections each with their own pair of legs. Starting anteriorly, the sections are called: the prothorax, mesothorax, and metathorax. Legs are mainly black except the feet-like tarsi are white, with the last tarsal segment slightly darker than the others. The basal half of the hind tibia is also white. Thoracic hairs consist of short, appressed silvery-white hairs and longer, more erect black hairs. (Oliveira, et al., 2016; Rozkosny, 1982)

The long, slender abdomen has five visible segments. Dorsally, segments are dull black, except the posterior margin of segment 1 and all of segment 2 having a pair of translucent white oblong spots, and segment 5 being reddish-brown. Ventrally, the posterior margin of segment 1 is also translucent. Segment 2 is semitransparent as well, except the yellowish apical portion. Abdominal hairs are black and white, with short, appressed silvery-white hair patches dorsally on segments 3 and 4, and long, white hairs at the base of the abdomen. (Oliveira, et al., 2016; Rozkosny, 1982)

The larvae of the Black Soldier Fly is earth-brown, their hairs and setae being golden-yellow in color. The 6th instar is similar in size to adults ranging from 16 to 17mm in length and 2.8 to 3.8 in width. Dorsally, the head capsule is long, narrow, and smaller than the body. The larvae possess a well-developed labrum and mandibular-maxillary complex. The mandibular-maxillary complex swings vertically when the larvae are feeding, with the purpose of gathering fragments of decaying organic matter. The head is hardened with sclerotization and can be retracted into the thorax. The thorax is composed of 3 segments and the abdomen is composed of 8 segments. The anterior segments of the larvae are densely covered with hair and cilia from the dorsal view and the first segment is covered with spiracles located laterally around the body. The anus appears as a longitudinal slit at the ventral half of abdominal segment 8, with scalloped edges and short conical spines. (Kim, et al., 2010; Oliveira, et al., 2016; Rozkosny, 1982)

There is sexual dimorphism between male and female black soldier flies, with the female being larger on average than males. In addition, the extent of the white pattern of the female head and the size of the white spots on the female abdomen are particularly varied. The genitalia of male Black Soldier Flies, the aedeagal complex, are very slender and dilated in the basal portion. The genitalia of the females, while mostly internal, does have external features called terminalia. Female terminalia are of the long type: cerci long and segmented in two. The genital furca are subtriangular, pointed proximally, with a large median aperture and unusually broad, leaf-shaped posterolateral projections. (Oliveira, et al., 2016; Rozkosny, 1982)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • sexes shaped differently
  • Range mass
    0.220 (low) g
    0.01 (low) oz
  • Range length
    12 to 20 mm
    0.47 to 0.79 in
  • Average length
    15 mm
    0.59 in
  • Range wingspan
    8 to 14.8 mm
    0.31 to 0.58 in
  • Range basal metabolic rate
    Unknown (low) cm3.O2/g/hr


Black soldier flies go through a complete metamorphosis life cycle, with an egg, larva (maggot), pupa, and an adult stage of development. The life history of the Black soldier fly varies greatly, depending on numerous factors such as biogeographic location, being raised in the wild, versus in captivity, weather, and resource limitations. (Li, et al., 2016; May, 1961; Sheppard, et al., 2002)

Eggs hatch in 5 days in season at room temperature. The egg changes to be translucent and soft two hours before the larvae emerges. The larvae have all their anatomical features fully formed and developed at emergence from the chorion (insect eggshell), which lasts about 10 minutes. The hole torn in the chorion is created by the larvae’s maxillary hooks, with movements of the head and body assisting in exiting the egg. The translucent, papery, empty egg collapses after the larvae exits. (May, 1961)

The larvae pass through six instars, larvae that have recently emerged from their eggs are opaque, creamy white, with a reddish-brown head. The appearances of the 1st to 4th instars are similar, with only size differences and some variation of the shape of the head. The 5th instar has a shagreened appearance that is greyish yellow in color a day or two after molting, with the full size of the larvae being reached at this point 11 days after egg emergence. Male larvae are about 17-18mm at full size and females are about 21-23mm in size. The 6th instar appears 18 days after egg emergence. The Larvae at this instar life phase are very dark, with longer, coarser pubescence as compared to the other instar life phases. The ocelli are prominent in this phase, and the head capsule is more sclerotized as well. The mouthparts become reduced and are immobile, with the larvae not feeding during the 6th instar life phase. (May, 1961)

Pupation takes place within the exoskeleton of the larvae. the total time between the pupal stage and adult emergence is about 8 days, with 4 phases of development: 1, larval-pupal apolysis, 2, cryptocephalic pupae, 3, phanerocepalic pupae, and 4, pharate adult. Pupation starts with the larvae finding a substrate in a cool, undisturbed environment. The abdomen folds 45 degrees ventrally and the cuticle gradually becomes opaque and sclerotized. This occurs in a dorsal-ventral direction, from the end of the abdomen to the head, a process called apolysis. This is the first stage of puparial development, called larval-pupal apolysi, and takes 4 to 6 hours to complete. The eye color changes from reddish to white or transparent when this occurs. (Barros-Cordeiro, et al., 2014; May, 1961)

The second phase, cryptocephalic pupa, features the formation of a hardened, opaque, and pigmented puparium. The phase retains almost all the features of the 6th larval instar. The Mandibular-maxillary complex separates from the larva and pupa and stays attached to the puparium inner wall. This event takes about 14 to 16 hours to complete the end of which starts the extroversion of the head and thoracic appendages. The third phase, phanerocephalic pupa, is when the extroversion and distinctness of the head, thorax, and abdomen of a pharate adult fly take place, taking about 12 to 16 hours to complete. (Barros-Cordeiro, et al., 2014)

The fourth and final phase, pharate adult, is the longest development phase, with the adult fully developed after 4.6 days and emerging after 6.6 days. It can be divided into 4 stages characterized by the change of eye coloration, this represents the maturation of adulthood. The 1st stage has yellowish eyes and develops head, thorax, abdomen, leg, and wing definition. It occurs between the 1st and 2nd day, and lasts about 17 to 22 hours. The 2nd stage has pinkish eyes, and develops the sutures of the thorax and abdomen. This occurs around the 2nd and 4th day and lasts about 1 to 1.5 days. The 3rd stage has red eyes, has the development of the T-shaped dorsal thoracic suture, antennae, hair, bristle, leg, and wing pigmentation. This starts around the 4th and 6th day and lasts between 1.5 and 2.1 days. The 4th and last stage has dark brown eyes, and the body of the adult totally formed and pigmented. This starts between the 6th and 8th days, with a duration of 1 to 1.5 days. All adults completely form after 6 days and adults start emerging from the pupa on the 8th day. (Barros-Cordeiro, et al., 2014)


The mating system of the Black soldier fly is polygynous, males will try to mate with multiple females, and the females usually mate once. Females need to only mate once to develop and oviposit (lay) all the eggs she’ll create in her life, however, females can mate again after oviposition, even though she won’t create any more fertile eggs. (Nakamura, et al., 2016; Samayoa, et al., 2016)

Mating begins 2 days after pupal emergence, with mating occurring in flight. Areas where mating occurs include places where larvae are present such as farms were poultry is raised, and along the edge of woods. Black soldier flies prefer to mate in wild environments near forest edges, and then females oviposit their eggs near resources. Males aggregate in wild environments where females are likely to travel for copulation, carving out territories that they defend from other male intruders. These territories the males defend are called lekks, and females are attracted to areas where there is a high volume of males present. (Sheppard, et al., 2002; Tomberlin and Sheppard, 2001)

Males rest on the surface of flora near these forested habitats, making the immediate resting area their lek territory. When another male approaches this resting area, the resting male will close and grapple with the intruder midair, vertically spiraling about a meter above the lek territory. Once reaching this height, one male returns to the resting floral spot and the other leaves the surrounding vicinity. The behavior was similar when a female approached the territory of a resting male, however, when the pair descend from the peak height of the resting spot, they were in copulatory behavior (in copula). (Tomberlin and Sheppard, 2001)

Female oviposition occurs 4 days after pupal emergence. The black soldier fly has been found ovipositing its eggs on the cracks and crevices of decomposing organic matter, in the cracks in the front of beehives, and in the holes of corrugated cardboard called flutes, one egg per flute hole, measured at 2 x 5 mm. The number of eggs per mated female range from 236-1,088 eggs, with most females averaging about 323-621 eggs. When females are near the end of gestation, eggs compose about 13-26% of their body weight. Eggs completely form inside the females 2 days after mating. After oviposition, females could mate again, but do not produce more eggs. Females survived a maximum of 9 days after oviposition. (Booth and Sheppard, 1984; May, 1961; Samayoa, et al., 2016; Sheppard, et al., 2002; Tomberlin, et al., 2002)

Sunlight is an important factor in mating success, mating doesn’t occur in low light intensity. Sunlight promotes greater fertility and larval emergence. The mating rate reaches 75% when sunlight reaches a certain threshold (>200 µmol m-2 s−1). Wavelengths between 450 and 700 nm are necessary for mating to occur. Water is also essential for adult black soldier flies to reproduce, dehydration reduces energy and as a result reduces the success of copulation. (Nakamura, et al., 2016; Tomberlin, et al., 2002)

  • Breeding interval
    Females lay 1 batch of eggs 2 days after mating
  • Breeding season
    Black soldier flies can breed year-round in the right climate, but most likely in the summer seasons of where they are found. The peak breeding months in the United States are May, June, July, August, and September.
  • Range eggs per season
    236 to 1,088
  • Average gestation period
    48 hours
  • Range time to independence
    After oviposition of egg, (low) minutes
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    48 hours
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    48 hours

Female black soldier flies engage in little parental investment. After laying her eggs in a safe, or resource rich environment, she never has contact with her offspring again. There is no parental investment among male flies. (May, 1961; Tomberlin, et al., 2002)


Generation cycles depend on the biogeographic region. Moderate temperate regions like Europe have one generation per year, warm temperate regions like the Southern United States has 3 generation cycles per year, and tropical regions like Argentina have an incessant generation cycle. The lifespan of the black soldier fly is long and complex when compared with other dipteran flies, developing from egg to adult in about 38 days in the wild with great variability depending on the ecosystem. Overwintering or a lack of diet can slow larval development. It is possible to take almost a year for the larvae to develop into an adult if it goes into diapause. (Li, et al., 2016; May, 1961; Sheppard, et al., 2002)

Documented life history traits of Black soldier flies raised in captivity describe the average lifespan of a fly and its estimated egg production. In one study, the lifespan of an individual fly from when it first emerges from egg to when it first reproduces was about 54.67 days, ranging from 53 to 58 days. This is a considerably longer lifespan than other Dipteran flies. Female black soldier flies in the study found the maximum age-specific fecundity of females was about 74.81 eggs at 55 days, and the maximum age-specific maternity of the females was 152.85 eggs at 53 days. The maximum longevity for adults was 18 days for males and 16 days for females. (Samayoa, et al., 2016)

  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    <1 (diapause) years
  • Range lifespan
    Status: captivity
    90 (male) (high) days
  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    56 (male) and 54 (female) (low) days
  • Typical lifespan
    Status: captivity
    67 to 74 (male and female) days
  • Average lifespan
    Status: captivity
    54.67 (male and female) days


Black soldier flies are a diurnal species that becomes active in the morning, and begins mating and oviposition behaviors at midday when lighting is at its brightest, which is necessary for successful mating and ovipositing fertile eggs. They become inactive at night, and poor lighting causes infertility of a population of black soldier flies. (May, 1961; Samayoa, et al., 2016; Sheppard, et al., 2002; Tomberlin, et al., 2002)

Black soldier flies are drawn to areas based on visual signals, tactile signals, and chemical cues. Lighting is important for successful lekk behavior, as it allows them to discriminate between others of their species, and whether they are male or female. About 91% of flies sampled by forest edge habitat were males looking for lekk territories to draw in females. Black Soldier flies don’t bother feeding as adults, they rely on the fat stores they gather as larvae, but still use olfactory sensory organs to find decaying organic matter to lay their eggs. About 91% of flies sampled near livestock farms were female, looking for ideal spots for their offspring to grow. (Oonincx, et al., 2016; Sheppard, et al., 2002; Tomberlin and Sheppard, 2001; Tomberlin, et al., 2002)

Black Soldier flies are unique among other corpse feeding flies in that they tend to consume carrion during the advanced stages of decomposition, when the corpses are in the dry, post-decay stage. The larvae require a hidden, rainproof area to pupate. This means if the conditions are not favorable, after the larvae are finished feeding, they will crawl away to a place where they can safely pupate. If they can’t find such an environment to pupate, their pupation times are delayed. If there is not enough nutrition for the larvae to grow, they will pupate earlier than normal. (Li, et al., 2016)

  • Average territory size
    >100 m^2

Home Range

Little is known about the complete habitat ranges of the Black Soldier fly, although there is a project underway to map their range. A lekk territory where many males were present and a poultry farm where numerous females were present laying eggs probably contained members of the same population, with at least a 100 meter distance between them. (Tomberlin and Sheppard, 2001)

Communication and Perception

Sensory organs of the black soldier fly include: visual, olfactory, and tactile specialization. Well-developed olfactory organs allow them to detect dead organic materials and beehives rich in resources for their offspring to develop. Olfactory organs also allow the detection of pheromones secreted by males and females to find lek territories. Visual organs allow for the detection of potential mates that are in midair above leks, and traversing their environment. Tactile organs are hairs on the body that can detect vibrations in the environment caused by sound or movement of air, useful for balance, coordination, and interpreting sounds generated by other black soldier flies. (May, 1961; Oonincx, et al., 2016; Paulk and Gilbert, 2006; Rains, et al., 2009; Tomberlin and Sheppard, 2001)

In diurnal insects such as the black soldier fly, sight signals are detected by the visual system as shapes, colors, patterns, or movement. The visual system of adult BSF consists of 3 ocelli, and a pair of large compound eyes. When detecting members of their own species that are engaging in mating behavior, males perceive other BS flies flying overhead of their lekk territory as dark spots in the sky. The contrast between the sky and the silhouette of the passing insect is perceived in the ultraviolet part of the light spectrum. The dorsal retina of the compound eye in many insects mainly contains blue and/or ultraviolet sensitive photoreceptors. (Oonincx, et al., 2016)

Black soldier flies belong to the Dipteran suborder Brachycera, and all Brachyceran insects share the same retinal design. Each ommatidium of their compound eye contains six large cells, where the photosensitive rhabdomeres are positioned at the periphery. The ommatidium also contain 2 smaller cells, where the rhabdomeres of the cells are located. The rhabdomeres contain a broad spectral sensitivity range, but reduced color discrimination. The combination of photoreceptor cells in the ommatidium enable trichromatic vision based on a UV-blue-green combination. Black soldier flies contain fast temporal responses suited for motion detection. (Oonincx, et al., 2016)

As mentioned earlier, black soldier fly retina has a high sensitivity to UV and blue wavelengths in the sight spectrum, with a lesser sensitivity to green wavelengths. The dorsal retina contains mainly green-sensitive photoreceptors and the ventral retina contains mainly UV-blue sensitive photoreceptors, opposite of most insects. This suggests that on a sunny day, a mate flying overhead of a resting male would appear as a black spot on a bright surface, while a BSF that is flying overhead would view another BSF walking on soil below them as a bright spot on a UV and blue depleted background. (Oonincx, et al., 2016)

Halteres, the pair of short organs below the wings in Dipteran insects evolved from the hind wings of ancestral Dipterans that had two pairs of wings. The haltere of the black soldier fly has 3 distinct parts: the base, stalk, and the knob-like end. The base contains mechanosensory structures called campaniform sensilla which are sensitive to gyrations in the fly’s movements in flight. The halteres are noncoplanar, and the campaniform sensilla at their base function as strain gauges. These gauges detect the Coriolis force exerted on the halteres from the linear velocity of the haltere, and the angular velocity of the body during flight. This allows the flies to detect rotations from all three axes in flight. (Parween, et al., 2014)

The black soldier fly also has a Prosternal organ located at the base of the neck. It is used as a proprioceptor organ that receives stimuli from the head position of the fly to translate its body’s relative position to the central nervous system. The Prosternal organ is composed of two fused plates of 130 mechanosensory hairs set in asymmetrical sockets with variable orientation across the plates. The sensory information obtained from mechanosensory hairs is projected to the central nervous system through a pair of bilateral Prosternal nerves, to the thoracic ganglia. The ganglia then interprets the information as how the fly’s head is positioned relative to its environment. Information regarding head position is important for maintaining visually guided behaviors, such as flight, balance, and for interpreting visual information during head saccades, which are rapid movement of the eye between fixation points. (Paulk and Gilbert, 2006)

Insects have evolved a sophisticated olfactory system using their antennae to detect volatile chemicals in their environment. Odor is processed by the antennae through tactile sensillae, sensory hairs that contain olfactory receptor neurons inside the antennae. Odors in the air enter the antennae through pores in the cuticle. The olfactory receptor neurons then generate odor-specific electrical signals called spikes in response to the odor. The spike travels the axons of the olfactory receptor neurons to the antennal nerve, which projects the spike to the antennal lobe with second order neurons called projection neurons. The antennal lobe processes the olfactory information projected by the neurons with globular structures called glomeruli located in the antennal lobe. The processed information is then transferred from the axons of the projection neurons to the mushroom bodies of the protocerebrum, the command center of the insect brain, where the information is ultimately processed. Mushroom bodies are also involved in olfactory memory formation. The processed information of the antennal lobe is also sent by projection neurons to the lateral horn of the brain, which is involved in odor recognition. (Rains, et al., 2009)

Food Habits

Black soldier flies are generalist scavengers, consuming any decaying organic material with a voracious appetite. Examples of some organic material consumed include decaying crabs, decaying fruits, potatoes, vegetables, animal and human cadavers, privies, honey, rotting corn, manure, heaps of rotting cacao pods and coffee husks. (May, 1961; Rozkosny, 1982)

  • Animal Foods
  • blood
  • body fluids
  • carrion
  • Plant Foods
  • fruit


Not much is known about the natural predators of the black soldier fly. Animals that generally eat flies include frogs, mammals, birds, lizards, predatorial insects, and arachnids. The presence of a parasitoid wasp, Dirhinus giffardii (Silvestri, 1913) has been recorded to reduce cultured black soldier fly larval populations by 72% in West Africa, where the parasitoid is endemic. Dirhinus giffardii is a natural parasitoid of the fruit fly (Ceratitis anonae), and uses other dipteran flies, (Tephritidae, Glossinidae, and Muscidae) and Lepidopteran moths, (Noctuidae) as hosts as well. The wasp parasitizes its hosts in the pupal stage of development, laying one egg per pupae, with one parasitoid larvae emerging from the egg. (Devic and Maquart, 2015; Nguyen, et al., 2015)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • mimic

Ecosystem Roles

The black soldier fly’s ecosystem role is primarily that of decomposing and reducing organic material. Hermetia illucens is closely associated with human interactions, appearing in areas in which humans produce organic waste, such as livestock and poultry farms, landfills, and outdoor garbage containers. They compete with other organisms that share the same food resource niche as them, such as bacteria, fungi, and other scavenger insects. (May, 1961; Nguyen, et al., 2015; Park, et al., 2014; Sheppard, et al., 2002)

Black soldier flies outcompete houseflies Musca domestica for resources in environments that they cohabitate in. Housefly larvae develop faster, and are starved out by the slower growing larvae of H. illucens. The application of pesticides to control M. domestica populations has proven to have an adverse effect. The house-flies are resistant to many pesticides, while the black soldier fly is not. The pesticides killed off some house-flies, but also decimated the black soldier fly population in the same area in the process. This resulted in a boom in the house-fly population, allowing their surviving populations to take advantage of the all the resources in the area. (May, 1961)

Black soldier flies also compete with various bacteria and fungi for manure resources, evolving defensive mechanisms to drive them away from their resource. The insects produce antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) from their fat bodies that are then released into the hemolymph, which are then secreted/excreted from the body, destroying any bacteria nearby. They also produce antifungal chemicals to inhibit fungal growth, effectively allowing them to outcompete them for resources. H. illucens also share a mutualistic relationship with bacteria that live in its gut, Bacillus subtilis, helping in digestion. (Nguyen, et al., 2015; Park, et al., 2014; Yu, et al., 2011)

Species Used as Host
  • None
Mutualist Species
  • bacteria (Bacillus subtilis)
Commensal/Parasitic Species

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

The black soldier fly has been studied extensively for its beneficial traits that can help humans in diverse, financially important ways. The valuable black soldier flies can outcompete pests like houseflies, produce antibacterial substances, clean infected wounds, recycle bioorganic waste, be used in forensic entomology to date cadaver death, be used as livestock feed, and even be used to produce biodiesel fuels. (Li, et al., 2011; Li, et al., 2016; Lord, et al., 1994; May, 1961; Nakamura, et al., 2016; Nguyen, et al., 2015; Park, et al., 2014; Sheppard, et al., 2002)

Competition with houseflies is beneficial to humans because houseflies carry many pathogens that cause disease in humans, while black soldier flies hardly carry any infectious diseases. Hermetia illucens has shown evidence to be an effective natural control agent of house-fly populations. Dense larval populations can reduce housefly M. domestica larval production by 94-100% when they occur in the same area. (May, 1961; Sheppard, et al., 2002)

The actions of fly larvae on wounds produces four categories: debridement, disinfection, bacterial death, and stimulation of tissue granulation and repair. The advent of antibiotic resistant bacteria and fungi have generated interest in treating non-healing wounds with maggot therapy. The water-soluble extract of black soldier fly larvae have antibacterial activity against both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria and antifungal activity against fungi. Purified antimicrobial substances derived from the larvae produced significant activity against anti-methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and methicillin-sensitive S. aureus (MSSA). (Park, et al., 2014)

Gram-negative bacteria negatively affected by the anti-microbial substances produced from BSF larvae include: Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumonia, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Enterobacter aerogenes, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Shigella sonnei. Gram-positive bacteria harmfully affected by the anti-microbial substances from BSF larvae include: Staphylococcus aureus, Kocuria rhizophila, Micrococcus luteus, Bacillus subtilis, and Staphylococcus epidermidis. There were anti-fungal substances produced that inhibited the growth of Candida albicans as well. (Park, et al., 2014)

The black soldier fly is a useful insect to use as a tool for organic waste and livestock manure treatment. It feeds on decaying vegetables, fruits, animal remains, and feces. The larvae have the capacity to reduce manure waste by 44%, kitchen waste by 67.9%, fish waste by 74.2%, and fruits and vegetable waste by 98.9%. The larvae and pupae are also excellent sources of nutrition for poultry, swine, fish, and predatory mites. The nutrition content of prepupae larvae consists of 42% protein and 35% fat. Hermetia illucens are composed of important amino acids and fatty acids needed for growth and development. (Nakamura, et al., 2016; Nguyen, et al., 2015)

Insects have been proven to be useful in estimating the postmortem interval in corpses, which indicates the time of death, useful for forensic investigations in criminal cases. Flies in families such as Calliphoridae (blow flies), and Sarcophagidae (flesh flies) are present in the early stages of decomposition, while black soldier flies (Hermetia illucens) are present during the advanced stages of decomposition, when the corpses are in the drier, post-decay stages. This is important, as there are no other flies that habituate cadavers at post-decay. Without flies to estimate postmortem interval (PMI), the alternative method to estimate PMI is assessing insect community structure as it correlates to the successional ecological communities provided by the corpse habitat. This is a more difficult, and less accurate analysis compared to fly development. (Li, et al., 2016; Lord, et al., 1994)

Using petroleum ether to extract the high fat contents stored in the larval stage of H. illucens can create crude fat. This crude fat extract can be converted into biodiesel fuel by acid-catalyzed esterification and alkaline-catalyzed transesterification. The amount of biodiesel generated from black soldier fly larvae is comparable to the amount generated from rapeseed-oil-based biodiesel, indicating that organic waste grown Black soldier fly larvae could be become a feasible and efficient means to produce biodiesel. (Li, et al., 2011)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Black soldier flies are generally harmless to humans, however, it has been known to cause occasional myiasis in people. (Rozkosny, 1982)

Conservation Status

Black soldier flies are found on almost every continent in high abundance and are not threatened or endangered. (Rozkosny, 1982)


Matthew Duzell (author), University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, Christopher Yahnke (editor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.

World Map


living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

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living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map


living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map


living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


helps break down and decompose dead plants and/or animals


an animal that mainly eats meat


flesh of dead animals.

causes disease in humans

an animal which directly causes disease in humans. For example, diseases caused by infection of filarial nematodes (elephantiasis and river blindness).


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


an animal that mainly eats the dung of other animals


having a worldwide distribution. Found on all continents (except maybe Antarctica) and in all biogeographic provinces; or in all the major oceans (Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific.


an animal that mainly eats decomposed plants and/or animals


particles of organic material from dead and decomposing organisms. Detritus is the result of the activity of decomposers (organisms that decompose organic material).


a period of time when growth or development is suspended in insects and other invertebrates, it can usually only be ended the appropriate environmental stimulus.

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

a substance used for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease


animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females


union of egg and spermatozoan


A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.


the state that some animals enter during winter in which normal physiological processes are significantly reduced, thus lowering the animal's energy requirements. The act or condition of passing winter in a torpid or resting state, typically involving the abandonment of homoiothermy in mammals.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body


referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.


A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

oceanic islands

islands that are not part of continental shelf areas, they are not, and have never been, connected to a continental land mass, most typically these are volcanic islands.


an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


chemicals released into air or water that are detected by and responded to by other animals of the same species


having more than one female as a mate at one time


an animal that mainly eats dead animals


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

stores or caches food

places a food item in a special place to be eaten later. Also called "hoarding"


living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


Living on the ground.


defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.


living in cities and large towns, landscapes dominated by human structures and activity.


uses sight to communicate

year-round breeding

breeding takes place throughout the year


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