Hermetia illucens

Hermetia illucens

''Hermetia illucens'', the black soldier fly, is a common and widespread fly of the family Stratiomyidae.
Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens) Resting on Carex sp. at the edge of a dense mixed forest. Likely hanging around as we have our compost bin nearby. Geotagged,Hermetia illucens,Spring,United States

Appearance

The adults of ''H. illucens'' measure about 16 mm long. These medium-sized flies have a predominantly black body, with metallic reflections ranging from blue to green on the thorax and sometimes with a reddish end of the abdomen. The second abdominal tergite has translucent areas, from which the specific Latin epithet derives. The head is wide, with very developed eyes. The antennae are about twice the length of the head. The legs are black with whitish tarsi. The wings are membranous; in the resting time, they are folded horizontally on the abdomen and overlapped.

''H. illucens'' is a mimic fly, 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". Black soldier fly larvae can be differentiated from blowfly or housefly larvae by a thin gray-black stripe on their posterior ends.
American Soldier fly Native to South America and introduced here. 

Often found around decaying vegetation such as compost heaps - the larvae are used commercially to compost waste or convert the waste into animal feed.

The American Soldier fly looks like a wasp with black body and dark wings. The lower parts of the legs are white. The eyes appear to have a marked pattern of blue/purple and green. 

15 mm in length

 American Soldier fly,Australia,Black Soldier fly,Diptera,Geotagged,Hermetia illucens,Macro,Spring,arthropod,fauna,insect,invertebrate,new south wales,stratiomyidae

Naming

BSFL were developed as a feeder insect for exotic pets by D. Craig Sheppard, who named the larvae Phoenix Worms and began marketing them as pet food. In 2006, Phoenix Worms' became the first feeder insect to be granted a U.S. registered trademark. Other companies also market BSFL under such brand names as NutriGrubs, Soldier Grubs, Reptiworms, Calciworms, and BIOgrubs. In Australia, BSFL are marketed as live feeder insects under the brand name Beardie Grubs.
Black Soldier Fly, Hermetia illucens  Fall,Geotagged,Hermetia illucens,Indonesia

Distribution

This species is native to the Neotropical ecozone, but in recent decades has spread across all continents, becoming virtually cosmopolitan. It is present in most of Europe, including the Iberian Peninsula, southern France, Italy, Croatia, Malta, the Canary Islands, and Switzerland. It can also be found in the Afrotropical ecozone, the Australasian ecozone, the east Palaearctic ecozone, the Nearctic ecozone, North Africa, and the Indomalayan realm ecozone.
Black Soldier Fly, Hermetia illucens  Fall,Geotagged,Hermetia illucens,Indonesia

Reproduction

The main difficulty is obtaining black soldier fly larvae or eggs to start or replenish the colony. This is usually done by enticing the soldier flies to lay eggs in small holes over the grub bin. Adult flies lay clusters of eggs in the edges of corrugated cardboard or corrugated plastic. In some regions, it is possible to start or maintain adequate larvae colonies from native soldier flies; however, pest species such as houseflies and blowflies are also drawn to many of the foods used to attract soldier flies .

In tropical or subtropical climates, they might breed year-round, but in other climates, a greenhouse may be needed to obtain eggs in the cooler periods. The grubs are quite hardy and can handle more acidic conditions and higher temperatures than redworms. Larvae can survive cold winters, particularly with large numbers of grubs, insulation, or compost heat . Heat stimulates the grubs to crawl off, pupate, and hatch, and a great deal of light and heat seem to be required for breeding. Many small-scale grub farmers build their larval colonies from eggs deposited by wild soldier flies.

Captive breeding can also keep pest flies away if done carefully.Worm farmers often get larvae in their worm bins. Larvae are best at quickly converting "high-nutrient" waste into animal feed. Redworms are better at converting high-cellulose materials into an excellent soil amendment.

Redworms thrive on the residue produced by the fly larvae, but larvae leachate contains enzymes and tends to be too acidic for worms. The activity of larvae can keep temperatures around 37 °C , while redworms require cooler temperatures. Most attempts to raise large numbers of larvae with redworms in the same container, at the same time, are unsuccessful. Worms have been able to survive in/under grub bins when the bottom is the ground. Redworms can live in grub bins when a large number of larvae are not present. Worms can be added if the larval population gets low and worms can be raised in grub bins while awaiting eggs from wild black soldier flies.

As a feeder species, BSFL are not known to be intermediate hosts of parasitic worms that infect poultry, while redworms are host to many.

Possible natural enemies

In West Africa, ''Dirhinus giffardii'' has been found to be a parasitoid of ''H. illucens'' pupae and decrease egg production. It has been found to reduce stocks by up to 72%. The parasite is carried by the wasps and precautions should be taken to protect the larvae from exposure to these wasps.
Black Soldier fly, Hermetia illucens (family Stratiomyidae)  Fall,Geotagged,Hermetia illucens,Indonesia

Food

Black soldier fly larvae are used to compost waste or convert the waste into animal feed. The harvested pupae and prepupae are eaten by poultry, fish, pigs, lizards, turtles, and even dogs. The wastes include fresh manure and food wastes of both animal and vegetable origin.

At the pupal stage, black soldier flies are at their nutritional peak. They can be stored at room temperature for several weeks, and their longest shelf life is achieved at 50–60 °F .

Fly larvae are among the most efficient animals at converting feed into biomass. Aside from the protein production, fly larvae also produce another valuable resource called frass. Fly larval frass is a granulated and odorless residue that can be used as organic fertilizer.Black soldier fly larvae are edible to humans. The larvae are highly efficient in converting proteins, containing up to 42% of protein, much calcium, and many amino acids. In 432 hours, 1 g of black soldier fly eggs convert into 2.4 kg of protein, which means more than 45,000 eggs are in 1 g of eggs. They thus can be a source of protein for human consumption. They do not produce protein, but convert human-inedible protein into edible food.

In 2013, Austrian designer Katharina Unger invented a table-top insect-breeding farm called "Farm 432" in which people can produce edible fly larvae at home. It is a multichambered plastic machine that looks like a kitchen appliance. According to Unger: “Farm 432 enables people to turn against the dysfunctional system of current meat production by growing their own protein source." About 500 g of larvae or two meals can be produced in a week by the machine.

The taste of the larvae is said to be very distinctive. Unger: "When you cook them, they smell a bit like cooked potatoes. The consistency is a bit harder on the outside and like soft meat on the inside. The taste is nutty and a bit meaty."

in 2019 a University of Cape Town research spin-off company ''Gormet Grubb'' claim to have found a way to make what they describe as ''an exceptionally healthy, sustainable, and environmentally friendly dairy alternative'' that they call ''entomilk''.
Black Soldier Fly, Hermetia illucens  Geotagged,Hermetia illucens,Indonesia,Summer

Defense

Black soldier fly larvae are used to compost waste or convert the waste into animal feed. The harvested pupae and prepupae are eaten by poultry, fish, pigs, lizards, turtles, and even dogs. The wastes include fresh manure and food wastes of both animal and vegetable origin.

At the pupal stage, black soldier flies are at their nutritional peak. They can be stored at room temperature for several weeks, and their longest shelf life is achieved at 50–60 °F .

Fly larvae are among the most efficient animals at converting feed into biomass. Aside from the protein production, fly larvae also produce another valuable resource called frass. Fly larval frass is a granulated and odorless residue that can be used as organic fertilizer.When the larvae have completed their larval development through six instars, they enter a stage called the "prepupa" wherein they cease to eat and empty their guts, their mouth parts change to an appendage that aids climbing, and they seek a humid, sheltered area to pupate. This prepupal migration instinct is used by grub composting bins to self-harvest the mature larvae. These containers have ramps or holes on the sides to allow the prepupae to climb out of the composter and drop into a collection area.

Uses

Black soldier fly larvae are used to compost waste or convert the waste into animal feed. The harvested pupae and prepupae are eaten by poultry, fish, pigs, lizards, turtles, and even dogs. The wastes include fresh manure and food wastes of both animal and vegetable origin.

At the pupal stage, black soldier flies are at their nutritional peak. They can be stored at room temperature for several weeks, and their longest shelf life is achieved at 50–60 °F .

Fly larvae are among the most efficient animals at converting feed into biomass. Aside from the protein production, fly larvae also produce another valuable resource called frass. Fly larval frass is a granulated and odorless residue that can be used as organic fertilizer.

References:

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Taxonomy
KingdomAnimalia
DivisionArthropoda
ClassInsecta
OrderDiptera
FamilyStratiomyidae
GenusHermetia
SpeciesH. illucens