Soldier Fly Larva

2022 May 8

I found this trying to cross the road just downhill from our house on May 4, 2022. It was just about an inch long, and would have been too long to fit in the full field of view of my macro lens if it hadn’t partially curled up for this shot.

It is clearly a larva. Looking at its front end, it doesn’t appear to have a head so much as just a projection with a mouth on it. This is pretty characteristic of the larvae of flies, so this is basically a type of fly maggot.

At the other end, the abdomen has a projection that sticks out like a snorkel. This is a common trait for a lot of aquatic fly maggots, and it likely is, in fact, a snorkel so that it can breathe underwater.

There are no legs, as we can see in this shot of a part of its underside (which didn’t look all that much different from its top side, but the larva had a definite preference for which side is up).

I suspected that this was a “Soldier Fly” larva (family Stratomyidae), which I had never seen in real life before, but which I had seen pictures of in the past. Checking on BugGuide, they do have pictures of several specimens that look a lot like mine. Specifically, the ones in the genus Stratiomys have larvae a lot like this. I am trying to rear it to adulthood, but I really have no idea how well that is likely to go and so we may never get any better of an ID than this.

Anyway, they are called “soldier flies” because the adults have fairly bold, stark markings that are reminiscent of military dress uniforms. The adults appear to be mimics of wasps/small bees, but are completely harmless to us. The larvae are typically aquatic, and feed on decaying organic matter.

There is one species, the black soldier fly (Hermetia_illucens), that is cultivated and sold commercially, as the larvae make very good food for insectivorous pets like lizards, frogs, birds, and the like. They are less “crunchy” than mealworms, which is supposed to make them more palatable. Humans can eat them, too. They aren’t very visually appealing, but supposedly “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.”

One Response
  1. July 16, 2022

    Well, that was reasonably nauseating. Urgh.


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