Fun Black Soldier Fly Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Fun Black Soldier Fly Facts For Kids

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The black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) of the order Diptera, Stratiomyidae family, is the most widespread. The Stratiomyidae is a Greek word that translates to 'soldier fly.' There are more than 380 extant genera that have over 2,700 insect species. Soldier flies are named Waffenfliegen, meaning 'armed flies' in German. This family is also closely related to the Xylomyidae. The black soldier fly is bluish-black in color with dusky wings. D. Craig Sheppard developed these flies as feeder insects for exotic animals and called the black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) Phoenix worms. Even though they are spread across continents, they are the native species of the Neotropical realm. These flies are neither considered vectors nor pests. There is not much information available about the natural predators of these flies. In the appropriate climate, they can breed throughout the year. There is up to 43% protein in BSFL with high calcium and other nutrients. Black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) is also an alternative (sustainable) form of protein (food source) for animal feed, pet food, aquaculture, and human nutrition.

If the facts about the black soldier fly were interesting, make sure to check out more information on fly facts and damselfly facts on our website.  

Fun Black Soldier Fly Facts For Kids

What do they prey on?

Organic matter, organic waste like manure, carrion, and vegetable residues

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

400-800 eggs

How much do they weigh?

0.0002-0.0004 lb (0.10-0.22 g)

How long are they?

1 in (25 mm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?


Skin Type


What were their main threats?


What is their conservation status?

Not Evaluated

Where you'll find them?

Urban, Rural, And Forested Areas


Every Continent Except Antarctica









Black Soldier Fly Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a black soldier fly?

The black soldier fly is of the order Diptera, Stratiomyidae family, and phylum Arthropoda. The black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) is a diurnal fly that is active in the morning and mates and displays oviposition behavior at midday. Poor lighting at night causes infertility in the population of black soldier flies. Lighting is essential for the lek behavior of these flies as they can differentiate between other species and also whether they are female or male.  This fly does not feed as an adult as they use fat gathered when they were larvae. They use their olfactory sensory organ to identify organic waste or matter to lay their eggs. Most flies found near livestock are females that are trying to find places for their offspring. This fly feeds on carrion around the time when corpses are in the post-decay stage. There is around 42% protein and 29% fat in BSFL, and is a sustainable food source used as farm feed.

What class of animal does a black soldier fly belong to?

The black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) belongs to the Insecta class of animals.

How many black soldier fly are there in the world?

The black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) is widespread in the world. So, the exact number of black soldier flies in the world is not known.

Where does a black soldier fly live?

The black soldier fly's (Hermetia illucens) global population is across all the continents. These flies are native to the Neotropical realm. They are found in most parts of Europe and the United States like the Canary Islands, Malta, Italy, southern France, Croatia, Iberian Peninsula, Switzerland, and on the black sea coast in Russia. They are also found in the Australasian realm, Afrotropical realm, Nearctic realm, east Palaearctic realm, Indomalayan realm, Southern Africa, and North Africa.

What is a black soldier fly's habitat?

Black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) is spread across a range of temperate forest, rural, and urban environments. You can also found the adult flies resting on the windows and walls of houses, on garden plants, on tree trunks, livestock, and poultry farms. Adults use cracks in front of beehives and decomposing organic matter to lay eggs. These terrestrial scavenger larvae can be found near animal materials and decaying plants.

Who does the black soldier fly live with?

Black soldier flies form territories called leks, where males come together to attract females.

How long does a black soldier fly live?

The life cycle of black soldier flies is around 45 days. Adults make it up to nine days and sometimes live only for five days.

How do they reproduce?

Black soldier flies have a metamorphosis life cycle. They have a polygynous mating system where the females mate once and males will try to mate with several females. Females need to mate only once in their life to develop and lay or oviposit eggs. Two days after the pupal emerges, the mating takes place in flight. Mating occurs in areas where the larvae are found, like the edges of forests and farms. Water is also an important factor for reproduction to maintain energy. Males then accumulate in a wild environment where females travel for copulation as they carve out territories which they defend from intruders. These territories are called leks. Around 206 - 639 eggs are laid by an adult female. She deposits her eggs on surfaces adjacent to or above compost or manure. The eggs hatch in four days. The larval stage depends on the food substrates given to the larvae, which last for 18 - 36 days. The pupal stage lasts up to one to two weeks. The development of the larvae completes through six instars, and the larvae do not feed in the last instar. The black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) rearing is done by investigators. Females give little parental care, whereas males offer no care.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the black soldier fly has not been evaluated.

Black Soldier Fly Fun Facts

What do black soldier fly look like?

Adult soldier flies have a wasp-like appearance and are large flies. They have narrow and small heads with a large space between their eyes. The head is shiny black with white stripes on the side of the eye margin and the lower part of the face. They have dark brown to black antennae with black basal segments. These antennae are twice the size of their head, and there are eight flagellomere segments. The mouthparts are sponge-like similar to other non-biting flies. The thorax has metallic blue to green reflection, and few times abdomen has a reddish end. They have black with white tarsi legs. The membranous wings are folded on the abdomen horizontally and overlaps when they are resting. There are five visible segments on their slender and long abdomen. These segments vary in color and visibility from translucent white to reddish-brown. The abdominal hair is white and black. These flies mimic the size, appearance, and color of the mud dauber wasps, like the orange pipe mud dauber wasp and their relatives. The black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) are earth-brown with golden-yellow setae and hair. These larvae can be distinguished from housefly or blowfly larvae by a thin stripe on their posterior ends, which is gray-black color.

The black soldier fly can be fed to farm animals when these flies are in their pupal stage as the nutrition value is at peak.

How cute are they?

The black soldier fly is a dark-colored fly with big eyes. So, black soldier flies like any other insect is considered creepy. When it comes to cute insects, you can't miss bumblebees!

How do they communicate?

These flies use tactile, visual, and olfactory sensory organs to communicate. They detect beehives and organic materials with resources to feed their offspring using olfactory organs. These organs also help detect pheromones released by males and females. The hair on their bodies acts as tactile organs, which allows them to detect vibrations caused due to mair movements and sound. These flies can also detect shapes, patterns, colors, and movements. They use their antennae to identify volatiles chemicals in the surroundings.

How big is a black soldier fly?

The black soldier fly can grow up to 1 in (25 mm). Females are larger than males. Larvae that freshly emerge are around 0.04 in (1 mm) in length.

How fast can a black soldier fly?

The exact speed of the black soldier fly is not known.

How much does a black soldier fly weigh?

The weight of a black soldier fly is around 0.0002-0.0004 lb (0.10-0.22 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names given to the male and female black soldier flies.

What would you call a baby black soldier fly?

The baby black soldier flies are referred to as black soldier fly larvae (phoenix worms).

What do they eat?

The main food source of these insects is organic matter, organic waste like manure, carrion, and vegetable residues. They eat from carrions that are in the post-decay stage. These terrestrial scavengers also eat on manure, honey, rotting corn, vegetables, and potatoes.

Are they poisonous?

No, the black soldier fly is not a poisonous insect. They are also not harmful or dangerous to humans. However, research indicates that they cause rare myiasis in people.

Would they make a good pet?

No, these insects would not make a good pet.

Did you know...

Black soldier fly larvae acts as decomposers as they break down organic substrates and return nutrients into the soil.

The black soldier flies were considered pests in the 1900s.

These flies eat twice their body weight every day. So, they are packed with a lot of energy.

Females can lay up to 500 eggs in one go.

Farming black soldier flies on your own is quite manageable. Provide them a shelter in a bucket and they will go on to harvest themselves. Also, farming these files is reportedly more practical and humane than farming other animals.

What kills black soldier flies?

Not much is known about the natural predators of black soldier flies. Usually, mammals, frogs, birds, insects, and lizards feed on flies. The presence of parasitic wasps in the surrounding black soldier flies also reduces BSF's population. These wasps hosts on the pupal stage of the BSF development and decrease egg production. The larvae can be found in waste piles, dumpsters, and composts and inspection are necessary before using any chemicals. To get rid of black soldier flies or larvae you can use pyrethrum space sprays available in markets. Sanitization of surfaces and then you can use insecticide to kill them.

What are black soldier flies used for?

The rearing of the BSFL benefits humans in more than one way. They contain enough nutrient value like protein and fat to be fed to fish, pigs, lizards, farm animals, turtles, and even dogs. They have a longer shelf life in temperature between 50-60°F (10-16°C). These flies are not only sustainable food sources but also reduce food waste. These insects are not attracted to human habitats or food but females lay eggs manure or rotten food. Research in entomoremediation identifies the use of these insects for purifying biomass that are contaminated with heavy metals. They are also grown through maggot farming. The black soldier fly larvae are edible to humans. However, records of human consumption is rare. Katharina Unger an Austrian designer invented a way for people to produce edible larvae at home. They are also used in aquaculture, grease production, chitin production, and bioremediation.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these monarch butterfly facts or botfly facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring on one of our Hoverfly coloring pages.

If someone on our team is always keen to learn and grow, then it has to be Arpitha. She realized that starting early would help her gain an edge in her career, so she applied for internship and training programs before graduation. By the time she completed her B.E. in Aeronautical Engineering from Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology in 2020, she had already gained much practical knowledge and experience. Arpitha learned about Aero Structure Design, Product Design, Smart Materials, Wing Design, UAV Drone Design, and Development while working with some leading companies in Bangalore. She has also been a part of some notable projects, including Design, Analysis, and Fabrication of Morphing Wing, where she worked on new age morphing technology and used the concept of corrugated structures to develop high-performance aircraft, and Study on Shape Memory Alloys and Crack Analysis Using Abaqus XFEM that focused on 2-D and 3-D crack propagation analysis using Abaqus.

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