Insect guide > Flies > Soldier Flies

Soldier Flies

(Family Strationmyiidae.)
There are certain rather broad, but rather flat-bodied flies of divers structure, but separated from other flies by the characters given in the table, which are not especially remarkable in their appearance except in some aberrant forms, and which are not especially numerous or notable, which are grouped together in this family. Comstock has called them the "soldier flies", on account of bright colored stripes with which some species are marked.

They are also dark colored and metallic and are not hairy or bristly. Some of the brightly marked ones look like Syrphus flies and some of them have a superficial resemblance to some of the solitary wasps. The wings are usually clear, but are sometimes smoky or brown. They are found generally in marshy places on flowers and vegetation, and their larvae live in the water, in the earth, in moss, in decaying wood, and in ants' nests, and there are observations on record which seem to show that the larvae of the curious American genus Hermetia may live in bee hives, and in the nests of wild bees. At all events, H. illucens has been seen hovering about bee hives and thrusting its eggs through cracks in the hives. The aquatic species are not confined to fresh water, but at least one is known to inhabit salt water, and one form lives in some of the alkaline lakes of the western states of the U.S.

Some of the larvae are carnivorous, while others feed upon decaying vegetable matter. The aquatic forms feed upon very small aquatic organisms. The eggs are laid in overlapping layers upon the under sides of the leaves of aquatic plants, or they are laid upon the surface of the water. The larvae are elongate pointed and flattened.