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Soldier Flies,

Phoenix Worms &

Black Soldier Flies

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You can Grow or Buy your own Soldier Flies - here's how -
By: Editors @ Pet Care Tips

Soldier Flies, scientifically named Diptera Stratiomyidae
are true flies, but they are wasp mimics, and look very
similar to the Mud Dauber wasp family. The adults are
various colors from black, metallic blues and greens, to
purple or bright yellow patterns; are some less than one
inch (fifteen to twenty millimeters) long and have only two
wings. (Wasps have four.) Soldier Fly adults are often found
on flowers and are harmless to people, as they don't bite or
sting at all. In fact, they don't have functional mouth
parts, only living long enough to mate and lay eggs.

There are about fifteen hundred species of soldier flies
worldwide, but the species most commonly used as pet food is
the Black Soldier Fly, scientifically named Hermetia
illucens. The larvae are sold as Phoenix Worms and Soldier
Grubs to be used as food for herptiles and tropical fish.

The Soldier Fly larvae store calcium in their bodies for
later use when they pupate, so they are a good food for pet
birds, small carnivorous and insectivorous snakes, lizards,
turtles, frogs, salamanders and insects. Dried Soldier Fly
pre-pupae provide up to forty-two percent protein and
thirty-five percent fat and have a mineral and amino acid
mix that also makes them excellent for use as livestock

Soldier Fly larvae are also used in manure management and as
fishing bait. Some people who are interested in sustainable
farming use Soldier Fly larvae to convert their manure and
discarded plant matter to usable compost while harvesting
the larvae as animal food. As a bonus, where Soldier Fly
larvae are abundant, House Fly maggots starve.

You may want to grow your own free live pet food and garden
compost. Here's how:

The adult Soldier Flies gather in small groups and, after
mating, the female will search for a good egg-laying spot
for the nearly one thousand eggs she will lay in her short
remaining lifetime of five to eight days. She chooses a spot
near manure or in composting vegetation and lays her eggs,
and in about four days the larvae hatch and crawl into the
manure or compost and begin to eat it.

The larvae start out white, then change to light brown,
ending up as large many-segmented grey maggots with one
round end and one pointed end. If there is plenty of food
the larvae will be ready to pupate in about two weeks, but
if food is limited or the weather is too cool they can take
up to six months to mature to the pre-pupae stage.

The Soldier Fly larvae (aka Phoenix Worms) go through five
stages and by the end of the final stage they are about one
inch (twenty-five millimeters) long and about as big around
as a pencil. During their last molt as larvae they digest
everything in their gut and stop eating for life.

The larvae climb upward to pupate, and if you are raising
them for live pet food or livestock food you can simply
provide a ramp and they will crawl out of their tank or bin
and put themselves into your collecting bin, no sorting

At this point they are leathery reddish-brown flattened
legless "wormy things" with about ten segments. They are
also very tough, being able to live without food and water
for weeks. Simply feed them to your pets or dry them and add
to your livestock food for a free high protein and calcium
animal food.

Learn more cool stuff about Invertebrates

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