What Bug Is That? The guide to Australian insect families.

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A cosmopolitan family, including a wide range of forms. There are over 2000 described species worldwide, and about 100 described Australian species in a large number of genera. The Australian fauna is poorly understood, with no modern revisions. This family is commonly refered to as Soldier flies.

The slightly metallic species of Odontomyia are the most common representatives of the family; they may be collected in considerable numbers in any swampy area, both coastal and montane, where they settle on low vegetation or hovering in the air over open patches. A few genera contain some remarkably perfect wasp mimics. The large black and cream Exaireta spiniger is common in gardens. Hermetia illucens has been introduced into Australia by human activity, and is often found on window sills.

Larvae of Stratiomyidae are distinctive, being elongate, somewhat flattened, with permanently exserted heads, and densely shagreened cuticles. Larvae of some species are predatory, and others are phytophagous. Some are aquatic, but many are found in damp soil or rotting vegetation. The pupa remains enclosed within the last larval skin, a characteristic shared only with Xylomyidae. Inopus rubriceps , which breeds abundantly in soil, is a serious pest of pastures and sugar cane in Queensland.


Soldier flies are generally small to moderate in size. Most members can be recognised by the characteristic venation, with a small, compact discal medial cell just behind the costa of the wing. The antennal flagellum is often elongate, and usually annulate; proboscis short and fleshy; tibiae without apical spurs (except in some Beridinae and all Antissinae); cerci of the female 2-segmented; and male terminalia of rather simple form. This family contains wingless species.


The family is found in most Australian habitats, but is commoner and more diverse in the wetter habits of the east and north. The family has not yet been studied critically in this country, but it can be seen that, as in the Tabanidae, the older elements show relationships with South America, and the more specialised ones with the Oriental region. The elongate, soft-bodied Chiromyzinae, including Boreoides which has apterous females, are not uncommon in the south-east, especially in higher country.

  • Wingless Stratiomyidae

  • Stratiomyidae larvae

  • Odontomyia sp.

  • Hermetia illucens

  • Stratiomyidae