Wingless Soldier Flies

An old joke might call them ‘walks’, but would you be able to ID a wingless soldier fly?


Common name:  Wingless Solider Fly

Scientific name(s): Boreoides subulatus (Family Stratiomyidae)

Description: Female wingless soldier flies are long and narrow in shape, and may be over 2cm long, with slender legs of a similar span. The head has large eyes, short antennae, and is usually reddish brown.

Some individuals are yellow between the eyes, or grade from reddish brown to grey towards the tail, but others are entirely grey. The tapered abdomen may be so swollen with eggs that parts are pale and translucent.

Males are fully winged and less than half the size of their mates, and are generally grey-brown with cloudy grey wings.

Eggs are white

Life cycle: Like other frequently encountered soldier flies, the maggots live in damp soil, decaying vegetable matter and animal scat, and may be common in compost.    

They become visible when they emerge from their pupa in autumn, and the female then climb tree trunks, fences and walls and wait for a male to find them. The long slender eggs are then attached in masses to the surface, usually in a protected spot such as a crevice or wall joint.

Geographic distribution: Southeast mainland Australia, most often in the southern half of NSW and the eastern half of Victoria.

Habitat: Common in gardens, especially near compost.

Pest status: Adults may enter buildings, but are uninterested in human food. Despite their alarming size and appearance, they cannot bite or sting. They can sometimes be beneficial in that their prevent houseflies and blowflies laying in the same material.

Treatment: No treatment is necessary, although compost bins should be moved further away from the house if the flies become a nuisance.


Daniel Heald, technician and entomologist