Explanation of Names
; the common name refers to the bold markings resembling military uniforms(1)
over 250 spp. in our area(2)
, ~2,700 spp. in >380 genera worldwide(3)
Overview of our fauna (* –taxa not yet in the guide; classification adapted from Woodley 2001):
Often superficially resemble wasps in appearance and behavior. Adults vary widely in color and shape. Wings at rest are folded scissorlike across the abdomen. Antennae characteristic in having a long terminal segment which, when bent, gives a flagged appearance:
However, many soldier flies have aristate
antennae. They are recognized by their wing venation; the branches of R are rather heavy and are crowded together toward the costal margin of the wing, and the discal cell is small.
Larvae are elongate, torpedo-shaped and may be flattened, with the skin or exoskeleton of some species firm and somewhat tough. Head is generally small and narrower than the body. The body bears no legs or other prominent features except body spines, although aquatic species may possess a rosette of hairs on the end of their bodies that is used to float on the surface of water to gain access to air and to trap air bubbles that are used for respiration while the larvae are submerged.
worldwide and throughout NA; by far most diverse in the Neotropics (~1000 spp.)(4)
Larvae in a variety of situations, but mostly associated with decaying plant matter from leaf litter to rotting fruits; some (esp. Pachygastrinae) under bark of fallen trees; larvae of Nemotelinae and Stratiomyinae are aquatic (various wet habitats: ponds, rivers, tree holes, seepage areas). Adults often found on leaves in sunny forest patches; some (particularly Stratiomyinae and some Clitellariinae) frequent flowers; adults of Sarginae and Hermetiinae usually found near larval food sources(4)
Aquatic larvae feed on algae, decaying organic matter or on other aquatic organisms
Pupation occurs in the last larval skin(2)