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Soldier fly

Soldier fly is a common species in southern states. The flies are slender, about an inch long and are often mistaken for wasps.

Soldier fly

Soldier fly

Soldier flies are robust, 5/8-inch long, black flies with smoky black wings. Wings are held over the back when at rest. The first abdominal segment has clear areas. Larvae are torpedo-shaped and flattened, with skin (exoskeleton) appearing firm and tough. The head is small and narrower than the body and the body bears no legs or other features except hairs and spines. The back of the body is blunt and bears breathing pores.

Larvae have chewing mouthparts. Adult flies are commonly trapped indoors and are found around windows as they try to find an exit. Outdoors, they occasionally “buzz” by, but are otherwise rarely encountered. Larvae feed on decomposing organic matter, mold and algae. Hermetia illucens is commonly encountered indoors in bathrooms, kitchens, outdoor latrines and earthworm beds. Larvae have also been extracted form carrion, and there are reports that the larva has been accidentally swallowed with contaminated food, causing myiasis.

Large numbers of soldier flies were observed at two sites: within the chicken houses (a known larval habitat) and along the edge of the woods, especially a 10 to 15 m stretch of kudzu and morning glory facing the poultry facilities. We used an aerial net to sample these areas. We judged that there were several hundred soldier flies present during our collection periods.

Adults collected from the forest edge were 91.9% male, while those collected from the poultry facilities were primarily female 91.3% apparently seeking oviposition sites. suggest that adults live in a wild environment and that those observed in livestock facilities are newly emerged or ovipositing females.

Soldier fly

Soldier fly

Life Cycle :Two days after adult emergence from the pupal case, mating can occur. A male black soldier fly intercepts a passing female in mid-air and they descend in copula . Male soldier flies utilize lekking sites, where they await female soldier flies. These sites are defended against other male soldier flies. When a male intrudes upon the territory of a resting male, the resting male seizes the intruder. After a brief descent, the invading male will retreat.

Eggs: The female black soldier fly deposits a mass of about 500 eggs in cracks and crevices near or in decaying matter such as dung, carrion, garbage, and other organic waste. The eggs hatch into larvae in about four days. Each oval shaped egg is about 1 mm in length, and pale yellow or creamy white in color.

Larvae: The larvae can reach 27 mm in length and 6 mm in width. They are a dull, whitish color with a small, projecting head containing chewing mouthparts. Larvae pass through six instars and require approximately 14 days to complete development . During larval development, black soldier fly larvae are insatiable feeders. As adults they do not need to feed and rely on the fats stored from the larval stage.

Pupae: Before pupation, the sixth instar larvae disperse from the feeding site to dry sheltered areas, such as ground vegetation, to initiate pupation. The exoskeleton (skin) darkens and a pupa develops within. Pupation requires about two weeks.

Soldier fly larva

Soldier fly larvae

The adult black soldier fly is not usually considered a pest . Because the larvae have been shown to be effective manure recyclers, a “Black Soldier Fly Manure Management System” has been proposed to not only reduce livestock waste, but also generate a food source for fish and other animals. In a program outlined in Newton et al. swine manure was fed to black soldier fly larvae, which greatly reduced the waste material.

The manure was transferred into a basin containing black soldier fly larvae. As the larvae developed they reduced the manure by 50%. Approximately 45,000 larvae will consume 24 kg of swine manure in 14 days. As the larvae mature they crawl out of the basin, thereby self-harvesting themselves, and are subsequently available as livestock feed. In addition to being a good source of oil and protein for animal feed, black soldier fly larvae have the potential of improving organic waste into a rich fertilizer.

Statistically, food waste in the United States, could be significantly reduced and waste reduction of farm animals (chickens and pigs) might even reach 75%. Simply put, manure is rapidly decomposed by the black soldier fly larvae, greatly reducing the amount and odor, along with any potential disease problems.

Secondly, this non-pest larvae converts the manure’s nutrients into 42% protein and 35% fat feedstuff. This conversion of waste into feedstuff is called bioconversion and, consequently, the larvae can be fed right back to the animals or birds that generated the waste or used as feed for fish or livestock. It can be ground up and fed to earthworms or red worms for a second round or just used as compost. The larva is dry, friable, and odorless.



In addition, many experts believe that the high calcium content of the larvae (also called “phoenix worms”) may halt or reverse the effects of metabolic bone disease. This biomass, of larvae harvested nutrients, is worth about the same as meat and bone or fishmeal. It can be easily and economically transported, unlike unprofitable manure, and reduces the need to import concentrates that are added to other types of feed.Thirdly, the larva’s eating style discourages the development of pest flies. As large populations of black soldier fly larvae churn manure, they make it more liquid and less suitable for, not only egg-laying (oviposition) by the pest fly, but the actual development of the pest fly’s larvae, thus reducing them substantially

The larvae of a few species of drone flies, called “rat-tailed maggots,” are occasional pests in livestock operations. Some drone fly larvae have also been known to cause intestinal myiasis in humans, but this is very rare in the United States. Some flower fly larvae are important predators of aphids and other pests.

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