Q: I found this insect on my sidewalk. It is mostly black but it had white legs. It looks like a wasp but it does not seem to have a stinger. Can you identify it for me?
A: I believe the insect is a black soldier fly. The black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens (Linnaeus), is a sleek looking fly often mistaken as a wasp. However, like most flies, the black soldier flies only have two wings (wasps have four). In addition, this fly, like other flies, does not possess a stinger. Although the loud buzzing they create when flying is enough to concern many people, adult soldier flies pose no danger.
The black soldier fly is often associated with the outdoors and livestock, usually around decaying organic matter such as animal waste or plant material. Since black soldier fly larvae consume decaying matter, they have been used to reduce animal manure in commercial swine and poultry facilities.
In the southeastern United States, the black soldier fly is abundant during late spring and early fall. Many are mimics of other flying insects, such as bees and wasps. Black soldier fly adults have a wasp-like appearance and are black or blue in color. The adult black soldier fly is not usually considered a pest. 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. For more information, check out the publication from the University of Florida: http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/livestock/black_soldier_fly.htm