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Ranking Soldier Flies

By Hank Becker
May 16, 1997

Telling the good soldier flies from the bad ones just got easier.

Many species of soldier flies are beneficial to agriculture because they help decompose plant material. But other species are pests of sod and wheat.

For the first time, scientists with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service have compiled detailed descriptions of 33 genera of the subfamily Beridinae of the soldier fly family Stratiomyidae. The ARS monograph also proposes nine new genera, describes two new species and properly classifies many misplaced species for the first time.

Each of the 33 genera is described in detail and a catalogue of world species and their geographic distributions is presented. The scientists present a hypothesis on the evolutionary relationships between genera and the placement of the subfamily with respect to other groups of flies.

The monograph contains a comprehensive key to the genera as well as several regional keys to facilitate soldier fly identification. The publication includes illustrations of the head and genitalia of species of each genus for ease of identification.

The monograph will be useful to scientists studying these flies and also will aid agents at U.S. ports of entry who monitor immigrant species that may be potential pests.

Scientific contact: Norman E. Woodley, ARS Systematic Entomology Laboratory, Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C., phone (202) 382-1802,