Effects of temperature and diet on black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens (L.) (Diptera: Stratiomyidae), development. Academic Article uri icon


  • The black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens, is recognised for its use in a forensic context as a means for estimating the time of colonisation and potentially postmortem interval of decomposing remains. However, little data exist on this species outside of its use in waste management. This study offers a preliminary assessment of the development, and subsequent validation, of H. illucens. Larvae of H. illucens were reared at three temperatures (24.9C, 27.6C and 32.2C) at 55% RH on beef loin muscle, pork loin muscle and a grain-based diet (control). Each of the temperatures and diets were found to significantly (P<0.05) affect all stages of immature growth except for pupation time. Overall, those reared on the pork diet required on average 23.1% and 139.7% more degree hours to complete larval development than those reared on the beef and grain-based diets, respectively. Larvae reared at 27.6C and 32.2C required on average 8.7% more degree hours to complete development and had a final larval weight 30% greater than larvae reared at 24.9C. The validity of the laboratory larval length and weight data sets was assessed via estimating the age of field-reared larvae. Grain-diet data lacked accuracy when used to estimate larval age in comparison to estimates made with beef and pork-diet data, which were able to predict larval age for 55.6% and 88.9% of sampling points, respectively, when length and weight data were used in conjunction. Field-reared larval sizes exceeded the maximum observed under laboratory conditions in almost half of the samples, which reduced estimate accuracy. Future research should develop additional criteria for identifying development of each specific instar, which may aid in improving the accuracy and precision of larval age estimates for this species.

published proceedings

  • Forensic Sci Int

altmetric score

  • 4.35

author list (cited authors)

  • Harnden, L. M., & Tomberlin, J. K.

citation count

  • 79

complete list of authors

  • Harnden, Laura M||Tomberlin, Jeffery K

publication date

  • January 2016