Soldier flies are 10-18 mm long and some have brightly colored stripes on the abdomen. Generally, the abdomen is flattened and partially covered by the wings at rest. Larvae occur in a variety of habitats. Some are aquatic and feed on algae; others are found in decaying organic matter, including dung and feces. Larvae are flattened and the surface of their integumentis rough and slightly granular. The posterior spiracles are together and usually concealed in a terminal cleft.

Soldier fly, Hermetic illucens Adults are 16-20 mm long and black with translucent spots on the second abdominal segment. The apex of the abdomen is sometimes reddish brown; tarsi are white to pale yellow, and the wings are uniformly dusky. Full-grown larvae are 23-27 mm long and reddish brown; the head is elongated and yellowish brown to dark brown. The cuticle is leathery and covered with fine setae. The body is distinctly depressed and tapering toward the anterior end. Abdominal segments 1-7 have lateral spiracles, and there are wartlike organs posterior of spiracles on segments 2-5. The caudal segment is flattened with a transverse spiracular cleft at the anal end, and a longitudinal, slit-like anal opening. Larvae breed in decaying organic matter, including vertebrate corpses and feces. This species occurs in North, Central and South America, and Pacific islands.

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