Discover everything you need to know about fruit flies in our guide below.
What are Fruit Flies?
“Fruit fly” is the generic name for a specific type of tiny, winged insect. Sometimes, these pests are called vinegar flies, banana flies, sour flies, or vinegar gnats.
There are 4,000 different species of fruit flies in the world. The most common are the Mexican fruit fly, the Mediterranean fruit fly, the Caribbean fruit fly (sometimes called the citrus fruit fly), the Queensland fruit fly, and the common fruit fly.
The common fruit fly is from the species Drosophila melanogaster. These pests exist on every continent except Antarctica.
These buzzing pests live virtually anywhere they can find rotting or decaying organic matter. They’re especially fond of ripe fruits and vegetables but will breed in drains, garbage disposals, trash containers, and mop buckets.
What do Fruit Flies Look Like?
Fruit flies are easy to identify, thanks to their appearance and behaviors.
Adult fruit flies are usually brown or tan and between 3-4 millimeters long. Most varieties have red eyes, black and gray abdomens, six legs, and small antennae.
Fruit fly larvae look like tiny, cream-colored maggots. Fruit fly eggs are so small that they usually need to be identified under a microscope.
Fruit Flies 101: Behavior, Diet & Habits
The Fruit Fly Life Cycle
Fruit flies live for about 25-30 days. During this short period, female fruit flies lay eggs on the surface of rotting organic matter, like fruit and vegetables. Each female lays about 500 eggs during her lifespan.
In optimal conditions, the eggs hatch into larvae in about 30 hours. Once hatched, the larvae feed on fungi growing around them.
As they do, they reduce their food to a semi-liquid state, where they molt twice before reaching their adult stage – about 8-10 days from hatching.
Full-grown larvae prepare for pupation by leaving their food source for somewhat dryer conditions, where they begin to mate. After mating, fruit flies start to lay eggs within 24 hours, and the life cycle continues.
What do Fruit Flies Eat?
Fruit flies eat a variety of organic matter and high-sugar substances. They’re known to feed on fruits, leaves, plant secretions, and the honeydew aphids leave behind.
Fruit flies love decaying organic matter and feed on over-ripe or bruised fruits and vegetables.
Where do Fruit Flies Live?
Fruit flies live around the world and are common in kitchens, restaurants, food trucks, orchards, grocery stores, and other places that contain lots of fruit and vegetable matter.
Because of their rapid reproduction and flexible diet, fruit flies can be tough to eradicate. In most cases, fruit flies appear from “nowhere,” entering a kitchen, home, or hotel via infected fruit from orchards, vineyards, or grocery stores.
Once inside, they hatch and begin their lifecycle, taking over your fruit bowl and buzzing around your kitchen.
How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies
Getting rid of fruit flies requires killing all adults, eggs, and larvae. Because of this, fruit fly eradication tends to be a multi-step process.
We recommend deep-cleaning the affected area, removing or sealing all organic matter, and using a combination of DIY or store-bought traps and fruit fly spray to get rid of the pests.
Check out our comprehensive guide for more information on how to kill fruit flies.
Fruit flies aren’t dangerous, per se, but they can carry bacteria, including salmonella, e. coli, and listeria – all of which can lead to food poisoning and make you sick.
No – fruit flies do not bite, nor do they have biting mouthparts capable of piercing human skin.
Fruit flies enter your home as eggs or larvae through infected fruits or veggies. Once inside, they hatch and begin their lifecycle. Adult fruit flies may enter your home through gaps or tears in your screens or open windows during the summer months.