- Common Name(s): Fruit Fly, Vinegar Fly, Pomace Fly
- Order: Diptera
- Family: Drosophilidae
- Common Species: Drosophila melanogaster
- Commonly Confused With: Other Small Flies
How to Identify?
Fruit fly adults vary in color from yellow to tannish-brown, and they usually possess vibrant, red-colored eyes. They are not very large, usually maxing out at about 4-5 mm in length. These flies are best identified by the types of materials they are congregating near or areas where you are frequently seeing them. They are one of the few small flies that you will see ‘infesting’ your home.
Where do they live?
Fruit flies live in drain scum, rotting fruit, old beer cans, damp mops, or any other yeast producing materials as juveniles. They will pupate (resting stage between juveniles and adults) near or inside of whatever material they are living in as juveniles and then emerge as adults to start the cycle over again. Adults are commonly seen around rotting fruit, plumbing drains (sinks, tubs, etc.), or other yeast producing material since this is where they like to lay their eggs.
What do they eat?
The larval stages (juveniles) feed on yeast that is produced by rotting or fermenting material. Beer cans can also be used as a food source as yeast is often used in the beer production process. Pupae and eggs do not need to eat. Adults can eat a variety of different things ranging from decaying vegetation to nectar.
What do they do?
These insects are not detrimental household pests. They will not compromise the integrity of your home, and they usually are not the best vectors of any disease. So, what is the big issue with them? They are just really annoying to have around. They get in your fruits and veggies, fly in your face, and harass you at times you really do not want to be bothered. You can kill adult fruit flies all day long, but until you have someone deal with the food source, your problem will persist.
Due to their ability for speedy reproduction, fruit flies are commonly used by entomologists and other scientists for all kinds of different research experiments. There are some really interesting experiments you can even do at home! If this is something you think would interest you or your children, visit the link below for more information: http://depts.washington.edu/cberglab/wordpress/outreach/an-introduction-to-fruit-flies/
- Jacobs, S. B., Sr. (2003, April). Vinegar Flies (Department of Entomology). Retrieved from https://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/vinegar-flies;
- The BugLady (2010, February 2). Fruit Fly (Family Drosophilidae). Retrieved from https://uwm.edu/field-station/fruit-fly/
Author: G. Wyatt West– B.S.E.S University of Georgia 2017; Board Certified Entomologist
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