Fruit flies, also called ‘vinegar flies’ or ‘wine flies’, are of the genus Drosophila. ‘Drosophlia’ means ‘dew-loving’ which perfectly describes what attracts fruit flies - ripened or fermented fruit and vegetables and other sugary, organic materials. They are found all over the world, and here in North America, the most common families of fruit flies are Drosophilidae and Tephritidae.
Fruit flies are a sanitation issue and when populations get large, they can be difficult to get rid of.
It was once believed that fruit flies naturally formed on ripe or decaying produce. In actuality, adult fruit flies follow odours emitted by ripe produce in search of food and breeding grounds. They lay their eggs in over-ripe and decaying organic materials.
Fruit flies can be found any time of the year where exposed food is present. In addition to favouring dumpsters, recycling stations, and trash cans, they are very common in homes, restaurants, cafes, diners, bars, cafeterias, hotels, orchards, and farmers markets. Their populations are more pronounced and bothersome in late summer and fall months, which are harvest periods.
Fruit flies are 3 to 4 mm long, with 6 legs, red eyes and yellowish to light brown colouring. They have sponging mouthparts and a single pair of wings. Some fruit flies have dark eyes.
The average lifespan of a fruit fly is short, averaging 40 to 50 days, however they reproduces fast.
A fruit flies life cycle has 4 phases - egg, larva, pupa and adult. Given the right conditions (food, heat and humidity), a fruit fly can move from egg to adult in just 10 to 14 days.
The fruit fly life cycle begins when a female fruit fly lays her eggs (400-500 over her lifetime) under bruised or overripe fruit and vegetable skins. The larvae (which are white or cream coloured maggots) hatch often within a day. They burrow into and feed on the rotting food matter. After feeding for 4 to 6 days, the larvae leave the feeding site to find a dark, dry and secure place to pupate. Pupation is often 4 to 5 days (but can take longer), and is where the larvae develops its 6 legs and a pair wings. They emerge from this stage as adult fruit flies, and adult females are capable of mating within just 2 days.
Fruit flies favour ripe or rotten fruits and vegetables, however they will feed on decaying meat, pop, alcohol and decaying organic matter found in garbage disposals and unclean drains. They can and will also lay their eggs in any of these.
To eat, a fruit fly deposits it’s salvia on the food source and sucks it up. Because a fruit fly frequently feeds and breeds in unsanitary conditions (like dumpsters, food waste areas and recycling areas) it’s saliva can contain harmful bacteria and germs. These germs and bacteria, may be left on the surface of what it feeds on, therefore ruining and contaminating it.
No, fruit flies do not bite. They have sponging mouthparts and not the piercing and sucking mouthparts of common blood feeding flies.
For homes, fruit flies are more of a nuisance pest. For the agricultural industry, foodservice industry and food processing, handling and storage facilities, fruit flies pose a serious health concern. Their salvia can contaminate food, which if consumed by humans, can result in illness. There are also large costs associated with disposing of contaminated food.
Fruit flies are found wherever there is exposed food. They are attracted to the odours admitted by ripened or decaying fruits and vegetables, and other decaying organic materials. They find their way indoors to feed and breed through open windows and doors. Fruit flies and their larvae (which are tiny and hard to spot) are also brought indoors on previously contaminated produce.
When unsanitary conditions are combined with large amounts of exposed ripe, fermented or decaying fruits, vegetables, meat or other organic materials, populations grow quickly as fruit flies reproduce quickly.
Sighting a large volume of swarming adult fruit flies is a true sign of a fruit fly infestation.
Being a sanitation issue, fruit flies can almost always be fully eliminated through implementing proper, consistent sanitation practices.
You cannot get rid of a fruit fly infestation without eliminating their food and breeding sources. Common feeding and breeding areas include:
There are many things that you can do on a regular basis to prevent a fruit fly infestation and help you get rid of fruit flies:
There are some cases where a fruit fly infestation can get out of control. In these cases, advice may be needed from a pest control professional to help you find and eliminate breeding areas and prevent future fruit fly infestations.
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