As their name suggests, fruit flies are attracted to fruit. These small, winged insects are commonly found swarming around overripe, unrefrigerated produce in kitchens. They are also frequently spotted around vegetables, food sitting out on store shelves, and near garbage cans. Fruit flies are also quite fond of beer and wine. It’s not that they crave alcohol – they’re just drawn to any type of fermenting food source.
Fermenting fruit or a moist film of organic material are the only things needed for fruit flies to breed and thrive. Left unchecked, these annoying pests multiply rapidly in drains, garbage disposals, trash containers, empty beer cans or wine bottles, and soppy mops and buckets.
Fruit flies are often mistaken for fungus gnats and drain flies. To avoid confusion, the common fruit fly adult (Drosophila melanogaster) can be identified by the following traits:
- 1/8” in length
- Tan or yellowish in color with black transversal bands on the abdomen
- Eyes are usually bright red
- Hairy bodies and sticky feet which facilitate transmission of harmful bacteria
- Wings beat 220 times per second
- Tendency to hover together in small circles
Fruit flies are commonly found in homes, grocery stores and restaurants - anywhere food may be rotting and fermenting. Most noticeable in spring through fall, fruit flies enter homes on fruit, as well as through open windows and doors. Because fruit fly larvae are so small, they are difficult to detect and are typically brought into homes inadvertently.
Fruit flies can be found all over the world, except on Antarctica. They can survive in various habitats, though they have a low tolerance for extreme climate conditions such as deserts and high mountains.
Fruit flies have four stages of development: egg, larva, pupa and adult. Their complete life cycle lasts a little more than a week, depending on temperatures. Fruit flies lay their eggs on decaying vegetation or moist, organic materials such as slime found in drains and the garbage. Upon hatching, the larvae feed on the decaying material.
Fruit flies reproduce at a rapid pace, laying as many as 500 eggs in their short lifetime. In a matter of days, one overly ripe piece of fruit can become the source of a major fruit fly infestation.
Fruit flies are a valuable asset to scientists performing genetic research, since fruit flies and humans share 75% of those genes which cause disease. Their short lifespan is also helpful, making it amenable to examining changes and mutations that can occur between birth and death.
Fruit flies are attracted to overripe fruit, as well as the fermenting sugars present in wine and beer. Fruit flies also feed on organic material present in unclean drains.
It can be tough to fight fruit flies by exclusion. These pests are so tiny and so prevalent in store-bought fruit, that the odds of dealing with an infestation at some point, especially in warm weather, are high.
The best way to banish these annoying pests is to grab a TERRO® Fruit Fly Trap and place it where fruit flies have been observed. The traps use a non-toxic, food-based liquid to lure fruit flies inside the cute, apple-shaped trap. Once they enter the trap, they cannot escape to continue breeding. Within a few days of placing the traps, your fruit fly problems will be a thing of the past.
Other steps you can take to prevent a fruit fly infestation involve destroying their feeding and breeding grounds.
- Toss or refrigerate overripe fruit
- Empty garbage cans regularly
- Don’t leave almost-empty beer cans or wine bottles in an open recycling bin
- Clean dirty kitchen drains
- Thoroughly clean and wipe down surfaces that come into contact with spilled drinks and food residue
- Fruit flies can breed in the food that accumulates in the top of the mop head, so make sure mops are hung up and allowed to dry completely