Facts, Identification & Control
Latin Name: Family Drosophilidae
Drosophila melanogaster is a species of small fly. Adults are 3 to 4 mm long, may have red eyes, though some are dark eyed, and a tan thorax. The abdomen is black on top, gray underneath. Fruit flies can appear to be brown or tan in color.
Populations tend to build during the summer, becoming very abundant at harvest time. Indoors, fruit flies are frequently active at all times of the year.
Fruit flies eat ripened fruit and vegetables and fermenting products.
Larvae of fruit flies develop in moist areas where organic material and standing water are present. The entire life cycle lasts 25 days or more depending on the environmental conditions and the availability of food.
The two most visible signs of fruit fly activity would be the adult flies and the pupae. Adult flies often are seen flying around in kitchens or trash cans near the decaying fruit or vegetables. They also are attracted to liquor and liquor/beer bottles. The mature larvae of fruit flies crawl out of the breeding material to pupate in a dry nearby spot. They sometimes are mistaken for cockroach or rodent droppings but can easily be differentiated by a pair of horns on one end of the pupae.
There are over several known fruit fly species across the globe. Like other fly species, fruit flies experience a four-stage life cycle: beginning as eggs, they undergo larval and pupal stages before emerging as adults. The early life stages span approximately a few days and fruit flies can complete their development in as little as week in ideal temperature conditions. Adult fruit flies can live up to 30 days.
The common fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) is known for its ability to reproduce rapidly. The common fruit fly is a useful specimen in scientific research. The rapid life cycle allows researchers to study the effects of an experiment over a number of generations. Mutations are also common and easily followed in this fly species. Fruit flies have only four pairs of chromosomes: three autosomal pairs and one pair that determines sex. The entire compact genome of the common fruit fly was sequenced in 1998.
It is extremely difficult to rid a home of the common fruit fly. Fruit flies are attracted to sugary, organic materials. As their name suggests, they are commonly found infesting fruit. However, fruit flies are also capable of breeding in decaying meat, trash bins and large spills of soda or alcohol. Any fruit brought home following that should be stored in the refrigerator if appropriate. Regularly wipe counters, clean spills and empty your trash cans to help prevent fruit fly infestations.
The first step in addressing a fruit fly infestation is the destruction of their feeding and breeding grounds. Fruit flies often lay their eggs in rotten fruit and other soft, sweet, organic materials. If you identify a fruit fly infestation in your kitchen, dispose of all over-ripe or damaged fruit. Any subsequently purchased fruit or vegetables should be kept in the refrigerator until the fruit fly infestation dissipates.
If there is no fruit or vegetable matter in your kitchen, check your garbage and recycling bins. Fruit flies may also use unclean drains as breeding grounds. Outdoor drains are likely sources of yard-based fruit flies, as are overripe fruits beneath the trees from which they have fallen.
After isolating the fly breeding ground, control methods may be utilized. Although eradication may require several treatments, the lack of food available to fly populations will eventually cause them to die out.
Bacterial digesters are available to pour down infested drains. Bleach can sometimes be effective; although it is rarely stays in the drain long enough to address the accumulated slime that attracts fruit flies. While not effective at eliminating an infestation, fruit fly traps may provide temporary relief by trapping some of the adults.