Fruit Flies

Fruit Flies Scientific Name: Drosophila melanogaster

Fruit Fly Facts

Fruit flies are tiny gnats that we sometimes see hovering around our fruit bowls. For the most part, they leave just as fast as they arrived, but for some, fruit flies can become a nuisance and the epitome of a pest in the home. Fruit flies are aptly named by their desire to eat fruit; they are enticed by partially decomposed fruit, especially as it is sweeter and easier to break down for these micro-flies. Simply throwing this fruit away can resolve the problem within a day or two.

There are over 500 known species of fruit flies. This common name is shared by many other flies who share the same characteristics as the Drosophila melanogaster. Fruit flies are particularly attracted to bananas and can fly great distances in spite of their size.

Fruit Fly Identification

Fruit flies are probably the smallest fly humans can see with the naked eye. They are easily identified by their tiny build and their ability to swarm with many other fruit flies in one acute location, such as over a fruit bowl or the garbage can, where they seek food. They are usually found near fridges, garbage or trash cans and other areas where dead or decaying food or fruit may be found. Most people are familiar with this creature and have seen them at one time or another.

Fruit flies look black, but may have areas of tan and brown which are difficult to see with the naked eye. They are distinguished from other flies by their tiny size and ability to swarm with many other flies in synchronous. The house fly, for example may fly alone or with one or two others but fruit flies can travel with hundreds of others. They are extremely fast for their size and can fly great distances quickly.

Fruit Fly Habitat

Fruit flies are known to frequent fruit most obviously, but they will also eat any other decaying food sources. Unknown to many, fruit flies will happily take residence in piping and sewer systems which provide ample grounds for reproduction, food and protection. Because of this, the problem may go unnoticed until an established population emerges. They are particularly hard to remove from their habitat once this happens and are considered prolific breeders.

Fruit flies seek out damp and warm areas. They may or may not live in humid areas and are found a around the word. They are common to most domestic settings where they may come in through open windows or doors and may stay for a day or a year, or more. They are often found swarming around dead or decaying food sources with hundreds of other flies.

Fruit Fly Life Cycle

Fruit flies follow a similar life cycle to many other insects. They have four main stages, the egg, the larvae, the pupae and the adult. Eggs may be microscopic and impossible to see with the naked eye. A female will seek out an area that has a food source so that when the eggs hatch, they have food available immediately. Eggs may hatch faster in warmer temperatures and can be laid any time of the year; the young thrive in spring and summer months. Female fruit flies can lay up to 500 eggs at one time and will breed extensively in her short existence.

When the eggs hatch, larvae are produced. These small, white creatures are fast to develop into pupae and will feed extensively on any food source. This makes them very difficult pests to get rid of once they are established. They will feed within their nest for no longer than a week, but may become pupae within half that time depending on the conditions. Once they have enough energy, they reach the pupal stage.

Pupation is a phase in which these legless larvae develop into the shape of their parents. They will grow wings, legs and other features before emerging from their cocoon as fully mature adults. This period is also extremely short and may only take up to four days to compete. Once they have emerged, adult fruit flies may begin to mate within hours and may live for up to a year.

Fruit Fly and Humans

Fruit flies are actually very similar in their genetic make up to humans. They share over half the same disease genes and protein sequences as humans and are a common occurrence in most domestic dwellings at one time or another. They do not usually pose a threat and often leave of their own accord within a short span of time. In cases where they become established, they may become a nuisance; they may even transfer disease, which can become contagious to humans, though this is not very common.

Fruit Fly Control

For the most part, fruit flies can be easily controlled by reducing their habitat. This may mean throwing out trash, removing fruit from open view and ensuring cupboards and fridges are kept clean and sanitary. Basic maintenance is the key to prevention with these pests and they are quickly deterred by a few changes around the home. Chances are, most people have had these creatures in their homes at one time or another, something not necessarily indicative of a regular cleaning schedule as much as it is simply forgetting these basic principles.

Fly traps: Fly traps can be hung in areas where they frequent. They may be scented and lure the flies to them, where they stick to the tape. These can provide immediate relief in cases of fruit flies presence.

If you have been unfortunate enough to have succumb to a long term or a high scale infestation, a deep clean may be needed. Maintenance may also be due, as fruit flies can also come into your home after breeding extensively in piping or in sewer systems. Their persistent population may indicate a problem elsewhere. Once they are established, they are notoriously difficult to get rid of.

Bacterial digestives: These are solutions that can be poured down drains and help remove decomposed food which may have become lodged in piping. You should follow the instructions and repeat as necessary until you feel the pipes are clear.

Insecticides: Can be used to treat breeding grounds. Larvae should be removed, treated and killed immediately. You can do this by placing them in warm, soapy water before being thrown out in a sealed bag. Do not wash them down the drain as this may lure other pests.

Pest control agencies may be able to help if these steps do not provide relief, but this is not usually required. A professional may be able to help you identify the location of breeding, which may be in a hard-to-reach spot, such as piping or behind walls. Chemical treatments will usually be applied to this area and preventative and on-going treatments are usually recommended regardless of which method of pest control you employ.

Fruit Fly Entomology

Fruit flies belong to the animalia kingdom under the arthropoda class, which is common to many winged creatures. Fruit flies are also classed under the order of dipera, which is a part of the insecta, or insect class, and is specific to their sub-genus, sophophora. They also share a melanogaster and species group with up to 500 other similar flies who are categorized by the fruit fly.