The Fruit Fly

Fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) are well-known insects. Whether you’re a biology student or common resident, you’ve heard of these before. While they are widely used for research and experiments in laboratories, there are also worldwide pests. Fruit flies come wherever food is – they almost seem to appear out of thin air! It can be a nuisance to have them buzzing around your delicious plate of food. They are especially attracted to rotting fruit.

HOW TO IDENTIFY FRUIT FLIES

They are much smaller than house flies or blowflies.

  • Their body length is around 4mm
  • Females are 3mm
  • Males are smaller, with blacker backs
  • The abdomen is generally dark in color
  • The underside of the fruit fly is grey in color
  • They look brown in color to the naked human eye
  • Their eyes are usually red in color
  • Wild-Type have black stripes across their abdomens

Appearance and Behavior

Fruit Fly

Fruit Fly. This image was released by the Agricultural Research Service, the research agency of the United States Department of Agriculture, with the ID k7500-5 (next)., Public Domain, 

Fruit flies are generally easy to identify. They swarm around rotten fruit and even vegetables. They are often seeing flying around garbage bins and are a common sight in many restaurants. Fruit flies were one of the first insects used for genetic research as they have only four pairs of chromosomes and breed at a rapid rate. Fruit flies are found in all corners of the world, including cold places and islands. They are known to spread diseases as they can contaminate food. Outside, they are highly active in the summer. Indoors, they can be active throughout the year.

  • They live for 30 days, but breed at an extremely rapid pace. This is why infestations can be hard to get rid of.
  • Females lay eggs in fruits, mushrooms, water bodies and decaying organic matter.
  • Males can demonstrate courtship dances when attempting to mate with new females.
  • They are polygamous. A female can lay 500 eggs at a time which hatch in 30 hours.

Signs

Signs of fruit flies are a physical sighting of the flies around food and other organic matter. Fruit flies flock around rotten, ripe or leftover fruits. They are also attracted to liquor, beer, and wine. If your cupboards and pantry are open, fruit flies may settle on the food in there.

Residents may also spot them breeding in drains, stagnant water, garbage dumps, and trash cans. They even breed on decaying meat and sugary spillages. Their pupae are also an indicator of an infestation. The pupae resemble roach or rat droppings but have a pair of horns on one end. They are often found near dry spots near the infestation areas (which are usually sewage pipelines).

HOW DO YOU GET FRUIT FLIES


Leaving overripe, rotting or decayed fruits around the house will definitely attract fruit flies. If your house is close to drainage lines, fruit flies might come in from there as well. Improper disposal of trash can also draw flies to your house.

They are often seen buzzing around open trash bags containing organic rotting matter. Restaurants are extremely vulnerable to fruit fly infestations, as there is open food all around. Having fruit trees near homes can also bring about fruit fly infestations nearby that can create a nuisance (as the flies will feed on the fallen fruits).


HOW TO GET RID OF FRUIT FLIES


The fruit fly is hard to get rid of as it breeds at an astounding rate. The best thing to do would be to prevent them in the first place. Keep your kitchen clean and regularly dispose of garbage. Clean the trash bins as well.

Any ripe fruit should be stored in the fridge, and overripe or rotten fruits should be thrown away. Clean up spills as soon as they happen. Keep food stored in tight containers. Lack of openly available food will be more than enough to keep them away.

Bacterial digesters can be used to get rid of fruit flies. Fruit fly traps are also a commonly used method of fruit fly elimination. Bleach can be poured down drains to remove any slimy organic matter that might be attracting flies.


Fruit Fly Facts


  • They are one of the most studied organisms in biological and genetic research
  • The compound eyes of the Drosophila are one of the most advanced amongst insects
  • The wings are capable of beating at a speed of 220 times per second
  • They are also known as vinegar flies