What are fruit flies?
Fruit flies measure about 1/8″ long. Their head and thorax are a light yellow to tan color. Fruit flies have abdomens that are black on top with gray underneath. They are commonly mistaken for phorid flies, since both have similar markings. To differentiate, fruit flies have red eyes.
What’s their behavior and habitats like?
People often encounter fruit flies at the end of the summer in the kitchen or around garbage storage areas. Flies will hover around decaying vegetation and overripe fruit.
What is their life cycle?
All stages of the fruit fly’s life cycle depend on the presence of moist and decaying organic material. It is vital to remember this, especially when control measures are taken to exterminate their population.
Fruit flies go through complete metamorphosis. The female will lay approximately 500 eggs on the surface of rotting fruit or some other decaying organic matter. These eggs are difficult, if not impossible, to see with the naked eye. Consequently, an unsuspecting food consumer may end up with intestinal discomfort or diarrhea after eating egg-infested matter.
Larvae will emerge approximately 30 hours after the eggs are laid. Then, they molt twice before entering the pupal stage. The pupal stage requires leaving organic matter for a drier area, such as the side of a garbage container.
The entire time it takes for a fruit fly to develop is very short. This is why an infestation may seem to occur all at once. Under ideal conditions, it takes 8-10 days for a fruit fly to develop from egg to adult. Under less-than-ideal conditions, the process can take 10 days longer.
What are their feeding habits?
Fruit flies feed on yeasted organisms and fungi growing in fruit and vegetable matter. Through the feeding process, they turn food into a semi-liquified mess.
What kind of damage do they do?
Fruit flies cause the most damage by being a nuisance. Their presence around garbage cans or kitchen fruits and vegetables can be irritating. In restaurants and cafes, the sight of fruit flies is repulsive and hurtful to business.
Also, as mentioned before, fruit fly larvae living on fruit can cause intestinal discomfort and diarrhea when eaten.