Black Fruit Flies: Information & Prevention

Fruit FlyThe Black Fruit Fly, or Drosophila melanogaster, is a fly species that is commonly known as a “vinegar fly” or simply a “fruit fly.” As a species, they have proven useful in the study of genetics, physiology, pathogenesis (the study of the manner in which diseases are developed), and even the theory of evolution. However, as useful as these organisms may be, they certainly are a nuisance to have around your home, restaurant or anywhere else. Most fruit flies are a yellow-brown color with eyes that exhibit a brick red color, a sepia color or a white color. The eyes can tell a lot about the genetic makeup of the flies. Sepia eyes are a “recessive gene,” so can only occur when two sepia-eyed fruit flies mate. They exhibit sexual dimorphism (males and females look slightly different). The females are a usually a mere 2.5 millimeters in length, and the males are even smaller, with slightly darker backs.

Everything You Need to Know About Black Fruit Flies

At room temperature, the flies can live up to 30 days, but the females can lay up to 400 eggs at a time, meaning that their numbers increase exponentially with each generation. They feed and lay eggs on fruit, particularly if it is rotting. Fruit flies are common pests, and can be found in virtually any environment. Fruit flies thrive at room temperature. This combined with their high rates of reproduction means that the pests become very dominant very quickly. A fruit fly infestation should be addressed immediately in order to prevent their numbers from growing too high.

Fruit flies enter a habitat when a fertilized female finds a piece of rotting or fermenting fruit, or a source of sugar, in which she can lay up to 400 eggs. After the eggs hatch, the males and females begin mating anywhere between 8 hours and 2 days. This allows the fruit flies to rapidly grow their population and infest your home. The name “fruit fly” can be misleading. While fruit is the primary place in which the females lay their eggs, they can also be laid in drains, spills, trash cans, and other places where decaying sweet or organic things can be found. Cleaning your home of all organic items can potentially eliminate a fruit fly population, but this is not only very inconvenient, but also very difficult. Anything left behind could be a new source for fruit fly inhabitation. Pest control should always evaluate the situation before action is taken.

There are insects that feed on fruit flies, and while some may consider them a viable option for fruit fly removal, the predators are often just as pesky as the prey. Ants, spiders, frogs, and beetles are the most common predators of fruit flies. Chickens and birds, which often eat overripe fruits and vegetables, can also consume the fly larvae. Wasps, mites, and crickets also feed on fruit flies, but not nearly as frequently as the others.

Black Fruit Fly Reproduction Patterns

Black fruit flies have very short life cycles, typically lasting no more than 30 days. However, in this time, a female fruit fly can lay hundreds of eggs. In fact, the female fruit fly begins courting males just 8-12 hours after hatching from their eggs, and can lay up to 400 eggs within just 24 hours of being born. To court a female, the males perform a dance of sorts. First, they extend their wings, and then vibrate them in order to play a courtship song for the female. After, the male positions himself behind the female and licks her. Finally, he curls his abdomen and attempts to mate. Females will often reject a male’s advances by moving away or kicking the male. Mating lasts between 15 and 20 minutes, and the female then incubates the eggs and sperm in her body. She mates multiple times to ensure genetic variety. The eggs are small and glossy, and measure about one-half of a millimeter in length. The larvae, or freshly hatched fruit flies, are usually an off-white color, and look very similar to small worms. Fruit flies can go from egg to adult in only a week.

Because of their short life cycles, and how quickly they are able to reproduce, fruit flies are well-known for their contributions to the scientific community. It was one of the first organisms used in the genetic analysis, and is still one of the most widely used today. Because the processes of DNA replication are so common, genetic studies of the black fruit flies lead to new findings about the genetics of humans as well.

How to Control a Black Fruit Fly Infestation

Fruit flies are very difficult to remove. It is recommended that you remove all organic material, like fruits and vegetables, from your house. Clean up any spills, and do not leave anything sugary, sweet, or organic in your trash can. Use bacteria killing drain cleaners, and vigorously disinfect all food preparation surfaces around your house or restaurant. Because they are so difficult to remove, and these measures are inconvenient, time-consuming, and financially frustrating, black fruit fly infestations almost always require the help of professionals, especially if the infestation is in a restaurant. While they may seem to have disappeared, the females could have potentially laid thousands more eggs in fruits and other foods in your homes, and a professional may be the only way to ensure their complete eradication.