No, They Nibble Your Fruit, Not Flesh!
Fruit flies are a very common household pest, and while they might be annoying, they do not bite or sting. They are more prolific during late summer and fall when the weather is warmer and ripened, or fermenting fruits and vegetables are plentiful.
A person story about these flies
It was a hot summer day. The kind that made me want to head over to the nearest ice cream shop and forget it all. I decided to stop at the local farm and spend the Sunday picking berries. Tasty!
I came home, and set them in a container for later use. Fast forward a day or two. I pull out the good ‘ole Ninja, drop in assorted fruit and the berries I picked.
The dream smoothie was ready.
I took my first swig. Second. Third.
For whatever reason, I was inclined to go back and look at what remained of my fresh berries.
Small white worms were wriggling in and out of the remains. How did I miss this?!
I heave. Then immediately pull out my phone and start Googling “small white worms in fruit”. Turns out I blended and drank fruit fly larva. I guess some of the berries were bad 🙁
Not my most fond memory. It will get significantly worse if a reader tells me they were actually some other creature and NOT fruit fly larva!
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Fruit flies, what are they? (this is for the science folk)
Fruit flies, specifically Drosophila melanogaster, are small oval flies with a tan thorax, tan appearance with black abdomens, and a gray underbelly. An adult can grow up to 3 – 4 mm. One of the most common identifying marks is their red eyes and ringer abdomen.
They are also known for their ability to reproduce rapidly. Female flies can lay up to 500 eggs at a time, hatching in as little as 20 – 30 hours, making these pests hard to control.
D. melanogaster experience a four-stage life cycle from egg to larval and pupal stages to adulthood. Their life cycle can last for 25 days or more, depending on the environmental conditions and food availability.
Fruit flies feed on ripe, rotting, or decaying fruit or produce and often find their way into homes when these are present. Fermented items like beer, liquor, and wine can also attract flies.
They breed and develop in moist areas where organic material and standing water are present, such as drains, garbage disposals, trash cans, and mop buckets and fruit.
There are different types of fruit flies including, Mexican, Citrus, Olive, Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Western Cherry Fruit Flies.
Note that the difference between fruit flies and drain flies is obvious when you know what too look for.
Do fruit flies bite humans, cats, or dogs?
Apart from being a nuisance, fruit flies do not bite or sting humans, cats, or dogs. They do not feed on blood or have biting mouthparts. However, they can contaminate food and surfaces with bacteria and other pathogens they pick up from the unsanitary places they breed and feed.
Where do fruit flies come from?
Fruit flies invade kitchens, bathrooms, and basements if they sense a food source and enter using open doors and windows. They are primarily attracted to overripe fruit on the counter or any fermenting matter in drains, mops, trash bins or even fruit juice.
Unsuspecting homeowners may also bring them in through infested garden crops, rotten fruit and produce from the grocery store (this might be the most common).
Did your kid spill fruit juice that seeped under your fridge? Well, that could be the next hotspot for thousands of fruit flies.
What are the signs of an infestation?
The most common and visible signs are adult flies and pupae. You can easily see adult flies buzzing around the kitchen. Mature larvae may crawl out and about.
How to get rid of and control fruit flies
If you want to get fancy, the FVOAI electric trap (Amazon) is great for attracting flies.
There are several strategies homeowners can use to get rid of fruit flies. The most important is to find and eliminate their breeding and feeding ground. Without this, even smashing 20 flies a day will not stop the onslaught.
If you notice an infestation, start by disposing of all your over-ripe or damaged fruits. Ensure you store any subsequent purchases in the refrigerator until you are ready to use.
Keep your eye on bananas, which have a habit of going bad quickly in my house and becoming the host.
Other ways to get rid of fruit flies include:
1) Regular surface cleaning
Clean all surfaces to ensure no spills or leftovers on your countertops, garbage disposal, or sink drains. Also, change dishcloths and sponges regularly to remove no potential breeding grounds for the flies. Do not forget to take out the trash regularly.
2) Clean your drains
Drains provide a moist environment that may contain fermenting waste. You can pour drain gel cleaners such as Green Gobbler or Drano down infested drains to remove the organic matter or fermenting waste that attracts the flies.
3) Properly store fruits and vegetables
Be diligent about consuming fruits and vegetables before they become overripe or go bad. Once you purchase or bring fruits or produce from the garden, wash them thoroughly and store them in airtight containers or refrigerators until you are ready to use them.
4) Use deterring scents
Essential oils or hang dried herbs in muslin sacks around the house to keep fruit flies away. These include peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus, lemongrass, and clove.
5) Use a homemade cider vinegar trap
These include the jar and funnel traps, the bottle and plastic wrap traps, and the bowl and the soap traps. My favorite is to simply pour apple cider vinegar in a cup and leave it where I see them congregating. Over the next 24 hours, you’ll notice them start piling up.
6) Store-bought products
There are dozens of store-bought insect sprays and repellents you could use around your kitchen and home. These include sticky fly tape and various fruit fly traps such as Aunt Fannie’s FlyPunch fruit fly trap.
Also, aerosols will kill adult fruit flies on contact, but we do not recommend using poison in your kitchen for these pests.
How to prevent a fruit fly infestation
The most effective way to prevent a fruit fly infestation is to remove sources of attraction. Take time to check your fruits and vegetables.
Wash and dry unrefrigerated produce once you bring them home to remove any eggs on the surface, and store them properly in airtight containers or refrigerators.
Discard overripe fruits or vegetables in a timely manner and do not let them sit in the trash can!
Fruit flies are a problem everyone will face at some point, but they do not bite and generally are harmless. They are not difficult to get rid of once you find their food source.
Take care of your fruits and veggies and follow hygienic practices to prevent them from appearing. Knowing what a good pest control plan looks like will help you down the line.
Last update on 2023-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API