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Top 10 Pests: Fruit Fly

Argentine ant workers on leaf
Male and female Drosophila flies

Illustration by NASA

Fruit Fly

Scientific Name:
Drosophila spp.
Drosophilidae (fruit flies, vinegar flies, pomace flies)
Diptera (flies)
U.S. Distribution:
All states




This page has three tables, (1) Identification, (2) Look-alike Pests, and (3) Biology and Habits.


Match the Shape and Size Match the Color
Line drawing of fruit fly shape
A pair of fruit flies
  • Adult fly is 1/8 inch long (3-4 mm)
  • Feathery bristle ("plumose") antennae
  • One pair of relatively large wings that overlap when the fly is at rest
  • Cross vein in wing
  • Eyes often (but not always) bright red
  • Body is brownish yellow to brownish black
Illustration © Pinto & Associates Photo © The Exploratorium,


Look-alike Pests

Look-alike Pest Differences

Humpbacked fly or phorid fly
(Megaselia scalaris)

No cross vein in wing; large, humped thorax; small head; eyes not red; often runs jerkily across surfaces rather than flying; hind femur flattened

Fungus gnats (2 families, many species )

Legs long in relation to body; mosquito-like; No feathery bristle ("plumose") antennae; eyes not red


Biology and Habits

Match the Food and Site Match the Habits and Damage
rotting bananas Interior of restaurant and bar
  • Larva feeds on yeast & fungi in semiliquid, fermenting or vinegary foods, esp. overripe fruits & vegetables
  • Found around fermenting produce like bananas, peaches, tomatoes, potatoes; also around fermented or vinegary liquids like beer, wine, vinegar, cider, ketchup, pickle juice
  • Other sites: sour mops, dirty garbage cans, recycling bins, drip pans, clogged floor drains or traps, slop sinks, "empty" cans or bottles, animal feces
  • Common pest of restaurants and bars
  • Can be major pest in food processing plants, canneries, breweries, wineries
  • Larva is eyeless, legless, white maggot
  • Larva crawls to drier location to pupate
  • Newly emerged adult is attracted to light
  • Adult tends to hover in small circles
  • Life cycle may be as short as 8-10 days
  • Can contaminate food
photo © iStockphoto/James McQuillan photo © iStockphoto/Matt Olsen

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