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Fruit Fly Facts, Identification, and Control - NY, NJ, & CT

Scientific Order: Diptera (all true flies)

Family: Tephritidae or Drosophilidae

Common Species: Common Fruit fly or Vinegar fly (Drosophila melanogaster)


  • Size: 3 to 4 mm long (25mm = 1 inch); maggots are 2.5 to 4.5 mm long

  • Color: Translucent brown or yellow, with red eyes.


Signs of Infestation

Fruit flies swarm around their common food sources, which include any rotting, decaying, moldy, or dirty food. Check for fruit flies around your garbage, recycling, and drains.

Fruit flies reproduce in sources of moisture. They're particularly attracted to moisture near food sources. You may find them under your sink, near your HVAC system, or around condensation.

Treatment and Prevention

If fruit flies are in your home, then they've found a food source. To remove them, you have to find this food source and deprive them of it. Fruit flies can eat nearly any stored food, fruit, vegetable, liquid, or meat product once it begins to rot.

Take your garbage out every night. When you're not using your garbage cans, keep them sealed. Clean them at least once a month. Store food in airtight, hard plastic containers whenever possible. Clean your kitchen and dining area after each meal.

Where Do Fruit Flies Come From?

Behavior and Diet

Fruit flies and their larva feed on the yeast created when fruits, vegetables, and other organic matter begins to ferment. Overripe fruits, rotten vegetables, the remains of alcoholic beverages, and leftover garbage are all common breeding grounds for fruit flies.

Fruit flies stay close to their food sources, flying over them to congregate and landing to eat. Fruit fly eggs and larvae remain inside their food sources and feed continuously. When they're ready to pupate, they adhere to a surface near their food.


Fruit flies' development speed is highly reliant on the temperature of their environment. A generation's life cycle may complete in as few as eight days in 85°F environments, while it may at around 15 at 68°F.

A single female fruit fly may lay up to 500 eggs. She lays these eggs on food sources, so hatched larvae may begin eating immediately. Larvae hatch quickly and feed continuously until they pupate. Fruit fly adults typically mate only a few hours after pupation.

Other Characteristics

  • Fruit flies have highly developed brains relative to their size; an adult fruit fly has more than 100,000 neurons that form discreet circuits for dictating complex behaviors.
  • Female fruit flies lay between 30 and 50 eggs per day at room temperature. In hotter environments, she'll lay more; in colder environments, fewer.
  • Fruit flies are attracted to moisture, which they need to drink and reproduce. Dirty dish cloths, floor mops, moist towelettes, sponges, and dripping or leaking faucets may attract flies. 

More Information

  • Cornell University Insect Diagnostic Laboratory fruit fly entry

  • Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Entomology insect fact sheets, fruit fly entry

  • Identification of Flies, a step-by-step guide by the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

  • How to deal with indoor flies,” by the Cornell University New York State Integrated Pest Management program

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