Are fruit flies bugging you at home? Or maybe not at the moment, but you might be curious about how long do fruit flies live? Read further to find out!
Lifecycle of a Fruit Fly
At one point or another in your life, you’ve probably dealt with those annoying fruit flies buzzing inside your house.
Relative to many other insects, fruit flies have a very short life cycle from egg to adult. On average, if given an environment with warm enough temperatures and food, after the eggs hatch it would take only about a week for the fly larvae to feed, reach maturity, and develop as pupae (pre-adults).
Once the adults emerge, it would take about 1-2 more days before they can mate. Around 8-10 days are needed from the time the eggs hatch to the moment the adult flies can mate. After the adults mate, each female fruit fly can live anywhere between 1-2 months, or 40 – 50 days, and lay hundreds of eggs throughout its lifespan if given the chance.
If about a week has passed by since you first saw some fruit flies hovering around your fruit bowl in the kitchen, and then all of a sudden you start seeing tons of them appear seemingly out of nowhere, do not be alarmed. The house could have been invaded by a handful of mating adult flies from outside, which found your home with the perfect conditions for mating.
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What then, are these conditions that fruit flies look for to mate and lay eggs?
• Any moist surface with fermenting, organic matter is what you should look out for!
Things That Attract Them
These pesky flies live out their name to a T, since they are named fruit flies for a reason. Decaying, fermented fruit can be considered “heaven on earth” for fruit flies. Do not underestimate the size and simplicity of fruit flies, since they are extremely smart and can pinpoint rotting and decaying fruit from one corner of your house to the other. When we mention “fermented fruit,” we mean that a fruit has ripened to the point where yeast and bacteria are multiplying and actively breaking down certain compounds in the fruit. The byproducts that the microbes release after feasting on the fruit are what really attract fruit flies.
Apart from decaying fruits, fruit flies will go after just about any food that you may have sitting out on the table. Any surface with some fruit juice or stain that is not properly cleaned up, the fruit flies will have no problem feeding off of that as well. Even having window screens may not completely deter fruit flies from entering your house; depending on what kind of screens you have, they may be able to fly through them, or find tiny cracks and crevices you wouldn’t notice in your house.
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Have you seen fruit flies buzzing around your kitchen, living room, or an outdoor space? Continue reading this article to find out some natural methods you can use to take care of them.
Fruit flies during the winter?
Since fruit flies are always around during the summer months, have you ever wondered where do they and all of the other bugs go during the wintertime? Unless you live in the southern part of the U.S where the weather is warm year-round, fruit flies and most other insects cannot survive outside in the northern areas of the U.S where temperatures dip below freezing during the winter months.
We know that many animals hibernate during the winter, and some are equipped with warm fur to survive outside. Yet, all insects that must endure the winter months also undergo their own form of hibernation called “diapause,” where they halt their growth by reducing their metabolism and utilize antifreeze molecules inside their bodies. During diapause, insects take shelter underground, inside trees, underwater, and especially inside your home (which offers nice, warm shelter for many bugs).
If you have fruit flies inside your house in the middle of winter (or even in the fall when temperatures begin to drop), rest assured that you are probably not dealing with mutant flies. Flies in the form of un-hatched eggs could have taken a ride on the organic (and even conventional) fruits and vegetables that you bought at your grocery store, where the produce could have come from a warmer part of the world.
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The pests you may have during the winter may not be fruit flies, but fungus gnats. Don’t confuse the two. They’re two distinct species with different lifestyles. And, you may be dealing with fungus gnats if you overwater your potted plants.
Why should I care about removal?
They can be quite annoying, but you may think that they are otherwise harmless. But, fruit flies have been shown to move around the pathogenic bacteria E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria. It is evident that they can carry harmful bacteria and germs. These can make you sick if you do not carefully sanitize your environment.
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Apart from possible transfer of harmful microbes, fruit flies have not been found to cause illnesses. So, don’t worry if you happen to swallow them by accident. It can feel icky to think that you’ve swallowed a fruit fly while enjoying your fresh fruits and veggies.
Apart from this, there is no reason to be concerned. However, if you have food poisoning and think fruit flies could be to blame, consider seeing a medical physician. And take the appropriate measures described below to eliminate any fruit flies in your home.
Solving your fruit fly problems
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The key thing that you must do to prevent active fruit fly infestation is to remove their breeding sites!
Someone may think, “well, let’s just not leave out fruits on the counter anymore.” One can still keep fruits in a fruit bowl on your kitchen counter. Just make sure to keep the space around it clean and sanitized to prevent them from mating and laying eggs. Besides your fruit bowl, the major areas where fruit flies could potentially breed inside your home include the following:
- Trash bins (make sure you take out your trash regularly!)
- Dirty mops, sponges, and clothing
- Kitchen counters
- Sinks and drains
- Food storage areas
- Floors (if there are any food crumbs or juice stains left, fruit flies can come after them)
- Any overripe fruits or veggies lying out in some part of your house. You may not see it, but the fruit flies can “sniff” it out
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Even taking steps to clean and remove fruit fly breeding environments, they may still end up inside your house. Having to constantly clean and check every corner of your house is a challenge. It can drive you crazy if you are determined to make your home free of fruit flies.
Another popular approach to resolving a fruit fly infestation is to use a container with two key ingredient. One to attract and another to prevent the fruit flies from escaping. There are numerous variations to this trap. But, the main version involves adding apple cider vinegar (the attractant), along with dish soap to a container. There must be an opening at the top.
Try experimenting with adding some apple cider vinegar at the bottom of a glass mason jar. Then add a few drops of dish soap. Add plastic wrap sealed with a rubber band at the top of the jar. Poke tiny holes at the top that are small enough for the flies to enter. Be sure they are not too big or else the flies could escape before being trapped. Or, you could also try making this with a paper funnel at the top instead of the plastic wrap.
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This will be most effective if you place it near the source of the fruit fly infestation. Once you figure out the source of infestation, you will need to clean that area and all surrounding areas. This ensures that no other food sources are available to the fruit flies. The trap will be useless if food sources are still present, some fruit flies can continue to survive and reproduce.
An even more effective fruit fly solution
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These solutions can work if you put in the time to maintain the cleanliness of your home. Even common DIY traps do not guarantee a complete removal of a fruit fly infestation. Because not all of the fruit flies plaguing your home will fly into your homemade trap. Also, you’ll have to constantly replace and add more apple cider vinegar and soap to keep the trap working.
What would be a convenient solution to this problem then?
Consider Trappify’s traps. These are ecofriendly, nontoxic, rainproof, and extremely effective in trapping fruit flies in your home. They attract fruit flies by a bright yellow color, and trap them with a nontoxic sticky substance. However, to make this trap work as effectively as possible, make sure to combine it with a lure. Place the sticky trap inside a small jar with apple cider vinegar at the bottom. The vinegar will attract the fruit flies. And the yellow sticky trap will catch all of the flies that try to get to the vinegar. Be sure to check out the FAQ if you have any questions about this trap.
My experience of how I got swarmed with hundreds of fruit flies in the middle of winter
Let’s drive home some of the main points of this article through my own experience with fruit flies. If I could go back in time, I wish I would’ve had a trap like Trappify’s yellow sticky traps.
As a student, almost every morning I ate a banana for breakfast. Sometimes I would eat bananas in my dorm room. Then I’d throw the peels in a trash bin, and wait to collect enough trash before closing it.
There were no hints of a problem with fruit flies until one semester around the beginning of winter. I would come back to my room and see fruit flies flying around, but not too many. However, when taking out my trash after about a week, I was met with hundreds of them! In that moment I thought, “where did all of these fruit flies come from if its so cold outside?”
These bugs can develop exceptionally fast. So the flies may have already laid eggs inside the peels, and started to multiply while I was busy studying.
Lesson learned, never leave your trash bin open with rotting fruit for longer than a week. This will save you from getting hit with a big wave of fruit flies in your face!