Small Flies in the Kitchen that are Not Fruit Flies

Tiny flies in the kitchen? These have got to be fruit flies, right? Well, not really.  There are many species of small flies that you can find in food prepping areas other than the fruit fly, which brings about the question: what are the small flies in the kitchen that are not fruit flies?  In this article, we’re breaking down five small fly varieties that could be your answer. Small Flies in the Kitchen that are Not Fruit Flies.  Let’s not waste any time and get started.

5 Small Flies in the Kitchen that are Not Fruit Flies


Before we dive into the 5 small fly species you may find in your kitchen, you should first make sure that what you see is really not fruit flies.

The key identifying characteristics of a fruit fly is a pair of bright red eyes. So unless you notice such eyes, what you’re dealing with is another small fly species.

Now, it’s time we get down to business!

1. Phorid Flies

Also known as humpbacked flies, phorid flies are small flies that greatly resemble fruit flies in terms of appearance. Their bodies are usually tan to dark brown in color, but they lack the classic trademark red eye color of the fruit fly.

Phorid Flies fall in the category of small flies, with a body measuring up to 1/8 inches in length (wings included).

The most distinguished feature of this small fly is the humpbacked shape of its thorax. The significant arch of the thorax grants this fly the common nickname of the humpbacked fly.

Another prominent identifying trait of the adult Phorid fly is its distinctive habit of running quickly across surfaces instead of flying right away when disturbed as most flies do.

Phorid flies were also given the name coffin flies when they were found in mortuaries and mausoleums. They’ve also been found to breed in damaged containers of moist foods, nearly rotten meat, as well as organic-based paints and glues.

Adult phorids thrive during the warmth of summer months, but they can also be active throughout the winter. This fly mainly lives, feeds, and breeds where moisture exists, taking habitat in places such as plumbing and drains in kitchens and bathrooms, garbage cans, and basements.

2. Drain Flies

Drain flies are also small flies with bodies measuring at approximately ⅛  inches. They are mostly black in color, but sometimes they can be brown.

The key identifying characteristic for the drain fly is the unique pattern of the veins in its fuzzy wings.

Drain Flies also go by the names of moth flies, sewer flies, or filter flies. Their bodies and wings are covered with fine hairs.

If you crush a drain fly, it’ll leave behind a powdery smudge. These flies are normally found around drains, which is where the common name originates from. They live off debris in the humid film on the sides of the drain and in the drain trap.

This is also one of the reasons these flies get confused with the fruit fly, phorid fly, or sphaerocerid fly which also live in drains.

Drain flies can also be found in highly organic waste areas in kitchens and bathrooms such as sink drains, moist mops, as well as dung and rotten vegetation. In some cases, drain flies can enter your home from under slab floors where a drain pipe has broken.

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3. Fungus Gnats

Fungus gnats are very tiny insects with long legs and long thin wings compared to other small fly species. These gnats also have vein patterns in their wings, taking the shape of a Y letter on the forewings.

These mosquito-like flies have delicate bodies that are exclusively black in color. Adult fungus gnats measure about ⅛ inches long.

The eggs of fungus gnats are barely visible, oval, smooth, shiny white, and semi-transparent. Their larvae are worm-like (legless), thread-like, white, with shiny black head capsules, and grow up to 1/4 inches long.

Fungus gnats are typically found in the vicinity of houseplants. So if you’re trying to determine their source in the kitchen, inspect the soil of any potted plants you’re keeping in the room.

Avoid watering your plants too much. When the soil is overwatered, the increase of moisture provides even better conditions for fungus gnats to breed.

If you find adult gnats flying around your plants, you should take this as an indication that the soil under the plants is a breeding ground.

Gnats may also be entering the kitchen from the outside if you’re not keeping plants inside. Check the plants placed outside near entry points such as windows.

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4. Sphaerocerid Flies

Another species of small flies that you may encounter in your kitchen is the Sphaerocerid flies. These tiny pests are dark, almost black in color with bodies measuring at ⅛ inches long.

Sphaerocerid flies are members of a large family of flies called Sphaeroceridae, which includes 241 species in North America. Since they may breed in animal manure, these flies are also known as dung flies.

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Sphaerocerid flies can enter homes via open doors or windows, and once the pests appear, unclean environments encourage them to stay and breed heavily.

Moist organic materials are primary sources of attraction for these tiny pests. Such sites include :

  • Decaying or fermenting organic matter. For example, fruits and vegetables stored outside of refrigeration
  • Trash cans or dumpsters that aren’t cleaned regularly
  • Look underneath and behind large appliances because the decaying organic matter could be trapped where kitchen equipment meets the floor and the wall
  • Dirty kitchen floors
  • Clogged drains

Some prevention procedures you can do as to keep out Sphaerocerid flies include removing food wastes under kitchen appliances and on kitchen floors, as well as cleaning drain traps, drain pipes, and plumbing pipes.

5. Cheese Skipper Fly

Last on today’s list is the cheese skipper. This small fly species has reddish-brown eyes and slightly iridescent wings that are held flat over the body when at rest.

The whole body of a cheese skipper is only about half the size of the common housefly, measuring at 3/16 of an inch. It’s black and shiny with tints of bronze color.

The cheese skipper fly gets its name from a distinct behavior of the species. It demonstrates sudden snappy movements that cause them to jump or “skip” forward up to 10 inches.

As for the cheese part of the equation, this fly is actually a primary pest of cheese and meats. The adult fly feeds on juices from these organic materials, living for the short duration required to breed and lay eggs.

The flies lay their eggs on the surface of moldy cheese or putrid meat, with a count of approximately 140 eggs on a single food source.

Cured ham products, moldy cheese, and cracks of kitchen equipment are examples of places where you’re likely to find cheese skipper flies.

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Wrap Up

There you have it, everything you need to know about 5 common species of small flies in the kitchen that are not fruit flies.

Keep in mind that identifying these flies can be a tricky task. So if you’re not entirely sure which flies are infesting your kitchen, it’s better to leave it to a professional.

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