I love fresh fruit—but I hate fruit flies.
Fruit flies, also called “Pomace Flies” in botanical circles, belong to the family Drosophiledae. Because of their short life-cycle, they’ve been a favorite of genetic research because scientists can observe many generations in a relatively short amount of time.
Adults are small, 1/8th to 1/6th of an inch long. Most species are yellow to black in color. The female lays eggs near a suitable food source, often the over-ripe, soft skin of fruit. Eggs hatch into larvae (maggots), which in turn feed, grow, and shed their skin several times until fully grown. Multiple generations are produced each year.
Although some of the immatures of a few species are parasites or predators of other insects, most feed on decaying vegetative matter, fruit, or fungi. Research tells us that the larvae developing in fruit are actually feeding on yeast growing in the fruit, rather than the fruit itself. The adults that are seen hovering over bowls of fruit may also be attracted to vinegar and dairy products. (Don’t confuse these little guys with fungus gnats, which are smaller.)
You could argue that they cause little damage because they infest fruit that is decaying and unfit for human consumption. They don’t bite people or pets, and have not been blamed for any disease transmission. But they are obnoxious. The best way to get rid of them is to identify over-ripe food sources and dispose of them before the flies are attracted to it. These could include potatoes, onions, garlic, squash, pumpkins, gourds, etc. Malathion my be sprayed as a last resort.
Remember to follow the label instructions on any pesticide used, as directions sometimes do change. If you have any questions about fruit flies or any other pest, don’t hesitate to stop by Western Gardens and talk to one of our expert gardeners.
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