Fruit flies – how did they get their name
Fruit flies are one of the most common housefly, which are also known as Drosophila melanogaster. They got their name because of their avid attraction to rotting or ripening fruit, which is also a good place for them to lay their eggs.
How do they look like?
Fruit flies have a distinct red eyes (some species can have brownish or black eyes), with a tan body and a black abdomen. Their wings on the other hand are translucent.
What do they eat?
Adult fruit flies feed on: fruits surfaces, leaves and even plant secretions. They also feed on vegetables and other decaying materials, such as organic material present in unclean drains.
Their larvae also feed on fermenting fruit, and are often found in overripened areas of fruits and vegetables, where the female adult flies tend to lay their eggs.
Their lifecycle & reproduction
A female fruit fly lays up to 50 eggs per day throughout her lifetime. Room temperature is ideal for them, and they lay fewer eggs if the temperature is cold. A female adult fruit fly tend to place her eggs on the skins of fruits.
An adult fruit fly has a short lifecycle of only 40 to 50 days.
Why are they attracted to me?
Fruit flies in general are attracted to fermenting scents so it is said that is unlikely that it is due to your own natural scent. Many have the misconception that it is because of their own body odour or dirty t-shirt that is attracting fruit flies.
Flies on the other hand are attracted to the carbon dioxide that human beings breathe out, and are also attracted to the sweat (salt), and heat that is produced by our own body.
How to control fruit flies (DIY)
- Use old wine or beer and trap the flies once they enter the bottle
- Use a bowl of vinegar and add drops of dish soap: this will attract the fruit flies and they will eventually sink down the bowl
- Use a bowl of apple cider vinegar (wrap the bowl with a plastic wrap and add some holes): fruit flies will enter but will not be able to exit
Other interesting facts about fruit flies
- They are ideal for lab experiments due to their short lifespan
- They have more than half as many genes as humans (14,000 and 24,000 respectively)
- 75% of genes that cause diseases found in human are also found in fruit flies
- They are attracted to beer
It turns out that the reason why fruit flies are attracted to beer, is because of its yeast strain component that gives it a pungent smell that is similar to ripening fruit. Yeast is the key component that produces quantities of volatile compounds that give the similar smell to fruits.
The other interesting reason why brewers who are aware of this might detest fruit flies is because fruit flies tend to hang around rotten fruits, and thus will collect the acetic acid bacteria found in fruits. Not only that, but fruit flies can easily transfer these acid bacteria into the beer produced, and the bacteria can convert the ethanol component found in beer into vinegar, which in its entirety disrupts the great alcohol taste for the beer.