Fruit flies are small, red-eyed, 1/4 inch long flies commonly associated with overripe and fermenting fruits and vegetables. However, fruit need not be present to have fruit flies, as they can originate from other sources. |
Fruit flies can reproduce anywhere there is fermenting organic matter that stays consistently wet or moist. Like other flies, the fruit flies develop from larvae, and fruit fly larvae must have moist, fermenting organic matter in order to survive. The most likely of such sites in the home is a slow-moving or seldom-used sink, bathtub, shower, or floor drain in which a layer of slime (organic film) has built up above the water line. In restaurants and bars, other moist accumulations of fermenting organic matter are possible and should be considered. These include wet areas under dripping pipes and refrigeration equipment, garbage containers, and discarded bottles and cans. Regardless of where the flies originate, they will be seen at windows and at sinks, as they are attracted to light and to moisture.
Female fruit flies lay their eggs on the surface of rotting fruit. These eggs hatch into larvae, which molt twice before becoming full grown. Fruit fly larvae feed on the yeast organisms and fungi growing in the fruit and vegetable materials, and through their feeding efforts, they soon turn their food into a semi-liquid mess. When the full grown larvae are ready to pupate, they leave the rotten fruit for drier areas, usually to the sides of the garbage can. The time required to complete one life cycle is mainly dependent on the temperature of the growth medium and surrounding air; at 64 degrees Fahrenheit, it takes 18-20 days for growth from the egg stage to adult, while at 77 degrees Fahrenheit, only 8-10 days are required to complete the stages of development.
Fruit Fly Control Fruit flies are best controlled by locating and eliminating the source of the infestation. Persistent presence of fruit fly adults indicates the larvae are developing nearby. Fly breeding areas are occasionally very difficult to locate and perseverance will be required. One way to check individual drains is to cover the drain with a plastic film such as "Saran Wrap" taped to the floor or fixture. If the flies are breeding in that drain, the adults will accumulate underneath the film within a day or two. Gentrol Aerosol is a good product to use to kill fruit fly eggs and discourage immature fly development. Gentrol can be applied into drains, under appliances, floor mats, around plants, dumpsters, etc.
The most effective method to eliminate fruit flies developing in drains is to clean the inside of the drain pipe to eliminate the organic matter. Clean slow-moving drains with a stiff brush or other tool. Drains that cannot be scrubbed can be rinsed with water under high pressure or "sterilized" by slowly pouring boiling water down along the sides of the drain pipe. Another possibility is the use of a bacterial drain treatment such as "Drain Gel" that biodegrades the organic matter. Treating drains with bleach or ammonia does not work.
Insecticide fogs such as CB80 can be used to eliminate the adult flies that are present at the time of treatment but this will be only a temporary relief at best. Eradication will require eliminating the source of the infestation. For most people, fruit flies are an annoyance and control only comes with proper sanitation and the use of remedial fly control measures to kill the exposed adult flies.
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