Fruit Flies & Food

Feeding Habits: What Attracts Fruit Flies?

Fruit Fly Feeding
Fruit Fly Feeding

The common fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) measures 3 to 4 mm in length and is tan or light brown in color. Fruit flies have protruding eyes that are typically red, although some have darker eyes.

Fruit flies are attracted to yeast resulting from the initial decomposition of plant materials. Sap flows, overripe produce and mushrooms are also foods of choice for fruit flies. The common fruit fly attacks and punctures the skin of overripe fruit and vegetables in order to lay eggs and feed.

As is implied by their name, fruit flies most commonly feed on fruit and other sugary substances. Fruit flies are also attracted to the fermenting sugars present in spilled alcoholic beverages. They are particularly fond of bananas and tend to infest homes with fruit left out on counters and other open surfaces.

Adult flies are most active during warm, bright days and feed upon the surfaces of fruits, leaves, plant secretions and honeydew produced by aphids. During the preoviposition feeding stage, adult fruit flies spend time feeding on fruits, vegetables and other decaying materials.

Following this phase, the female fruit fly places her eggs beneath the skins of fruits. Fruit fly larvae feed on the surface of decaying masses within which they are laid. Larvae are often present in the blemished and overripened areas of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Fruit flies enter homes in spring and summer on fruit, as well as through open windows and doors. Because fruit fly larvae often are so small, they are difficult to locate and are brought inside unwittingly. Fruit flies may also feed on organic material present in unclean drains.